The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has granted interim authorisation to allow insurers and brokers to implement relief measures aimed at supporting small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the ACCC, its authorisation provides statutory protection for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. Those interested in taking part in the initiative will need to notify the watchdog.
Among those participating is QBE Insurance, whose SME customers that are experiencing financial hardship will benefit from deferred premium payments except for workers’ compensation and accident & health. Workers’ compensation premium support, however, will be provided.
In addition, those with natural disaster claims who would like to manage their own repairs will have access to an accelerated cash-settlement process, and vacant business premises will also continue to enjoy full insurance cover. You can read about further benefits being offered by QBE here.
Meanwhile the Australian operations of Allianz, which on May 11 will have a new chief risk officer in the form of Tara Laybutt, will be working with eligible SME policyholders and their brokers to organise flexible payment arrangements. Also, wherever possible, Allianz will reduce payment times to 15 days or less.
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Full cover for premises will be maintained even if the policy’s occupancy requirements aren’t met, with no additional premium loading for unoccupied properties. Cash settlement will also be available to those hit by this summer’s bushfires or hail storms if they so wish, instead of Allianz arranging for repairs or replacement.
As for the area of travel insurance, fees will not be charged in the event of cancellation. Unused premium will also be refunded. Like Allianz, Suncorp is providing refunds on unused portions of cancelled travel insurance policy premiums with fees waived.
Suncorp policyholders whose business premises are unoccupied due to the coronavirus outbreak will also be afforded continuity of existing insurance, with the provider maintaining current premiums, terms, and conditions. Similarly, it will reduce payment times for SME suppliers and contractors.
“Many small and medium-size Australian businesses are experiencing unprecedented financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but need to maintain essential insurance protections, in some cases in order to be able to continue to operate,” said ACCC chair Rod Sims. “There is a clear and urgent need for these measures.”
Further details, including information on eligibility, are available on the companies’ respective websites.