A number of life insurance companies have announced a variety of measures to help their customers affected by the immense scale of the nation’s bushfire events.
MLC Life Insurance
MLC Life Insurance has announced further relief measures for customers facing hardship arising from the bushfires across Australia.
A statement from the insurer says it will waive premiums for up to three months for affected retail insurance customers. Customers or their advisers can contact MLC from now until the end of February 2020 about the offer and how it applies to them.
MLC says advisers with customers in areas impacted by the bushfires are encouraged to contact their MLC Life Insurance Distribution Engagement Manager or call 136522 to apply for the offer. Customers can call 136525. The premium waiver will be available to existing customers who reside in a bushfire-affected area Australia-wide.
David Hackett, CEO of MLC Life Insurance, said in the statement: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and devastation caused by the immense scale of bushfires across Australia. By offering this assistance to our customers, MLC Life Insurance wants to support them to ensure that their life insurance cover remains in place, so they can focus on restoring their lives as quickly as possible.”
The insurer also noted that relief measures have been in place for retail customers in New South Wales and Queensland since November. Relief measures have now expanded to all states and territories across Australia.
Zurich’s bushfire crisis response includes financial relief, charitable giving and leveraging its mental health programme.
A media release from the company says that this is in addition to managing related general and life insurance claims “in an expedited and empathetic manner”.
The insurer says that its immediate pledge to the Australian bushfire crisis includes extending a two-month life insurance premium waiver for Zurich and OnePath Life customers who are impacted or experiencing hardship.
This includes those Zurich and OnePath life insurance customers who:
- Have been directly impacted by the fires
- Are volunteering in fire impacted regions or are with emergency response teams, to the detriment of their own financial wellbeing
It says the waiver already in place for New South Wales and Queensland fire-affected customers, which was introduced in November 2019, now applies nationally (see: Zurich, One Path Premium Waiver Offer).
“The waiver will extend to at least 30 March 2020, with ongoing re-assessment as the situation unfolds.”
It is also looking to expedited claims handling and says its specialist claims teams are mobilised to support customers as quickly as possible.
Life insurance claims can be lodged as follows:
- Zurich customers: 1800 500 655 or email@example.com
- OnePath Life customers: 1300 55 250 or firstname.lastname@example.org
General insurance claims can be lodged online at any time (click here) or by phone on 132 687.
The company says it has engaged with its suppliers and is ready to deploy assessors and builders once access to impacted areas are available.
“We are also ready to issue emergency and interim payments and to quickly settle claims.”
The insurer is also donating an additional $60,000 to the Red Cross immediately, on top of $40,000 provided to the Red Cross and the Rural Fire Service in November 2019. This is being done via the Z Zurich Foundation. It says it is pledging up to $500,000 in support of the crisis. Donations received to the Red Cross via this link will be 50 percent matched by the foundation.
The insurer says it is also leveraging its MindFIT mental health initiatives, a range of resources and programmes available to customers, financial advisers, employees and the community depending on the context and requirement.
AMP is partnering with its advisers to offer free financial advice to Australians who have suffered severe loss due to the bushfires along with a one-off, three-month waiver from paying AMP life and other insurance premiums.
The insurer says in a statement that the pro bono service, which includes general and personal advice, is available to both AMP clients and members of the general public who have had a major financial or personal loss from the bushfires. Affected Australians can call 13 30 30 to discuss their needs.
AMP Australia CEO, Alex Wade, said the initiative will help individuals and families on their road to recovery.
“We have advisers in local communities across many of the impacted areas who would like to help people get back on their feet,” Wade said.
AMP has also put together a disaster relief package for its clients impacted by the bushfires including:
- A one-off, three-month waiver from paying AMP life, total and permanent disability, trauma, income protection and business expenses insurance premiums
- Waiving of certain bank fees for customers requiring urgent access to their funds
- Temporarily postponing home loan repayments or extending the term of a loan
- If the ATO has assessed that a customer is eligible on compassionate grounds, releasing superannuation funds early to help with medical and other expenses
The insurer says that the AMP Foundation is offering financial assistance to all involved rural fire brigades where its employees and advisers volunteer. It says that AMP employees and the AMP Foundation have so far donated more than $300,000 to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund.