ACFA backs Chubb payout denial over driver

Insurer had rejected company argument on ignorance of drug use

ACFA backs Chubb payout denial over driver
The decision was deemed fair under the circumstances


A trucking company whose driver died with a mix of drugs and alcohol in his system has failed in an approach to Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) over a rejected claim.

The federal watchdog’s determination does not name the company, which had made its complaint via a broker against Chubb Insurance Australia.

The claim stemmed from a fatal 2019 prime-mover crash in Western Australia, with policy providing cover of $250,000 for accidental death.

Though Chubb had paid out for the co-driver, who was also killed, it refused to do so for the deceased driver.

The coroner’s finding noted that: "Toxicological analysis showed multiple intoxicating agents in [the driver’s] system, including methylamphetamine and its metabolite amphetamine, buprenorphine (Suboxone), a low level of codeine and morphine and cannabis.

"There was a blood alcohol level of 0.066% and vitreous humour alcohol level of 0.084%. Monoacetylmorphine was detected in vitreous humour, indicating heroin use within the previous 24 hours."

Read how Tasfreight won a drug-test refusal dismissal case, here

WA Police Major Crash Investigation Section had found no faults or defects in the truck or trailers.

"There was no evidence of any obvious braking at the crash scene, which was consistent with [the driver] having fallen asleep whilst driving due to fatigue and the effects of the drugs and alcohol in his system, or having suffered a medical episode that prevented him from controlling the truck and braking," the coroner continued.

"No other likely causal factors were identified in the investigation."

The AFCA noted that policy excluded cover for losses caused by criminal act and, therefore, it was open to Chubb to refuse both claims. However, it paid for the co-driver ‘on a good faith, non-precedent basis’.

Despite the policy exclusion stating that benefits would not be paid if any criminal act committed by "an insured person" was involved, the company had complained that the claim for the driver should have been accepted it "had no knowledge of driver’s personal activities and cannot be held responsible for drivers’ activities whilst on the road".

This was rejected and ACFS ruled that the outcome was "fair under the circumstances".


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