CHOICE membership

Should I be penalised for this insurance policy oversight?

insurance

#1

When my ex-wife and I were together, she was the sole owner of a vehicle and she managed the insurance of that vehicle. I was named as a joint policyholder.
After we separated my ex-wife had a car accident and made an insurance claim with SGIC. I had lived at a different address and had not had access to the car for eight months, but my ex-wife had not removed me as a policy holder. The claim now appears on my record. I now have to disclose this claim when applying for my own car insurance, which will affect my premiums.

I have contacted SGIC to request that the claim is removed from my record. It took several weeks to get any kind of response from them at all. When I called their help line, I was advised that only the Claims Department could provide any remedy and that they would call me back. I also used their online form to request a call back. Nobody from SGIC has ever called me. Finally today I got hold of somebody on their webchat tool who was from Claims. Her advice was that the claim was finalised and could not be removed from my record, but that it was really a matter for Sales and Service(!) as only that Department had access to my claims record. I believe this to be an unreasonable position, but the customer service rep declined to offer me a way to escalate my request.

I would really appreciate some advice:

  1. Should SGIC be more accommodating of my request, or must I accept that this claim will always be on my record?
  2. If I have a case, how do I escalate this within SGIC to get a proper resolution?

I’m hoping some of you wonderful people who frequent these forums can help. Thank you!


#2

They possibly should be a little sympathetic if you can prove that you no longer had an interest in the car. This might be difficult unless you have some legal documents, such as evidence of a divorce indicating such.

Also check the wording when obtaining a quote to see if it is you as an individual who made the claim or against a policy you held. If it is the former, you could argue that it wasn’t you that made the claim.

A claim is usually recognised for a number of years. From memory doing my annual car insurance quotes to determine which company offers the most competitive policy for our needs, most companies seem to ask if a claim has been made in the previous 3 (or so) years. Therefore, it has the potentual to impact on your premiums until such time.

My thoughts would be yes only if you have evidence as outlined above.

The other option is to seek advice from the Australian Cinancial Complaints Authority. …

https://www.fos.org.au

Or the Insuance Ombudsman in your local State Government.


#3

Many policies stipulate quite clearly that joint policy holders are jointly held liable for any claim history. Thus it would have been your responsibility to inform SGIC when you separated/divorced.

Some companies do not accept joint policy holders but accept management rights, and sometimes being a joint policy holder does not mean you are a listed driver on the vehicle. How SGIC operates will be in the PDS.

Since it ‘could not be changed’ but it was a ‘sales and service issue’ in the same breath suggests she did not know and may have just fobbed you off.

Going formal would be your path to any potential resolution. Put everything in writing (including email) and assure you have return receipts of some kind to prove receipt. Send it to the SGIC complaints address/receiver shown on the SGIC policy PDS. As @phb indicated, include the full details of your changed domestic situation and ask for a remedy. They might help or might quote the terms in their PDS, so reading them and referencing anything in them that could support your request could be helpful.

When getting a quote I have not seen one that asks about claims more than 6 years old, although I have not seen them all. 3 years seems most common.

FWIW fos is now AFCA but they deal in disputes and until you have an unresolved complaint they may not be happy to get involved. AFCA and all of its brethren are not consumer advocates, they are industry sponsored mediators whose job is to make problems go away, so be realistic in that regard.


#4

I don’t know much about the law here so take what I say with some doubt.

If you did not advise that you were not a co-policy holder then you were one to them. If they took the risk of insuring you under those circumstances then is it not proper for them to tag you with the consequences?


#5

I don’t know the legalities, but you can’t be included on a policy as a joint policy holder without your express authority. Did you give approval? If you did, and then didn’t remove yourself you have to wear the consequences.

If you didn’t approve being on the policy, I would argue that seeing you didn’t take out the policy and you weren’t aware that you were on it, you can’t be held liable.

Therefore, assuming you didn’t approve, approach SGIC and request in writing that they remedy the situation by removing you.


#6

Try putting your case to the CEO of SGIC.
After a long time of trying and being denied a new driver licence number, an appeal to the CEO of VicRoads got me one.
Best of luck @Trumble!


#7

As divorce removes most legal bindings (particularly after property settlement) I would suggest providing that evidence to support your case to SGIC in a formal letter. The onus should after divorce and settlement resided with your partner who then became the responsible party to inform their insurer of a change of policy holders and conditions. As they seem not to have done so should not then impact your claims history. Even if only separated the Property Settlement documents should be proof of your loss of interest in the vehicle.

If this is unsuccessful with SGIC as others have suggested the next step would be the ombudsman and then possibly the Administrative Tribunal for your State/Territory.


#8

Thank you phb for your excellent advice. I will gather the evidence that you refer to and escalate the matter with SGIC. I’ll let you know how I get on.


#9

Thank you TheBBG. Great advice. I’ve found the SGIC complaints address and will be following up.


#10

Thank you syncretic. You may be right, and the insurance company is well within its rights to leave the record as is. I guess my enquiry is more about customer service than legal rights. I have been a paying customer of the company for many years, paying several thousand dollars for multiple policies in that time. With respect to this matter, the company has factored in the risk of insuring me into their premiums, when in reality I could never make a claim under the policy as I had no title in, or access to, the vehicle. I thought it might be reasonable in the circumstances that the company show some leniency, accept my situation at the time (after providing evidence) and remove the claim from my record - it would cost them nothing after all.


#11

Thanks Gaby. I’ll try the official complaints process first, but I’ll bear in mind your advice about going to the top!


#12

Thank you grahroll. I agree with your interpretation of the situation and I will follow your advice. I appreciate it so much that you and every one else took the trouble to reply to my post.