Provide adequate funding for the Insurance Law Service

Provide adequate funding for the Insurance Law Service

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Financial Rights Legal Centre started this petition to Attorney General Michaelia Cash

The Financial Rights Legal Centre operates a specialist free Insurance Law Service (“ILS”) that provides independent legal advice for consumers across Australia. The ILS has been providing free legal advice about insurance to Australians since 2007. 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.

On 9 August 2021 the service had to cut it hours in half because there is not enough funding to keep all of its specialist solicitors. As the year progresses the ILS will be losing the majority of its funding and without further funding the ILS’s national advice line will struggle to remain viable. The small amount of funding currently provided by the Attorney-General’s Department is insufficient for this vital national service. Other sources of funding that have kept the service afloat are running out.

Use of the service has increased by over 600% since it started and demand is significantly higher than can be met. Even before this reduction in hours the ILS was only able to answer 40% of the calls each day. From 9 August only a small fraction of Australians needing free legal assistance with their insurance dispute will be able to access this service. Since 2007 the service has answered over 65,000 calls for legal advice and has represented over 1400 clients for free, successfully assisting clients in relation to disputed claims on income protection, travel insurance, car insurance and home and contents policies. Some people have scrimped and saved to pay for insurance premiums they can ill afford, only to have their claim denied when they really need it or to discover that the insurance product itself is a bit of a sham. The ILS gives people who can’t afford legal advice a fighting chance.

We urge you to take urgent action to ensure this service retains adequate funding.

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