Insurers will remain in the spotlight of the discrimination debate in Australia

To celebrate the countdown to Christmas, the Corporate Insurance team will be publishing a prediction for 2014 each day.

A number of industry bodies have been agitating for greater access to insurance for marginalized groups. This debate is unlikely to subside before more stringent action is taken.

Last year an exposure draft of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 was released aiming to consolidate anti-discrimination laws across Australia, and address two key issues associated with the current legislation. These were:

  • There is currently an insurance exception under anti-discrimination legislation that is seen to discriminate against certain vulnerable groups; and
  • Insurers are not presently held accountable for the privilege of being exempt from anti-discrimination law in certain limited circumstances. The exposure draft proposed that insurers must provide a copy of or reasonable access to the relevant data if requested in writing.

However, the draft scheme was found to be inadequate and was subsequently referred back to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for re-working with no set time frame.

Bodies including the Mental Health Council of Australia, Beyondblue and Age Discrimination Awareness have been encouraging those affected to voice their dissatisfaction and press for amendments. So, insurers should rely on accurate statistical data when using gender, age or disability as a risk factor in the calculation of premium and benefits.