Commonwealth Bank has today announced that the Board of The Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Limited (CommInsure Board) has approved a range of measures to upgrade its product offering and provide further assurances.
Commonwealth Bank Chief Executive Ian Narev said he remained concerned about the customers who were the subject of recent media reports, and welcomed the actions being taken by CommInsure in response to the issues raised.
The Chairman of the CommInsure Board Geoff Austin said he apologised on behalf of CommInsure to the affected customers. Mr Austin said the CommInsure Board has met and reviewed current initiatives and agreed to immediately take additional steps to reassure customers of our values and our commitment to them.
Mr Austin said, “We remain absolutely focused on our customers. The concerns raised in the recent cases reported are not a reflection of the values of our people or our business.
“We expect the highest ethical standards of all our employees and will continue to ensure that the policies and processes within the business support these standards.”
Improving our offering to customers
CommInsure has accelerated the planned upgrade of its heart attack and severe rheumatoid arthritis definitions in its Trauma product. This upgrade will be released in a product disclosure statement by the end of March but coverage will be backdated and apply for all claim events from May 2014 onwards. May 2014 was the date of the last relevant product disclosure statement for the Trauma product. CommInsure has also committed to a more regular review of the life insurance offering to ensure definitions reflect evolving medical standards and practices.
Enhancing our claims process
CommInsure will introduce an additional layer of independence and assurance to its claim assessment and decision-making processes. Where CommInsure’s claims committee recommends a complex claim be declined, it will be referred to an Independent Review Panel. The Panel will consist of the Managing Director of CommInsure and at least two independent industry experts, who will be announced within the next month. A sub-committee of the CommInsure Board will monitor the outcomes of the Panel.
Reviewing claims and concerns
The CommInsure Board will appoint an independent expert to oversee a claim review program focused on past declined claims, with particular emphasis on customer advocacy. The independent expert will also be specifically asked to form a view on whether the circumstances surrounding the review of any particular claim warrants further action from the CommInsure Board.
Ethical concerns that have been aired in recent media reports will be independently investigated.
Assertions made in the media that CommInsure was not responsive to internal concerns raised are incorrect.
The CommInsure Board commissioned an independent review and other enquiries were made. CommInsure has taken a range of actions, including benchmarking of product features, targeted review of customer claims, governance changes to enhance structural independence and additional training for claims staff, including customer empathy and professional protocols.
CommInsure customers who have any questions or concerns about their CommInsure policy are encouraged to contact us directly on 1800 106 133 or 13 10 56.
CommInsure provides insurance to over four million customers. In 2015, CommInsure paid more than $850 million of life and income protection payments to 22,000 people and their families. The evidence shows that in the vast majority of cases the right outcomes for customers are reached in the right way.
Last year, the Financial Ombudsman Service reported that the likelihood of a dispute involving CommInsure was two per 100,000 policies. Regardless, wherever we have let customers down it is our responsibility to do the right thing.