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Action over ‘misleading’ insurance loyalty discounts

A class action is accusing insurers linked to IAG of misleading customers over loyalty discounts.

A class action is accusing insurers linked to IAG of misleading customers over loyalty discounts. Photo: AAP

Millions of Australian insurance customers could be eligible to join a class action over allegedly misleading loyalty discounts.

Slater and Gordon has filed action in the Victorian Supreme Court over how loyalty discounts were calculated and promoted to “entice” people to renew home and contents policies between 2018 and 2024.

The law firm alleges customers were told they received discounts based on how many years they stayed with the insurer or the number of policies they had, but may have been paying a higher base premium in the first place.

The class action is against RACV, SGIO and SGIC, which operate under parent Insurance Australia Group (IAG).

The company, which claims to be the largest general insurance company in Australia and New Zealand, does not agree customers were misled and will defend the action.

Slater and Gordon’s Ben Hardwick alleges a computer program was used to identify which customers were likely to shop around if their policies increased and which would stay loyal to their insurer.

“We’re alleging that millions of Australians paid premiums year-on-year to these IAG insurers on the promise that they were getting a discount,” Hardwick said.

“But in reality, because of this pricing algorithm they were using, new customers were typically paying less for their policies than loyal customers who had been with them for more than 20 years.”

He claimed those loyal customers who were unlikely to leave then received higher premium increases.

“These legal proceedings should put all insurance companies on notice that this kind of misleading, deceptive and unconscionable conduct will be acted upon by consumers,” Hardwick said.

The law firm alleges the insurers’ conduct breached financial services laws and they either knew or should have known it was not in the interest of customers.

In a statement provided by the law firm, lead plaintiff Angela Williams said she was shocked to find out about the allegations.

The 56-year-old had home and contents insurance with RACV for more than two decades.

“I thought I was getting a good deal,” Williams said.

“If I had known that RACV was actually charging me a higher base premium because of a pricing algorithm, I would have switched right away.”

Insurance Australia Group said its subsidiaries Insurance Australia Limited (IAL) and Insurance Manufacturers of Australia Pty Limited (IMA) intend to defend against the Slater and Gordon action.

It is also defending related proceedings launched by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in the Federal Court.

“IAL and IMA maintain they have delivered on loyalty promises made to customers and do not agree that they have misled customers about the extent of the discounts they would receive,” the company said in a statement.

Slater and Gordon has asked customers to visit its website for more information on the class action, which it is running on a no win-no fee basis.

– AAP

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