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Friday, 30 May 1930

Senator COOPER (Queensland) . - I should like Senator McLachlan's opinion in regard to a somewhat similar case, which came under my notice a few years ago. A policy was takenout in 1914. The insured person went to the war and paid a war-risk premium. Later on he was badly wounded, and in the expectation that he would be returned to Australia, the war-risk premium was dropped. He got better, however, and subsequently joined the Australian Flying Corps. When he did so he wrote to the insurance company stating that he would be prepared to take the further risk himself, and his policy, during the time he was away, was left with the insurance company. When lie returned and asked for his policy he found that it had been endorsed with the declaration that the company would not pay any insurance in the event of death, directly or indirectly, from the results of aviation. That endorsement had been placed on the policy without his consent, although the policy had been taken out before it was evidently the practice of the companies to endorse its policies in that way. The company refused his request that as he had returned to civil life the endorsement should be cancelled. I should like to know if it was legal for the company to do what it did, and if the endorsement could apply after the insured person had been discharged from the Australian Air Force.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE (Western Australia) [3.37]. - The language used by Senator Hoare was rather ridiculous in view of the explanation given by Senator McLachlan.

Senator Hoare - 1 should have used much stronger language if it were permissible to do so.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE.In the case in point, the terms of the policy were that, once compensation had been paid for any particular complaint, no further claim could be made for that complaint; and if a woman does not desire to renew her policy on those terms, she is at perfect liberty to discontinue the payment of premiums. It is ridiculous to talk about fraud. That is extravagant language to use. It occurs to me, however, that there should be some form of protection for those who are ignorant of the law and the conditions of the law. That is what is aimed at by Senator Dunn.

Senator Dunn - That is so.

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE - In the consideration of that proposition there is. no need to impute motives. It is clear, from what Senator McLachlan has said, that the policy cited by Senator Dunn was altered in accordance with the regulations then existing. The woman being quite unaware of this, naturally thought that she was being, defrauded, although the company did what was quite within its province to do. The regulations, however, were not made under any act relating to insurance, but represented an agreement made between insurance companies. Obviously that is not the way it should be done. Once compensation has been paid under a policy, the company should not be required to pay it again, because the premium is based on the payment of one claim only. Once a claim has been exhausted under the companies' regulations it cannot be revived within two years. It seems to me that clause 57, which Senator Dunn is seeking to amend, is not the proper clause to deal with the matter. It deals with the form of proposal, whereas what Sena'tor Dunn is aiming at is the actual proposal which has been signed and accepted. I suggest that his amendment could more properly be made in clause 59, which deals with " objections to policies, and could also be made to deal with alterations to policies. I sympathize with the claim that, where an alteration is made to a policy, even if it is in conformity with the law, there should be some one to police it, and see that the rights of the insured are protected. In cases of industrial policies we cannot expect women who make these agreements to be aware of what the law provides. I suggest that Senator Dunn should withdraw his amendment, and bring the matter under the notice of the Government, with a view to an amendment being drafted for insertion in the bill when it is being considered in another place. Even where an alteration to a policy is made in accordance with an agreement entered into between, the underwriters and the insurance companies, it should go before some independent person, such as the registrar, who knows the law, so that he may see whether it is in accordance with the terms of the policy and the terms of the law. It does not seem to me that the company should be the judge of its own case.

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