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Gaius Whiffin discussing TPD and Superannuation claims

Gaius Whiffin providing Q & A on the 2GB Chris Smith Afternoon Show discussing TPD and Superannuation – 27 November 2018

Tuesday, 27 November 2018



CS– Chris Smith /Gaius Whiffin–   C1,2,3, etc – Callers 



CS       We can get back to these subjects a little later in the program – no problem – 131 873 – now when you pay your super and pay the premiums for things like total and permanent disability cover, you’d thing that you’re covered if anything happened to you right?  I mean that’s how it’s supposed to work – you pay for a service and you get one.  Well apparently this is a concept that none of our financial institutions clearly understand.  First, we heard about our banks charging fees to services that didn’t even exist.  We’ve had plenty of evidence of that – then we started to hear stories about insurers and superannuation funds not honouring their customer’s policies in their time of need.  And it was recently revealed at the Royal Commission that a paraplegic customer of Rest Super had her TPD payout cancelled and she didn’t even know it.  They didn’t tell her.  In another case a former customer of the same super fund who developed post traumatic stress disorder after being stabbed multiple times had his payout knocked back because the 71 day grace period had ended just 4 days before their diagnosis.  And the worst part is that he continued paying premiums despite not being covered.  It really makes you wonder doesn’t it?  Whether the premiums you’re paying for with your superannuation even exist and that’s some of our focus in today’s legal matters segment.  If you’ve got a question about super TPD or if you’ve been dudded by your own fund, call in now – 131 873 is the telephone number – and I’ve got that $100 Westfield voucher.  Someone has to get it – the $100 Westfield voucher to go to one of our callers in the next 20 minutes.  Turner Freeman Lawyers provide a range of specialised legal services including compensation and negligence law, asbestos litigation, superannuation and disability claims, family and employment law, Wills and Estate and property law – their NSW offices, Sydney Parramatta, Campbelltown, Penrith, Newcastle, Wollongong.  And in QLD, Brisbane, Logan, North Lakes, Ipswich, Toowoomba, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Cairns.  Gaius Whiffin is a Partner at Turner Freeman Sydney office and he joins me right here in the studio now – Gaius – thank you very much for coming in.

GW     Thanks Chris.

CS       I have no words for the 2 cases I mentioned.  Is it common for super TPD payouts to be knocked back without member’s knowledge?  Or for it to be knocked back even if the customer is still paying the premiums?

GW     Well this is a – the first case you mentioned Chris is an interesting one because the insurer actually didn’t knock back the claim.  What happened in the case is the lady had left her employer a couple of years earlier.  The employer had been paying superannuation to her – the account remains open – the premiums are paid and she then has an unfortunate injury and she makes a claim on the insurance that she’s always had under that policy.  It seems that there was – and sorry – and the insurer agrees to pay – and the insurer actually sends the money to the trustee and the trustee says – oh hang on – there might be a technicality here – she may be under the …….

CS       So hang on – hang on – the actually insurer had paid the money to the super fund?

GW     Yeah right – to the trustee.

CS       Right – okay.

GW     And the trustee sent the money back saying there’s a technicality here – she might be under the necessary threshold of you know her account to be entitled – to be entitled to insurance even though she’s paying the premiums.  Now, eventually there was litigation taken I think in relation to that was resolved – so I’m assuming that …….

CS       The woman got most of it……

GW     Well – hopefully she got it all – but we don’t know those circumstances.  What it says is that you’ve got to be very careful about your superannuation and your insurance funds – a lot of people of course will not read all the product disclosure statements……

CS       No – because it’s too confusing – it’s long winded

GW     It is incredibly difficult – but this is what these – this can happen under the – somebody’s policies.  What I certainly hope the Commission is going to do is make things a lot easier for people to understand when you might lose your insurance rights – even though – as you say –  that still premiums are being paid…..

CS       And what about the bloke who’d been stabbed multiple times – was suffering from PTSD as a result – his claim for a TPD payout was knocked back because the 71 day grace period had ended before his diagnosis. Explain to me the grace period there.  I bet he didn’t know there was a grace period?

GW     Well, I’m sure he didn’t – but again it’s probably in one of those product disclosure statements you get and that………

CS       Page 63 – paragraph 16

GW     That’s right.  It’s with all insurance policies.  We don’t know enough about this case to know whether the member took it to Court or what happened at the end of the day… Certainly if there is a technicality, it may prevent you from getting your payouts.

CS       .But commonsense tells you that someone stabbed multiple times, is obviously going to suffer from PTSD – he’s not trying to con anyone?

GW     No.

CS       And a bit of discretion is probably in order.

GW     Yes – and I think that’s probably what happened in that first case – may have happened in the second case – we just don’t know about it- I mean these cases came to light when Rest was before the Banking Royal Commission and they acknowledged that that first case had been resolved and hopefully the second case has been resolved too.

CS       Okay.  We’ve got some really good questions for you on various cases that are impact in this area – We’ll get to Gaius Whiffin and your calls straight after a quick break.  The numbers 131 873.

CS       Okay – super – TPD – some of what we’ve discussed is such a disappointment in this area.  Maybe you can snap us with your own experiences.  131 873 – John – go right ahead.  Gaius Whiffin from Turner Freeman is listening.

Caller 1 – John

John   Yeah – G’day Gaius.

GW     G’day

John   Look I’ve got superannuation and in that package is included my life insurance and TPD.  I’ve had it for a number of years and been paying the premiums.  It’s just come to my attention through a family line that I potentially might have Huntington’s Disease.  This is something that I don’t know if I have  there’s a 50/50 change that I do and you need to have a genetic test to see if you’ve got it or not and the question is – am I – If I have the disease, if it comes back positive, am I obliged to report my insurer or not?

GW     Is it something that is likely to lead to total and permanent disability in itself?

John   Potentially.  Yes.

GW     Potentially yes?- well you…….

John   Like within 15 to 20 years at a worst case – you need permanent care.

GW     Yeah – you do need to make a disclosure.

John   Even if I was completely unaware of it or…….

GW     Well you see, you’re not unaware of it now…. I mean there’s an issue as to how that may or may not affect the policies and so forth because at the end of day, specifically the life insurance policy, because at the end of the day you’ve probably taken out that policy and the actual wording of the policy will determine the degree to which you need to disclose but unless you’re actually going to sort of look into all those policies and get some legal advice, then my general advice is to disclose because otherwise you can find yourself in a lot of difficulty expecting something in the future which you are not going to get.  I mean, it might not be a bad idea if you actually have a look at the policies and you know – as I said perhaps get some advice in relation to whether you do have to disclose under that particular policy.

John   Right.  Can you recommend someone?

GW     Um…….. I can

CS       There’s a place called Turner Freeman that specialises in this area – so I can give you a number John and I may as well give the number now because other people may wish to get hold of it – 13 43 63.  13 43 63 –  Thank you very much for your call.  Steve in Picton – go ahead – Gaius is listening.

Caller 2 –         Steve

Steve               Yeah – how are you?

CS       G’day

GW     G’day

Steve               I’ve been a member of one of the largest superannuation organisations for a long time – and as far back as 2007, I was complaining about the $500.00 a year they were charging me in fees.  Anyway it turns out because of the Banking Royal Commission they refunded about $19 million dollars to some customers – I then rang up earlier this year and asked them was I entitled to any refund on my fees?  And I was informed that if I had of asked them, I would have had to have paid less than 50% of my normal – say around $5,000.00 a year – I would have probably got it for less than $2,500.00 a year.  So I put it in writing to them to try and get some sort of refund because they’d never informed me but they refused it.  Is there anything I can do about that?

GW     Well in terms of the fees, it’s not something which – again it depends upon the various policies and the documents – I mean – the way to approach it is probably to actually make a complaint to the Superannuation Complaints bodies just to see – or an enquiry in relation to the fees – especially if there’s been other people in similar situations to yours which have had fees refunded – I mean they have to obviously charge fees in accordance with the policy – if they haven’t been – and that’s what’s you know coming out more and more and more of course as we hear it, if there haven’t been – then they have to refund them – if they don’t refund them – then it’s a breach of contract on their part.

Steve   Yes – just quickly Gaius.  There was just – I was complaining about the fees for a long time but no-one ever told me that if I didn’t seek financial advice, which I usually didn’t – but if I didn’t seek that financial advice from them – the fees could have been halved – and just that you mentioned – see one of those outside Ombudsmen or stuff like that – they’re financed by the superannuation authorities – Isn’t that like asking the fox who’s looking after the hen house to investigate?

GW     Well no – there are some independent bodies.  There are independent bodies set up and are not financed by the superannuation bodies.  But at the end of the day there is also – I mean that’s an investigation – there’s also – if you have actually been charged fees when you shouldn’t have been charged fees, then that’s a matter of a debt that they owe you under the contract.

CS       Yeah exactly.

GW     And that can be enforced.  And that can be enforced in a Court.

Steve   …………………. a financial Ombudsman.  So is that the place to start or if – you were talking about some other body?

GW     Yes – Superannuation Complaints – Superannuation Complaints – if you sort of Google that – you will come up with the right body probably to talk to them.

CS       You’ve got that $100 Westfield voucher too Steve.

Steve   Oh – okay.

CS       That will make your day?

Steve   Yeah.  Helps me with some of the fees ……..

CS       It’s better than the……. you know…….smack in the face with a bit of wet lettuce or an old fish.  Thank you Steve – stay there – thank you – Steven – go right ahead.

Caller 2 –         Steven

Steven             Oh yeah  G’day Chris.  What I was ringing about is my brother received a TPD payout from his superannuation company and that was about 12 months ago.  He has had multiple surgeries and stuff and he wants to go back into doing some sort of work whether it be like an online – something from home – but he’s not sure as to whether or not he can go back to work because he received his TPD payout.

CS       Yeah – this is a good question too Gaius.

GW     Yes – that’s okay – because at the end of day, the work that he’s doing – most of the time what you get is a superannuation payout because you fit the description in the Deed and the Deed often says that you are unfit to do your old job or any other work that you were at that time to be suitably qualified for  so generally you are in the situation where what you are doing is retraining and getting yourself back to some light work – you know just to make ends meet and to make sure that you are employed – but it’s in a different career – then yeah – there won’t be any issues there.

CS       Good on you Steven.  Thank you very much for your call – appreciate that – sorry to the callers I couldn’t get to this afternoon.  Gaius Whiffin once again on the ball and hitting some of those current cases which are very very hard to believe – but anyway – thank you very much.

GW     Thanks Chris.

CS       All right – from Turner Freeman Lawyers – – the number 13 43 63 – 13 43 63.


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