Australia’s biggest insurers offer deferred payments to coronavirus impacted small businesses

By Niko Iliakis ·

Three of Australia’s largest general insurers have introduced a number of measures to support Australia’s small businesses, most notably by allowing premium payments to be deferred for up to six months.

In a joint statement, the CEOs of Suncorp Insurance, QBE and Allianz said they were well-placed to offer relief to their business customers at a time when many are struggling to keep their doors open.

“As insurance partners for around half this market, the measures announced will provide financial relief, while maintaining coverage under their insurance,” they said.

“Together, we have laid a platform for the industry to sustainably support the tens of thousands of small businesses who have been heavily impacted by this crisis, which follows the summer of bushfires, floods and storms across the country.”

Allianz

  • Option to defer premium payments for up to six months.
  • Continued insurance cover for policyholders whose business premises are vacant.
  • Reduction of payment times to SME suppliers and contractors from 30 days to 15 days or less, where possible.
  • Refund on unused premium for customers that purchased travel insurance for trips they are no longer able to make.
  • Refund on any unused premium for customers that wish to cancel their cover. No cancellation or administration fees will apply.

Allianz announced it will be working with SME customers that are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the current crisis, offering flexible payment options such as the ability to defer premium payments for up to six months or arrange for payments to be made in monthly instalments.

For customers that were affected by the bushfires and hail storms of a few months ago, Allianz will also offer to provide a cash settlement if that is preferable to arranging for any damaged property to be repaired or replaced.

In a statement, an Allianz representative said “These are unprecedented times and we know many of our customers will be significantly impacted by the economic and social ramifications flowing from the pandemic. As always, Allianz will respond to all claims with empathy.”

Suncorp

  • Option to defer premium payments for up to six months.
  • Continued insurance cover for policyholders whose business premises are vacant.
  • Refund on unused premium for customers that purchased travel insurance for trips they are no longer able to make.
  • Refunds on any unused premium for customers that wish to cancel their cover. No cancellation or administration fees will apply.
  • Reduction of payment times to SME suppliers and contractors to 15 days or less.

The assistance package rolled out by Suncorp will apply to Vero, GIO, AAMI and Resilium SME customers, so long as their business has an annual turnover of less than $10 million and up to 20 employees, or 100 if the business is in the manufacturing sector.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, employing more than five million Australians. As one of the country’s largest general insurers, it’s vital we are there for the small business community when they need us most,” said Suncorp Group CEO, Steve Johnston.

“The initial suite of measures offered through our Small Business COVID-19 Relief Package will provide clarity and flexibility for customers, while continuing to support activity among thousands of our suppliers. We’ll continue to assess how this crisis will impact our customers and what further measures we can implement.”

QBE

  • Option to defer premium payments for up to six months.
  • Maintain expiring premium on Business Packages, Commercial Motor and Individual Personal Accident renewals, where the sum insured hasn’t changed.
  • Continued insurance cover for policyholders whose business premises are vacant.
  • Offer of ‘Laid up’ cover for Commercial Motor policies where vehicles are no longer on the road.Offer of Workers Compensation premium support to Workers 
  • Compensation SME customers with an annual premium of less than $50,000 (or less than $30,000 in Western Australia).

QBE will allow deferred premium payments for SME customers, so long as their annual turnover or asset value does not exceed $10 million and they qualify for COVID-19 support payments from the Government. This will not include Workers Compensation and Accident & Health cover.

Customers who have a natural disaster claim underway will also be able to opt for a cash settlement, rather than arranging for repairs or replacement of any damaged property to be made.

What’s more, the insurer has also signalled a commitment to paying suppliers faster and making changes to claims processes to reduce the risk of infection between suppliers and customers.

“We have listened to our customers and understand they need support now and will continue to do so over the coming months. The initiatives announced today are focused on meeting the immediate needs of our small and medium business customers and we are working hard to ensure that these can be delivered quickly,” said QBE Australia Pacific CEO, Vivek Bhatia.

For more information on the kinds of assistance you can access, we've got a rundown of the financial support available to small businesses that have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.