January 23, 2018
AIA Australia has added its voice to calls to allow life insurance companies to cover medical treatment and rehabilitation expenses, claiming that advances in treatment will allow people to return to work sooner.
The insurer called for the government to change legislation that restricted life companies from contributing to early rehabilitation and medical expenses, moving away from the current system where insurers are restricted to occupational rehabilitation rather than medical assistance.
AIA Australia and New Zealand Chief Executive, Damian Mu said the insurer was focused on driving reforms in the sector that benefitted consumers and helped people live longer and healthier lives.
“For successful rehabilitation, we recommend supporting programs that seek to return people to productive work as soon as possible, which research shows improves their mental health and overall wellbeing,” Mu said.
“For successful rehabilitation, we recommend supporting programs that seek to return people to productive work as soon as possible…”
AIA Australia stated that early intervention increased the likelihood of a person returning to work and pointed to research that indicates when a person is off work for 20 days the chance of returning to work is 70 per cent but this drops away the longer they are off work. At 45 days, the chance of returning to work is 50 per cent and after 70 days, it has reduced to 35 per cent.
“Advances in treatment and understanding of workplace injuries have resulted in earlier intervention and assistance to gain a better outcome for the injured worker,” Mu said, adding, “If the current legislation is changed, we will be better able to help our members to be well, get well and protect their financial future”.
A similar call for change has been made by the Financial Services Council which stated in its submission to the PJC Inquiry into Life Insurance that its life insurer members “…wish to offer targeted rehabilitation payments for medical treatment or therapy that they determine to be relevant, appropriate and necessary to assist the life insured return to work.”
“If these restrictions were removed, life insurers would be able to use more effective early claim intervention practices which would increase a life insured’s probability of successful rehabilitation to assist in a speedy recovery and associated long term benefits for the individual and society,” the FSC stated.