Suncorp denies problems but initiates ‘comprehensive insurance review’

Suncorp has denied to a Parliamentary Committee that it has any major issues with the total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance provided within its Suncorp Master Trust (SMT) but has also revealed it is undertaking a comprehensive review of insurance arrangements including TPD.

Suncorp had been directly challenged by the deputy chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics, Andrew Leigh, about reports based on Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) data that its insurer, Asteron, had been the most complained about group life insurer.

Asteron is now wholly-owned by TAL but currently remains a separate life insurer regulated by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).

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Suncorp said it had raised the ASIC data with Asteron Life and had been “given comfort the statistics presented were not indicative of the experience of members of the Suncorp Master Trust (SMT)”.

What is more it said it did not believe the current TPD definition for SMT members has been a major concern to membership” with insurance-driven complaint volumes driven by the impacts of Protecting Your Super and Putting Members Interest First changes.

“Members are routinely referred to the disclosure material in fund welcome packs, insurance commencement letters, annual statements, and insurance-change communications. The SMT insurance policies and product disclosure materials include eligibility terms which outline members must be gainfully employed for a minimum of 15 hours or more each week in order to claim against the “occupational” TPD definition,” it said.

“Members must be engaged in full-time domestic duties in order to claim against the ‘home duties’ TPD definition. Members who are unemployed or employed for less than 15 hours each week can claim against the ‘activities of daily living’ TPD definition. Members can also claim against the ‘specific loss’ or ‘significant cognitive impairment’ TPD definitions (as available) irrespective of their employment status or working hours.”

However Suncorp said that notwithstanding all of this, it “has commenced a comprehensive review of insurance arrangements with a view to simplify and make insurance arrangements more affordable along with aligning insurance services with best practice requirements under the Insurance in superannuation voluntary code of practice”.

“The review also includes a re-examination of TPD claim definitions with a view to simplify and remove the ‘activities of daily living’ definition, but without denying TPD protection to members who may be unemployed or working minimal hours,” it said.

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