Financial Rights Legal Centre
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MEDIA RELEASE: Consumers losing access to only free insurance legal advice helpline in Australia

Monday 9 August 2021

Due to insufficient funding, today the Financial Rights Legal Centre had to cut its Insurance Law Service in half.

Since 2007 this free legal advice service has operated seven hours a day from Monday-Friday, but from today it can only keep the lines open from 10am-1pm. Without an injection of funding this service will be cut even more drastically next year.

The Insurance Law Service was already oversubscribed, and on average less than 40% of the calls are answered each day. After this reduction only a small fraction of Australians that need legal assistance with their insurance claims will be able to get help.

Financial Rights Legal Centre Chief Executive Officer Karen Cox said “whether affected by a motor vehicle accident, theft, illness, injury or natural disaster, consumers of insurance are doubly traumatised when their insurance claim does not run smoothly and benefit enormously from independent advice.”

“This is the only free specialist insurance advice service in Australia, and our phones are already ringing off the hook. I am devastated to have to cut the service in half, but we have lost so many solicitors because of insufficient funding, we have no choice.”

“Unfortunately now hundreds more consumers will not be able to access independent and free legal advice about their insurance. There is nowhere else for them to go for specialist advice.”

Financial Rights has operated the Insurance Law Service partially with funding by the Attorney General’s Department and partially from one off funds from ASIC enforceable undertakings. Since 2007 the service has taken over 65,000 calls or emails for advice and gave legal casework assistance to nearly 1400 individuals experiencing financial distress. 

Over the last 14 years the Insurance Law Service has developed specialist expertise in consumer insurance disputes following extreme weather events across Australia. This expertise is being lost as solicitors are being made redundant from the service due to lack of funding.

Karen Cox said “many consumers don’t think about their insurance until they have to claim, only to find out that the process is a lot more complicated than they thought or that the cover isn’t what they believed it would be.” 

“Insurance claims don’t always run smoothly and this can hit people when they are at their most vulnerable – like after a natural disaster when they have lost their home. People turn to our service for advice and support. Where will they turn if we are forced to close?”

Financial Rights is doing everything it can to save this invaluable service, and it has started a petition to the Commonwealth Attorney General.  If you would like to support the Insurance Law Service, you can sign the Change.org petition on the Insurance Law website. 

Contact


For further information contact Julia Davis media@financialrights.org.au or 0478 504 634

About Financial Rights

The Financial Rights Legal Centre is a community legal centre that specialises in helping consumers understand and enforce their financial rights with consumer financial products and services, especially low income and otherwise marginalised or vulnerable consumers. We provide free and independent financial counselling, legal advice and representation to individuals through our following channels:

  • Insurance Law Service 1300 663 464 – our national service focusing on problems with insurance or debts to insurers (insurancelaw.org.au and mva.financialrights.org.au);
  • National Debt Helpline 1800 007 007 – for people needing to talk to a financial counsellor (please note this line is answered by a number of different services around Australia, Financial Rights is one of those services);
  • Credit and Debt Legal Advice Line 1800 844 949 for those needing legal advice in NSW;
  • Mob Strong Debt Help 1800 808 488 – our national service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander callers https://financialrights.org.au/mob-strong-debt-help/.

Financial Rights Legal Centre – https://financialrights.org.au/