The Post

$20,000 for ‘useless’ insurance


KIWIS living in Australia could be covered by worthless insurance, with some policies excluding New Zealanders.

Judith and Charles Cairns discovered they had paid the ANZ bank A$20,000 over nearly a decade for life insurance that would never pay out because of their residentia­l status.

‘‘Our money is the same as Australian money, it’s just straight discrimina­tion,’’ Charles Cairns, 58, said.

The Western Australia-based pair have now taken a complaint of racial discrimina­tion to the New South Wales Anti-Discrimina­tion Board, which is investigat­ing.

Meanwhile, expat groups have warned that many Kiwis could be at risk, paying for useless life and income insurance.

But in correspond­ence included in the complaint, an ANZ lawyer said the couple, not the bank, had mistakenly identified themselves as permanent residents. The lawyer said claims that the policy discrimina­ted based on race or nationalit­y were ‘‘misconceiv­ed’’ and refused to change the policy.

ANZ did not provide

further comment before publicatio­n.

The Cairns moved to Australia in 2004 and soon afterwards bought life insurance, valued at $200,000 each, from OnePath, which is provided by ANZ bank.

Like most Kiwis who reside permanentl­y in Australia, the couple are not technicall­y permanent residents. Instead, they were granted ‘‘temporary’’ visas that allow them to live in Australia indefinite­ly but exclude them from many social safety nets.

While the couple’s daughter-inlaw was checking their finances earlier this year, including their life insurance, she noticed a change to the policy wording in 2006, which specifical­ly excluded non-permanent residents.

When she raised this with the bank, a lawyer replied that the couple had never been covered by the policy for which they had paid thousands in premiums because they were ‘‘not citizens or permanent residents of Australia’’.

Cairns said this was despite ANZ telling them they were a permanent residents when selling the insurance. ‘‘I believed I was a permanent resident and entitled to insurance. Why wouldn’t I be?’’

The bank refunded the 10 years of premiums this year and, after the Cairns went to the media, offered them a new insurance policy.

However, the policy of excluding other Kiwis remained and Cairns believed there were potentiall­y many Kiwis paying for insurance that provided no protection at all.

While Judith has managed to get new life insurance, Charles said he had since suffered a stroke and was finding it more difficult.

Maureen Unasa, of Kiwi rights group OzKiwi, said she was aware of at least one other Kiwi who had made an insurance claim only to be told they were not covered.

The law around permanent residents was ‘‘open to interpreta­tion’’ and the life and income insurance industry did not have a united position on covering Kiwis.

 ??  ?? Kiwis Judith and Charles Cairns, pictured with their grandchild­ren, paid premiums for nearly a decade in Australia on a policy that wouldn’t cover them.
Kiwis Judith and Charles Cairns, pictured with their grandchild­ren, paid premiums for nearly a decade in Australia on a policy that wouldn’t cover them.

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