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Navigating the End of Cheque Usage in Australian Insurance Payments

Navigating the End of Cheque Usage in Australian Insurance Payments

As Australia marches towards the cessation of cheque payments, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), in partnership with the National Insurance Brokers Association, is addressing key considerations for a seamless transition, focusing on client interaction and data safeguards.
ICA's chief, Andrew Hall, has emphasized these focal points amidst the government's push to eliminate cheques by 2030.

Proactive measures are underway within insurance circles to usher retail consumers into alternative payment methodologies. Commenting on the evolving landscape, Mr. Hall noted disparities in adaptation timelines among insurers, with 2024 serving as a potential operative target. This adaptation is in anticipation of banks phasing out cheque services starting this year.

The Treasury has expressed cognizance of cheque-based proclivities in insurance practices, a challenge compounded by brokers' exclusive custody of clients' banking details and the necessity of cheques for customer reimbursements.

Confronted with the ceasing of cheque utilities, insurance vendors are considering limited claims settlements to methods like gift cards or digital transfers. Yet, compliance with anti-money laundering laws constrains gift card usage, sparking demands for added settlement versatility during the migratory term, as advised by the ICA.

Challenges germinate in processing particular payments for claims, policy cancellations, and delivering prompt aid to financially-strapped policyholders, a sentiment vocalized by Mr. Hall. Detailed are the conundrums in locating previous customers for rectification payouts, correspondingly more intricate than contact issues in current claims or policy annulments.

Expedited claims handling faces additional pressure where legal procedures like subpoenas and freedom of information requests rely on cheques. The initial phase-out stages could impede crucial information retrieval for claims processing, even in the wake of potential government concessions.

Furthermore, entities such as health care institutions, which predominantly opt for cheque-based payments for workers' compensation claims, necessitate governments to refine public sector cheque practices. Collaborative government synergy is encouraged to cushion this paradigm shift in transaction means.

The ICA forecasts escalated inquiries related to insurance and anticipates a rise in unclaimed funds, indicative of a pivotal need for industry-government harmony in ushering a fluid progression from cheque-based transactions to digital alternatives.

Published:Thursday, 8th Feb 2024
Source: Paige Estritori

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