Funeral insurers in spotlight again

Greg Roberts

Ruthless financial companies are targeting Aboriginal people with useless insurance, dud cars and high-interest loans, the banking royal commission has heard.

Indigenous woman Tracey Walsh broken down in tears at a hearing in Darwin on Tuesday, explaining how she was signed up to an expensive funeral plan at age 40 by insurer Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund, which she says misled her.

ACBF chief executive Bryn Jones defended the company at the hearing, saying it did a lot of good in the community providing funeral services which carried great significance in indigenous culture and that people might not be able to afford otherwise.

A second company that sells funeral insurance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people Select AFSL will be examined on Wednesday.

Northern Territorian Kathy Marika, a Yolngu woman from Arnhem Land will talk about being sold policies that she did not understand and could not afford.

ANZ executive Tony Tapsall will be questioned this week over the bank's conduct in remote communities including providing overdraft facilities and charging fees.

The hearing heard on Tuesday how a wealth management company signed Aboriginal people in remote communities up to life insurance without their consent.

Clear View Life Assurance, exploited language and cultural barriers when its sales people signed up indigenous customers in remote communities without their consent, the commission heard.

Indigenous Australians tended culturally towards "gratuitous concurrence" - politely saying "yes" when they don't understand - which added to the problem, Australian Securities and Investments Commission analyst and Aboriginal man Nathan Boyle said.

"We've seen consumers that said the telephone representative would ask them, 'Can you provide us with your bank details?" Mr Boyle said

"And they provided the details and ended up being signed up to policies they never intended being signed up for."