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Check out the latest insurance news, opinions, trends and innovations in the Australian Insurance industry and financial services community from experts, agencies, media and associations on Top4 News.  
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Eight Sneaky Car Insurance Loopholes Designed To Screw You Over

Eight Sneaky Car Insurance Loopholes Designed To Screw You Over | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

Most Australian drivers have the intelligence and foresight to get comprehensive car insurance. Unfortunately, even the costliest premiums don’t  necessarily cover you for everything.There are certain accidents and vehicular misfortunes that will cause insurers to leave you in the lurch. Here are eight grey areas that every insured driver needs to know about, from bumbling valets to the lure of ridesharing.


Even if you only use your car for ridesharing part-time, it’s imperative to inform your insurer immediately. “If you make a claim and your insurer finds out that your car was being used in a way that was not listed on your policy, they may reduce or even refuse to settle your claim due to the policy conditions,” Comparethemarket explains.


This one came as a surprise to us. Apparently, car insurers have the ability to deny your claim if it is stolen in the process of selling it. “If a potential buyer wants to take your car for a test drive, you should accompany them as a passenger,” Comparethemarket warns.



Top4s insight:

The Eight Sneaky Car Insurance Loopholes.


Failure to disclosure an Uber-Style ridesharing gig.

"Fronting" a young driver

Failure to disclosure past claims or infringements

Your valet dinged your car

Your car was stolen while on sale

Valuables inside your car aren't covered

 Towing when you're not supposed to

 Leaving your keys in the ignition 

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ClearView says it is now or never for troubled life insurance sector

ClearView says it is now or never for troubled life insurance sector | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

Acting on regulatory reform and profitability improvement should be the focus of the life insurance industry in 2016, says ClearView Wealth.


ClearView, like many of its insurer peers, has been pushing for a series of changes in the life sector, which has been under pressure from falling profits, and a rise in stress-related claims and lawsuits by white collar professionals. 


In November, the government warned it would ban expensive up-front commissions which are paid to life insurance advisers if the industry had not improved after a review in two years. 


These commissions have been under scrutiny after the Australian Securities and Investment Commission found almost 40 per cent of the life insurance advice provided by planners failed to comply with the law. Last year, the government said it would rein in these payments to a maximum of 80 per cent during the first year of a policy, from July 1, 2016, before scaling it back further to 70 per cent and 60 per cent during subsequent years.


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Life Insurance for Legal Professionals: In or Out of Superannuation?

Life Insurance for Legal Professionals: In or Out of Superannuation? | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

Life insurance provides an important layer of financial protection for you and your loved ones, and one of the key decisions to make when taking out Life insurance is whether to hold policies independently, or through your superannuation fund. This superannuation fund may be an industry, retail or self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF).


The advantages of holding Life insurance through a super fund

  •Default cover

  •Competitive premiums

  •No impact on day to day expenses


The disadvantages of holding Life insurance through super

  •The risk of insufficient cover.

  •May not meet your needs.

  •Depleted superannuation savings

  •Control and speed of claims.

  •Taxation

  •Not all covers can be included in super

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How upfront travel insurance compares with the cost of an overseas hospital bed

How upfront travel insurance compares with the cost of an overseas hospital bed | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

Will Eve of Bondi has taken 25 overseas trips in his adult life and believes he has spent at least $3000 on travel insurance.


He had never made a claim until an adventure in Peru: in a "freak accident" at a Lima skateboard park he suffered a double fracture of his right ankle that trapped him in a local hospital for two weeks. The hospital bill totalled $30,000.


"My insurance covered everything, from the hospital stay, treatment, to my flights home," the 27-year-old marketing professional said.  "You only ever hear the bad stories, but it's important to have. It's a small expense in the scheme of things."


Comparison service Finder has calculated the difference in costs between a one-night stay in an overseas hospital bed, based on WHO figures, and a typical travel insurance policy for a 35-year-old traveller spending two weeks at that destination.

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Accessible insurance key win for MLC

Accessible insurance key win for MLC | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

MLC has secured the top spot for the Super Risk Disability Income Product award, after coming in second last year.


MLC's Insurance Income Protection Platinum Super beat out last year's winner, BT Financial Group, and OnePath.


National Australia Bank's general manager for business development management, Melissa Heyhoe, said their win was thanks to making their product more affordable.


"Our expanded multi-cover discounts when combined with premium payments by rollover are making a real difference to the affordability of income protection insurance," she said.

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Cruise Ships Claim Top Spot For Most Expensive Travel Insurance Payouts

Cruise Ships Claim Top Spot For Most Expensive Travel Insurance Payouts | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

If you’re opting for a cruise-y holiday this summer, don’t think drinking cocktails and eating buffet breakfasts while you float through the Pacific can't land you in hot water.


Figures released Wednesday by insurance company Fast-Cover have found half of this year's top 10 most expensive claims were the result of cruise-holiday fiascos.


The most expensive claim of 2015 amounted to $190,000, which was made by a 72-year-old woman who fell from her bed during a rough night on the high seas, injuring her spine.  The CEO of Fast Cover, Dean Van Es, said cruise claims were often high due to on-board medical facilities not being covered by Medicare or private health insurance.


“Plus emergency evacuation costs are expensive, especially when you’re airlifted by helicopter,” he said.

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Advisers encouraged to look to tele-underwriting

Advisers encouraged to look to tele-underwriting | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

Centrepoint Alliance is encouraging advisers across its network to use tele-underwriting services for insurance applications as a means to improve efficiency.


Speaking to ifa, Centrepoint Alliance's national risk manager, David Spiteri, said advisers are dedicating considerable time to completing risk insurance applications, meaning they have less time to work on other areas of their business, such as sourcing new clients.


"Generally, when you do an application for a client – whether it is [straightforward] or very complex – the average insurance case will take about 10 hours to complete," Mr Spiteri said.


"So, you will have appointment number one, appointment number two, you have your SOA that you have [written], and you have medicals that need to be followed up for clarification.

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Rising premiums boost group insurance market

Rising premiums boost group insurance market | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

The latest Life Analysis Report shows total sales for the full year at $1.3 billion in new annual premiums.


Five of the top 10 life companies recorded a rise in lump sum new business, including Zurich with an 8.0 per cent increase and ClearView with a 41 per cent increase.


However, total in-force group risk business increased to $5.6 billion, up from $5.1 billion in the year to September 2014.


Nine of the top 10 companies in the group risk market recorded increases, including AIA Australia with a 7.0 per cent and CommInsure with a 14 per cent increase.


"These increases in in-force premiums are a flow on from the widespread increase in premiums charged to super fund trustees for group risk benefits provided to members," the report said.

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Flood insurance: 2480 postcode rated too risky

Flood insurance: 2480 postcode rated too risky | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

A RE-CLASSIFICATION of the entire 2480 postcode as flood prone was the reason given to Caniaba resident Glenda Parker for her insurance company's recent refusal to renew her home insurance policy.


That's despite the fact that she lives on top of a large hill that she says has and would never be affected by a flood.


Ms Parker said her biggest concern was finding an alternative insurance company.


"I'm very angry," she said. "It puts you in a bad position.


"Now I've got to find someone who's going to insure me because the first thing another insurance company says is why have you left the last one?"


Ms Parker, who has lived in her Pelican Creek Rd property for 24 years, said when she queried the insurance company, Real Insurance, about why they had refused to renew her policy, she was told the underwriters of the policy had recently classified all of 2480 as flood prone.

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Victorian woman wins landmark court case against QBE after her insurance claim due to mental illness was denied

Victorian woman wins landmark court case against QBE after her insurance claim due to mental illness was denied | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

A Victorian woman has won a landmark discrimination case against QBE, after the insurance giant refused to provide travel cover because she had depression.


Ella Ingram, 21, launched legal proceedings against the company after they refused to compensate her over a planned trip to New York in 2012, which did not go ahead because Ms Ingram was too sick with depression to travel.


In an extraordinary ruling, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal found the company had discriminated against Ms Ingram by refusing to accept depression as a valid claim for cover.


Three out of four people with a mental illness say they have experienced discrimination, according to a Relationships Australia report.


The organisation revealed many people with a mental illness lie to their employers when they need to obtain time off for treatment.

Respondents to a survey said they preferred to tell their manager or colleagues that they were suffering from a strictly physical ailment.

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NDIS to create thousands of jobs in SA: Weatherill

NDIS to create thousands of jobs in SA: Weatherill | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

The South Australian Government has announced it will fund skills-based education in anticipation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme's (NDIS) need for workers.


The full rollout of the scheme is expected to create thousands of jobs in the state, which has been struggling with high unemployment.


A funding deal signed on Friday between the state and federal governments will see more than 30,000 people with a disability receive help from the scheme by late 2017.


The State Government said the full implementation would result in 6,200 new jobs in the sector.


Premier Jay Weatherill said more than 1,700 of those jobs would be in the northern suburbs, which has seen its manufacturing sector shrink as Holden prepares to close down.

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IAG: Restructure is about being customer-led and data-driven

IAG: Restructure is about being customer-led and data-driven | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

Australian insurance group, IAG, is undertaking a major shake-up of its organisational structure and leadership team in a bid to become a customer-led and data-driven organisation.


The new structure, which comes into effect on 9 December, sees two customer-facing divisions put in place covering sales, service, and brand and marketing execution. These are an Australian Consumer Division, focused on individuals and families; and an Australian Business Division, focused on all business relationships.


The Consumer Division will be overseen by Anthony Justice, who was previously the chief customer officer for personal insurance. Former acting CEO for commercial insurance, Ben Bessell, becomes chief executive of the Australian Business Division, which includes the CGU, WFI, Lumley and Swann brands.


In addition, three divisions covering customer experience, technology and operations will support IAG’s two-pronged customer strategy.

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Still no insurance premium reminders for Australian consumers

Still no insurance premium reminders for Australian consumers | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

Research by the Consumer Action Law Centre (CALC) showed that 86% of Australians would find it useful to have their previous year's premiums listed on renewal notices. If the proposals are adopted in the UK it will increase pressure on Australian insurers to do the same.


"CHOICE has been working with Consumer Action and the Financial Rights Legal Centre to push insurers to get this information out there," says Erin Turner, head of campaigns at CHOICE. "This is sensible reform, a real no-brainer. Consumers need this information."


Last week the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) released the report of its Effective Disclosure Taskforce. Among the report's recommendations was a trial of previous year premium reminders on renewal notices.


David Leermakers, senior policy officer at CALC, says Australian insurers are open to the idea of reform but want to see evidence of a consumer benefit before they invest in changing their systems.


"But we would say you've got the evidence now. The FCA trial was a very sophisticated piece of research," says Leermakers, who was a member of the ICA taskforce. "I don't think Australian insurers are thinking of running a trial on that scale."

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10 insurance traps you need to know

10 insurance traps you need to know | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

You are overseas on a three-month trip of a lifetime and a freak storm wreaks havoc on your home. You didnt tell your insurer of your travel plans and now you may not be covered for the damage.


These are just some of the potential scenarios that could cost you thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars because you didn’t read the fine print on your general insurance policy.


Failing to understand what you are covered for can have catastrophic consequences for your hip pocket, says Abigail Koch, spokeswoman for comparethemarket.com.au.


“Insurance is not cheap so you really do need to know what you are paying for,” she says.


Reading your policy Product Disclosure Statement will take hours of your life you’ll never get back, but it could spare you financial disaster.


Top4s insight:


These are the threats to your home that you may not realise :


• Taking a long break

• Putting off odd jobs

• Totalling tools of the trade

• Renovation rues 

• Backyard bliss

• Doing business at home 

• Pleasure Hazard

• Flora fails

• Stocking up

• Dont let the bugs bite


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Car and home insurance premiums to rise 3 per cent

Car and home insurance premiums to rise 3 per cent | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

If you're under a tight budget and looking for car insurance, there's bad news heading your way.


But a 3 per cent increase, which is at the top of the 2 to 3 per cent inflation target, is the expected average price rise for motor cover as insurers look to beef up profit margins following a year of expensive claims and stiff competition. 


It is a dramatic change to last year's prices, when the average policy dipped 2 per cent, according to new research by JP Morgan and consulting firm Taylor Fry. 


"The last two years in motor were pretty soft. A big part of it is competition," Siddharth Parameswaran, senior insurance analyst, at JP Morgan, said about premium prices. 


"These rate reductions in 2015 I think were in response to try and solidify market share, and prices have come back a fair way," he said. 


And prices are set to rise further. A spate of natural catastrophe claims from events such as the Anzac Day hailstorm in Sydney in 2015 and category five Cyclone Marcia have triggered billions of dollars in costs for insurance companies. 

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10 Things Australians need to know before buying life insurance

10 Things Australians need to know before buying life insurance | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

The life insurance market in Australia has grown over the past couple of decades; today, the number of insurers and varieties of insurance policies on offer, are huge. For customers in Australia looking to buy, renew, or switch your life insurance policy, here are 10 things to consider.


  1. Look beyond the advertisements 
  2. Think, Plan, Calculate
  3. Compare and understand different types of life insurance 
  4. Think twice before switching to a new policy
  5. Know about the renewal policies of the life insurer
  6. Know the Policy
  7. Proactively review insurance needs 
  8. Accidental death cover versus full life insurance
  9. Look for discounts
  10. Know the insurer
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The healthcare hits coming in 2016

The healthcare hits coming in 2016 | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

LAST year was the year we avoided a $7 GP fee and a $5 prescription medicine price hike but six major reviews are plotting other major changes to the health system for 2016.


Primary health care, Medicare rebates, private health insurance, prescription medicine payments, mental health care and electronic health records are all slated for major changes under these reviews.


These and other health reforms, to be rolled out from 2016, will push up the cost of blood tests and scans, change your relationship with your GP, see you dragooned into an e-health record and increase your private health insurance costs — but might save you $1 on your prescriptions.

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Winners and losers of the insurance race in 2015

Winners and losers of the insurance race in 2015 | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

QBE Insurance Group, Suncorp Group and IAG - which of these insurers made the biggest share price gains in 2015 and how will they fare next year?


For investors who took a punt with QBE, their bets would have paid off amid a volatile year of trading in the Australian share market.


QBE, which made headlines in recent years due to consecutive profit downgrades, has been busy tackling problematic divisions across its business and its efforts are bearing fruit. Shares in the $17 billion company have risen 17.3 per cent this year, bucking the losses of the the benchmark S&P/ASX200 Index which has declined about 1.7 per cent.


Investors of IAG and Suncorp Group were less fortunate, after the companies' shares respectively fell 11.2 and 12.7 per cent during the year to December 30.

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Think your holiday is completely covered by travel insurance? Think again

Think your holiday is completely covered by travel insurance? Think again | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

“ENJOY the holiday without the worry,” runs the slogan.  But if you think your insurance policy buys peace of mind while you travel, think again.


If you’re drunk, you’re not covered. Airline’s lost your luggage? Not covered. “Unlimited” medical cover? Well, it actually means that “limits apply”.


Cut your trip short because a relative dies? Won’t be covered unless they’re an immediate relative — and even then, expect to be showing your insurer their death certificate.


And if you get hurt and it is covered, it’s still up to you to keep the costs down and do what your insurer says — even if that means flying across the world with a broken foot because their doctor says so, and it’s cheaper for them to have you patched up in Australia.


Terrorist attacks aren’t always covered, mental illness is almost always out — it all depends on the fine print.

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AMA, insurers, dig in for private health battle

AMA, insurers, dig in for private health battle | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

The doctors' lobby has warned the government not to allow health funds to price insurance based on factors such as age and lifestyle, while attacking "junk" policies that don't cover common procedures.


Government budgets are under severe strain and surging healthcare costs have put pressure on public finances and insurance premiums, prompting a federal review into private health insurance, alongside several other reviews into the health system.


In its submission to the review the Australian Medical Association took aim at insurance policies with exclusions, saying patients with such policies are often shocked to discover they are not covered for a common procedure.


"Doctors are seeing this happen on a daily basis," AMA president Brian Owler said.

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Insurance Australia Group gets $5.50 target price from Macquarie Wealth

Insurance Australia Group gets $5.50 target price from Macquarie Wealth | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

Macquarie Wealth Management has a 'neutral' rating on Insurance Australia Group and a $5.50 target price.


"Following the Suncorp earnings downgrade, driven by a combination of company specific factors but also industrywide issues, we cut our IAG Underlying Insurance Margin estimates to 14.0% from 14.8%.


"Our Reported Insurance Margin forecast (16.8% from 17.5%) remains well above the target range based on the Aggregate Reinsurance protection in 1H16 (est. boost to 1H16 of +3.1% and FY16 by +1.6%) and reserve releases (+2.2% vs long run est. +1.0%).

"Despite the earnings cut, market consensus is not capturing the Aggregate Reinsurance cover benefit that will accrue to IAG in 1H16.


Following the high level of Natural Hazard claims in the six months to June 2015, IAG carried $380m of protection for claims events above $20m into 1H16 (i.e. from 1 July to 31 Dec 2015 IAG's maximum exposure to Natural Hazards is $20m until $380m of claims protection is exhausted).


"We estimate this provides IAG $140m benefit in 1H16, estimated Reported Insurance Margin boost of 3.1% in 1H16 and 1.6% in FY16," the investment bank said.

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Aussies drop private health cover

Aussies drop private health cover | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

MORE than one in four health fund members considered dropping their health cover in the last year as health fund premiums soared above the inflation rate and funds began to Americanise health care.


A survey by health fund broker iSelect has found one in six people were so upset about their health insurance they changed their health fund. And one in ten changed their policy with their existing fund. As health fund members brace for another premium rise that will top six per cent in April 2016, iSelect reveals last year’s premium rise slugged fund members an average $185 a year in higher costs.


Laura Crowden, spokesperson for iSelect, said the survey highlighted that affordability concerns are prompting many Australians to review their health cover.


“The survey also found that an estimated 28 per cent of Australians with private health insurance have considered dropping their private health cover in the past 12 months, with the number one reason being ‘to save money’ (65 per cent),” Ms Crowden said.

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Sydney storm: Insurance Council confirms catastrophe status

Sydney storm: Insurance Council confirms catastrophe status | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

The storms that brought record winds and a tornado ripping through parts of Sydney on Wednesday has wreaked $8 million in damages, with the cost expected to climb as the clean-up continues.


The Insurance Council of Australia, which represents insurance companies, officially declared the storms a catastrophe after winds in excess of 200 kilometres an hour and heavy rain battered Sydney's eastern and southern suburbs on Wednesday.


Less than 24 hours after the mega storm, insurers have fielded about 1000 claims with losses already hitting the $8 million mark.


Those numbers are expected to rise slowly over coming days as property owners lodge claims and the clean-up and recovery operation continues.

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Advisers up in arms over life insurance reforms

Advisers up in arms over life insurance reforms | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

Financial planner Mark Dunsford is hoping 5000 of his peers will sign a petition urging the federal government to abandon life insurance reforms, which he says threaten the future of the industry.


Mr Dunsford, director of Dunsford Financial Planning and a specialist in life risk advice, is setting up a website to encourage planners to sign the petition, which he hopes will halt the avalanche of reforms including radical changes to remuneration.


It comes after Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer warned the government will ban expensive upfront commissions paid to life planners, if the quality of advice had not improved after a review of the industry in 2018.


The government is dialling down upfront commissions to a maximum of 80 per cent during the first year of a policy from July 1, 2016, before reducing it further to 70 per cent and 60 per cent in subsequent years.

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O’Dwyer points to commissions and churn

O’Dwyer points to commissions and churn | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

The existence of 120 per cent upfront commissions was the reason for "a huge amount of churn" in the life/risk sector, according to Assistant Treasurer, Kelly O'Dwyer.


Explaining the reasoning behind the Government's exposure draft legislation relating to the Life Insurance Framework (LIF) in a radio interview, O'Dwyer referred directly to the impact of commissions and made clear that the majority had actually been banned.


"With the changes to financial advice, the majority of commissions have actually been banned which means that you can't get an upfront commission if you're providing that advice," she said. "The disclosure requirements for how payments are made have been strengthened and for those people selling life insurance we recently also made some changes to give effect to reform within that industry."

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