CHOICE membership

House and contents insurance

I’ve just received my insurance renewal and note that in the details provided, there are some errors. For example, single garage (mine is double) and date of construction 2004 ( mine is 2002). I have noticed this before as well as also on my car insurance. I know that I have previously provided the correct details as have renewed the insurance and corrected prior errors but when it comes to renewal time, these inaccuracies still persist. My question is are these deliberate on the part of the insurer to void any claims if it comes to that? (I note that it states quite clearly that “you have told us…” on the forms). Should I be concerned or is it nothing to worry about?

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They are concerning. The company should amend the base record off which these errors are being generated. While a year or two in construction date might not be significant, it could change to what standard the building was built to comply with. The single to double garage definitely makes a difference to risk levels and replacement construction costs. Perhaps making a complaint as well as getting the current details amended is the way to go, ask them to respond to the complaint advising what action/s they have taken. If the response is unsatisfactory or not forthcoming then escalate the complaint to AFCA (Australian Financial Complaints Authority).

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I’ve noticed the same thing with NRMA house and contents insurance, with their changes to window and door lock details that I had previously accurately provided, and corrected, but they reappear.

You have to wonder if it’s them sneaking in false details in order to refuse claims.

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I get the same thing with Suncorp. A few years ago we called into the shop front and a consultant did bundle our policies to achieve 15% discount, but also lowered our premium by describing our houses (previously had little detail). Next year I saw the errors (slab on ground for a high-set timber house, no windows below 3m for a low-set house etc).

Whenever I rang (no shopfront now) I got the full review of the policy, however there were always errors. I suspect that some were made by people with no knowledge of building or a rigid system (our home is on sloping land, the top floor is at ground level one end and above the ground floor at the other) having to describe it as on-ground or high-set and then assuming all windows are >3m high. At least there is a recording of my 45min discussion on what we actually have. But Yes, the unscrupulous could deny claims.

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I’ve had the same thing with both building and contents - recently the insurer had incorrect details for a title plan, inexplicably given I had provided the details electronically and had both soft and hard-copy proof of same.

There never seems to be a viable answer as to why this happens - potentially because of what has been suggested - while they might not be deliberately fabricating errors, it is entirely possible they have little process control around data integrity with the view it might be helpful to them in the future if errors creep in that the customer ‘accepts’ by not correcting (or can be claimed were given in error in the first instance).

‘Calls may be recorded’ - but when you get to the part of the conversation where you are committing, you can bet that conversation is recorded and retained (often they state this), but the part where you tell them you have a double story solid brick dog kennel maybe not so much. It is too easy to call and get a policy over the phone and move on before the email/letter arrives - I always ask for the policy to be emailed if possible, and make corrections in writing for that reason.

Also, while the customer has a duty to disclose anything that might increase risk, the company seems to have no duty at all. I heard of a case recently of an older couple in a full size house, two sheds, etc who had contents insurance just over 10k$ … for years. The insurer would clearly know that this is woefully inadequate, but why would they care? especially given the nature of payout calculation when under-insured. Of course this is just another case of buyer beware …

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Rings more than the doorbell.

We had similar discrepancies with the general property description for our property. The policy was a carry over from our parents. The insurer - Suncorp! The most significant errors concerned similar items such as the height of windows above ground (all greater than 3m), not really, and differences in the details of the window/door security.

From experiences arranging policies on line, there may be another explanation for variation. We often hear what we want to hear, especially when a cheaper offer is required. The sales staff usually asked if we had other quotes as they would match or better them.

Loyalty or membership discounts EG NRMA etc are part of the equation. It seems unlikely the sales staff have any other latitude, other than a short list of security features/risks. Perhaps you think all your windows are above your head height. What’s a Compliant deadlock on a patio French door? Did they ask if your house has wrap around verandahs secured only via a simple lattice batwing door set? Are you in a fire zone? Perhaps it is partly the actions of the sales staff trying to hit targets that we need to address. Of course that is also due to Corporate culture?

P.S.
Fire Zone. Last renewal I asked again and was told that is not a question but we are covered.

The big lawn mower - 50hp diesel tractor. Not a farm policy because we do not run a farm business. No clarity on the Public Liability or need to specify. If it is not excluded by wording in the policy, we were informed it is included in the cover! I remain sceptical?

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Ditto. Well picked up @peslis99.

I have noticed this on insurance and bank details where old data was repeatedly restored over newer data. It’s not just to do with what is covered, there are also spelling mistakes (such as with our names), which repeatedly reappear.

I never viewed it as deliberate, merely as incompetence and poorly managed IT systems. This is why I keep hard copies of correspondence and policies.

It pays to be eternally vigilant.

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If they are recording calls, they should be prepared to provide you with a copy. Most companies recording calls do prepare summaries afterwards, to put on their files - the recording is largely useless, in this digital age, where things need to be recorded through computers!

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Absolutely. It is amazing but unsurprising how often they don’t want to.

Your source in this century? Perhaps before and when they still used tape?

Recordings of all sorts are digital these days. Straight to HDDs no ‘tape’ used. They can be retrieved by customer, account, time and date, and other indexes.

CSOs enter whatever they enter in their action lists and move to the next punter.

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You may very well be right, about the available technology. I was merely extrapolating from my own experiences in getting a transcript - it perfectly obviously wasn’t off the tape- it had been completely re-written, in the idiom of whoever did it - the original wording wasn’t merely “edited”, it was substituted as well. No automatic system would do that - it took human intervention to produce what was supplied to me as a “transcript”.

BTW - the time to ask for a copy is at the conclusion of - or even (perhaps) at the beginning of - the conversation. Then, if you have any queries about the accuracy of the transcript and raise them “contemporaneously” - and document the fact that you did so - if there’s any dispute, later, this will provide satisfactory evidence of your version.

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That would normally be a response to an ‘after the fact’ request in lieu of supplying the actual recording that could be questionable quality or a file that could be difficult to deliver (extracting it from their system, size, etc) . The recording of a 30 minutes conversation might only have a short period of relevancy at the best of times; would you want the entire recording? Maybe. However when a transcript does not match one’s recollection it would be reasonable to ask for the original recording with a clear statement of what the claimed discrepancies are. Sometimes the company will review or escalate it internally, although sometimes they may ‘conveniently lose’ the original recording.

Exactly, noting they may or may not be amenable to putting their own side on record in the first instance, although that has been rare in my experience. I have usually received something to indicate conversations accurately.

When there is a dispute in progress it is always good practice to take copious notes in real time and sans getting their statement, after each contact to send your notes to the person handling the complaint for their agreement it is an accurate reflection of what was said and agreed, receipted to assure they got it. If they do not make a correction you can hang your hat on that, and if they dispute your version it is immediately obvious work needs to be done.

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We have had the same thing happen with Suncorp many times but our latest renewal notice was actually correct.

We have also had an interesting experience regarding renewing our home & contents insurance since my posts in another topic on 30.12.2019 & 02.01.2020.

In addition to the 8 companies I have listed, I also tried to get online quotes from Coles, Woollworths, Real and Budget Direct after I saw them spruiking as to how great they had been in paying out for bushfire claims.

Three of them advised as soon as I entered our address that they do not cover our area but the clowns at Budget Direct waited until I had fully completed the form and was awaiting the quote before statng they do not cover our area, but they would get someone else to contact me, and Sure rang the next day, so they effectively collected all our details for no service offered.

Perhaps they have been watching their puerile Captain Risky and X Files TV ads too much.

I am surprised that several members of the forum are using NRMA as they were the dearest by far at just under $4,100.

Youi were the cheapest at just over $1,550 but I was not comfortable with going with them.

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Keep in mind that we don’t all live at your address Fred - they are not the most expensive in other locations!

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The second highest was RACQ at over $3,617 so it appears to me that the motoring clubs should stick with their day job.

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Selling insurance, solar, emergency home services, and so on seems to be their main day job in this era. It is far more profitable than their heritage role, especially when competitive quotes are taken into account.

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As you noted with Youi, cheapest is not always the best. Nor is the most expensive the worst.

Sometimes (but not always) paying a bit more in the premium has benefits such as having some assurance that they will pay out more readily.

It really comes down to personal circumstances, experience, & preferences sometimes.

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Whilst I was talking with our insurer to negotiate our advised renewal premium to an acceptable I said that I had received some lower quotes and I was asked what they were.

I said that Youi was lower and I was asked what ther quote was and I told the person, to which she commented that there are differences between insurance companies but you may not find about them until you have a claim, to which I replied “That is what worries me”.

The renewal premium was reduced to an acceptable amount, and I feel it is far better to go with the devil you know than to be left destitute after a worst case scenarion.

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Claim is one issue, but each insurers PDS is also different with potentially different cover for different events and what is claimable for each cover. It makes comparison between policies at different premiums very difficult.

The cheapest may not necessarily be the best cover for a customer.

In relation to Youi, after the 2015 storms in Brisbane, a elderly neighbour (90 years old) had Youi as her insurer. Youi took just under 6 months to make repairs after the claim was made. The elderly neighbour lived in what was effectively and unsecured and leaking home between the storm and when the repairs were undertaken. Then contacting Youi, we were told that they were waiting for a reasonable quote to come in for the repair works before proceeding with the repairs.

Youi was more interested in saving a few dollars rather than doing what was potentially in the interests of their customer. On a positive note, they (their contractors) did a reasonable job minimising works undertaken in order to make good the property and also repaired the additional damage caused through not repairing leaks in a timely manner…but this did come at a psychological cost to their customer.

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I’ve had issues with all kinds of insurance companies… APIA kept changing my monthly costs, and could never explain satisfactorily why (they went both up and down, inconsistently) so I cancelled them. AAMI was a PITA to get my new car repaired after it was rear-ended (back in 1990) and authorised the repairer ony to use second hand parts… cancelled them, too. Interestingly the only company I have had no trouble with is NRMA and I can’t afford them anymore so I am with Coles… which may or not be doing weird stuff. I havent examined with a microscope, perhaps I should.

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How many of us have that experience? We have to go with reputation and blind faith our insurer will come through. Based on the online reviews I would not put much trust in any one of them, although there are some I would not get near for any savings.

Once you have that experience it is also the case as posted from time to time that some companies don’t want to know you any more, so off you go into the great unknown.

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