The NRMA discriminated against a convicted sex offender by refusing to provide him with public liability insurance for his gardening business, a tribunal has ruled.
The man, who has not been identified in the decision, was convicted and in June last year sentenced to three years' good behaviour.
He wanted to continue his gardening business but when he applied to the NRMA form public liability insurance, with which he has several other policies, it rejected his application.
The man represented himself at the hearing in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal, alleging he was discriminated against on the basis of an irrelevant criminal record, a protected attribute under discrimination laws.
The insurance he applied for covered personal injury and property damage to third parties and expressly excluded indemnity from particular circumstances, including child molestation.
But NRMA denied insurance on the basis of internal policies, particularly a documents called the "Moral Code and the IAG Moral Risk Underwriting guidelines."
The tribunal noted: "Internal policies cannot override or circumvent legislative obligations. In implementing those internal policies, the NRMA has failed to adhere to the requirements of the Discrimination Act."
But the NRMA argued the criminal record is relevant because they have determined that a person with a conviction for a serious criminal offence lacks judgement, and therefore constitutes a greater insurance risk than a person who does not have a conviction for a serious criminal offence. It said that the refusal of insurance was based on an "underwriting assessment of the risk and that people with serious criminal convictions were perceived as constituting a so great a risk that they could not be insured".
That is, there was clear and direct relevance between the nature of an offence against another person and the nature of risks insured under a commercial liability policy.
"This is particularly so for an occupation, such as a gardening business with a business is conducted in and around the homes of third parties, and in public places," the NRMA argued.
But the tribunal said the insurer had confused the risk arising from the fact of a serious criminal conviction and the risk of harm to a child by sexual assault.
"Given the exclusion to the policy of liability for molestation of minors, the nature and circumstances of the offence are not directly relevant to the decision to refuse insurance," it said.
"Accordingly, the Tribunal is satisfied on the evidence before it that the respondent has refused the service of insurance to the complainant on the basis of a moral assessment, guided by the Moral Guidelines, and not on the basis of any relevant actuarial considerations."
The case will return to the tribunal in July for submissions on remedy.