After two years in gestation, an adviser-led pro bono claims service for insurance policy holders has been officially launched, with a view to enhancing the industry’s community reputation.
Having first reported on the development of the pro bono service in mid-2013, ifa has been informed that the ‘Claims Aid’ service is now operational, providing claims assistance services both to advised and non-advised consumers.
“Whilst many advisers already provide pro bono advice, this is an industry first for Australia’s financial planning industry,” said Claims Aid co-founder Peter Kaleta, a principal adviser at Suncorp-aligned practice Life Shield.
Mr Kaleta explained that the program has been launched with a “small network of senior advisers” from across the country, but that the Claims Aid group is encouraging other risk-focused advisers to get involved.
“Assistance will often take the form of a simple discussion with the claimant to help them to understand their insurance, what they are covered for and whether or not they may have a legitimate claim,” said a statement from Claims Aid.
“Other situations will require more extensive assistance, including investigations, gathering required documents and discussions with the insurer on behalf of the claimant.”
Co-founder Jamie Forster of boutique firm Elston Assure said the program will not only reap benefits for claimants but potentially for the advice industry as well.
“Pro bono work is an important ethical value of a profession. Claims Aid advisers are motivated by a desire to provide a genuine public service, particularly for the more vulnerable in our community,” Mr Forster said.
“As well as providing a tangible benefit to consumers, it enables the industry to highlight the good things we are doing.
“This is great for an industry that has had its fair share of negative publicity, much of it unfair.”
In July 2013, Mr Forster told ifa that the support of the industry associations – particularly the FSC, FPA and AFA – was required in order to make the program a success.
“There seems to be a lot of talking but not a lot of doing in relation to pro bono and community service,” he said.