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Evicted tenant loses dispute over late benefit payments – Life Insurance – Insurance News

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A complainant who claimed he was evicted because he was not receiving his monthly income protection benefit payments on time from AMP Life to pay his rent has lost his dispute.

He says the insurer should compensate him for the $10,130 moving costs he suffered after he was told to move out and the $31,990 loss he made from selling his personal items because of the late benefit payments.

But the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) says the eviction notice issued on April 9 last year states the fixed term rental agreement ends a few months later on July 16, the date the complainant must vacate the property.

AFCA points out also that the eviction notice made no mention the complainant was being evicted because he was not able to pay the rent.

“If the reason for the eviction was delayed payments or non-payment of rent, it is likely the eviction notice would say so,” AFCA says in its ruling of the dispute.

While earlier communications between the complainant and the landlord showed there were late payments of rent, AFCA says it did not agree the delays in receiving the income protection benefit money by a few days from AMP Life led to the eviction notice.

“The [income protection benefit payments] delays ought not have left the complainant in arrears for long,” AFCA said. “The information the complainant provided suggests the rent was in arrears for more than 54 days in January 2021.

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“I am therefore not satisfied the delayed benefit payments caused the complainant to be evicted from the property.”

AFCA notes also that evidence suggests the policyholder was already having financial difficulties when he lodged his income protection claim in August 2019 and that he may have submitted the claim after some time of being unable to work.

“This is not the insurer’s fault,” AFCA said.

AFCA says it is also not the insurer’s fault if the complainant was unable to cover expenses from the benefit payments he received and had to sell personal belongings to cover his expenses.

However, AFCA ruled the insurer must compensate the complainant $1000 for non-financial loss due to delays in making the income protection benefit payments.

AFCA says its review of the information showed short delays of not more than five days on six occasions after the claim was accepted in February 2020.

The external financial dispute arbiter says it is important that payments are consistent and timely as the purpose of an income protection policy is to pay a benefit in the event the insured is unable to work because of a disability.

“While none of the delays is very long, there were several short delays,” AFCA said. “I am satisfied that the irregularity of payment was unfair and unnecessary and caused significant distress to the complainant.”

Click here for the ruling.

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