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Industry giants help tackle 'pervasive' financial abuse

Insurers IAG and Suncorp have joined the Respect and Protect national initiative to combat a rise in financial abuse.

They will ban misuse of their products and services, updating terms and conditions or policies.

IAG executive for people performance and reputation Christine Stasi says the insurer continues to modify its policies to reduce “potential for weaponisation and misuse”.

“It is critical that IAG takes a leading role through its customer brands including NRMA Insurance to help eliminate financial abuse and support victim-survivors,” she said.

Suncorp CEO of consumer insurance Lisa Harrison says the insurer is updating its wording because “an insurance policy is no place for financial or other types of abuse and using them in this way can have serious impacts”.

Economic abuse affects 2.4 million Australians, including one in six women and one in 13 men, an Australian Bureau of Statistics study found.

“Everyone has a role to play and this action from businesses is essential if we are to end domestic, family and sexual violence in a generation,” Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Commission head Micaela Cronin said.

The Respect and Protect Initiative was founded by social enterprise Flequity Ventures and University of NSW professor Catherine Fitzpatrick, who says financial abuse is “pervasive and destroys many more lives than people realise”.

Perpetrators misuse services such as insurance to threaten others, or they accrue debts in their victim’s name.