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AFCA stands by Uber ruling at odds with guidance

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The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has published an agreed “approach” to insurance disputes over ridesharing disclosure – but says it won’t review a recent case that appears to contradict the new guidelines.

AFCA says its approaches documents “outline how we approach certain types of financial complaints we receive”.

The ridesharing document says “difficulties arise” when someone fails to notify their insurer that they have started ridesharing, but the car is then damaged “in circumstances which have nothing to do with ridesharing”.

AFCA says if the accident happens during the first term of insurance, and the driver was not using the vehicle for ridesharing at the time, then the insurer should pay.

“If the collision occurred during the first period of insurance, it is not a question of non-disclosure,” it says.

However, if the complainant failed to disclose the vehicle’s change of use when renewing the policy, the insurer would be entitled to deny the claim.

A case reported by late last year rules against an Uber driver whose circumstances appear to mirror those defined as deserving payment in the approach document.

The driver, who speaks limited English, said he bought an insurance policy on March 13 last year and was not registered with Uber at the time. He joined Uber on April 20, but completed his last trip as an Uber driver on May 30.

The crash took place on June 1 while the vehicle was being driven for private and personal use.

AFCA said the insurer was entitled to deny the claim because it would have cancelled the policy had the complainant informed it of the change of use.

AFCA told today that it would not be reviewing the determination.

“Each determination is made on the basis of the information provided at the time,” Lead Ombudsman Insurance John Price said.

“Once we’ve issued a determination that is final.”

Mr Price says the determination “could be interpreted as being inconsistent with the approach” but that every policy is different and wordings are also taken into account.

He says the approach will “apply to matters going forward”, but not determinations already made.

AFCA determinations are not binding on consumers, and complainants are not prevented from taking legal action.

Click here to read the approach document and here for the previous ruling.