ANZ, OnePath to face legal action



ANZ and its life insurance arm OnePath are set to face legal action from a New Zealand couple whose financial adviser raised concerns with the wording in their policy.

The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) granted Charles and Judith Cairns permission this week to proceed with a complaint of race discrimination against ANZ and OnePath.

In 2005, the Cairns purchased life insurance through OnePath that was only for permanent Australian residents aged 21 to 59.

About 10 years later, however, the couple’s financial adviser discovered that they were not covered under this definition.

“The wording had changed to define permanent resident of Australia as ‘an Australian citizen or a person in possession of a permanent resident’s visa’,” NCAT said.

“The Cairns’ financial adviser wrote to OnePath on 28 March 2015 to clarify the matter. On 9 April 2015, the Cairns received a response from OnePath stating that the Cairns ‘would not be covered from commencement of the policy as they are not citizens or permanent residents of Australia’.”

OnePath then advised the couple to cancel the policy and refunded all paid premiums. It also issued an apology and offered the couple a new policy “with more favourable terms”, NCAT said.

The Cairns, however, rejected the settlement offer because of their concern for other New Zealand citizens living in Australia. The couple is now taking legal action against ANZ and OnePath for race discrimination.

NCAT said if the complaints proceed to a hearing, it is possible that the Cairns would be able to prove that “the alleged conduct constitutes a breach of the Anti-Discrimination Act.”

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