Superannuation funds will pay millions of dollars in compensation to thousands wrongly classified as smokers.
Superannuation funds will pay millions of dollars in compensation to thousands wrongly classified as smokers.

Super fund rip-off: How to get money you’re owed

THOUSANDS of ripped-off Australians will pocket compensation after superannuation funds wrongly classified them as smokers and charged higher fees for life insurance.

More than 5000 super members will share $3.6 million in compensation after action by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

ASIC today exposed nine super funds which had automatically classified life insurance clients as smokers, even though only 14 per cent of Australians smoke.

But one of the biggest funds, AMP Superannuation, has refused to provide refunds to 3506 members charged higher "smoker rates'' for life insurance, ASIC revealed.

Superannuation funds have been caught ripping of Australians by wrongly classifying them as smokers. Picture: iStock
Superannuation funds have been caught ripping of Australians by wrongly classifying them as smokers. Picture: iStock

"AMP has always communicated to members their option to change the terms of their insurance arrangements into non-smoker status,'' a spokesman said today.

"We found no breaches or need to remediate.

"We are working hard to help members understand their insurance arrangements and the options available to them.''

ASIC said Suncorp was still deciding whether to compensate 1573 members in its Suncorp Master Trust.

It said IOOF will not provide refunds to 146,000 members of its OnePath MasterFund or 350 members of its IOOF Portfolio Services Superannuation Fund.

CFS would provide partial refunds totalling $2.97 million to 3894 members of its Colonial FirstChoice Superannuation Trust.

Netwealth had agreed to pay 1046 members of its Superannuation Master Fund a total of $598,365.

Equity Trustees would pay 65 members of AMG Super a total of $34,507 while 36 members of Intrust Super would pocket a total of $29,316.

ASIC Commissioner Danielle Press said that smokers generally pay "substantially higher'' premiums than nonsmokers, for life insurance.

"Given the low prevalence of smoking among Australian adults, classifying members as 'smokers' for insurance offered through superannuation, unless the member takes active steps to confirm non-smoking status, is contrary to community expectations,'' she said.

"Many Australians may not realise that default classifications can impact the price of their cover and therefore, reduce their retirement benefits.

"In light of the low smoking rate, merely providing disclosure and putting the onus on members to act is not enough to support good member outcomes.''

Ms Press urged members to contact their super fund if they think they have been inappropriately classified as "smokers'', and lodge any complaints with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.

The Courier-Mail has sought comment from Suncorp and IOOF.

Originally published as Super fund rip-off: How to get money you're owed


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