ICA proposes key updates to strengthen General Insurance Code

Submission targets financial hardship measures, customer vulnerability, and claims processes

ICA proposes key updates to strengthen General Insurance Code

Insurance News

By Roxanne Libatique

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has backed an initiative to strengthen the General Insurance Code of Practice, highlighting potential improvements in financial hardship measures, customer vulnerability, and claims processes.

The ICA’s recommendations are detailed in its submission to the Independent Code Review Panel, which is conducting its triennial review of the code.

Since its inception in 1994, the code has outlined the standards general insurers must follow in service delivery, including timelines for handling claims, complaints, and information requests.

ICA’s proposed changes to the General Insurance Code of Practice

Reflecting feedback from its members, who underwrite about 90% of general insurance in Australia, the ICA’s proposed changes include:

  • strengthened provisions for financial hardship, such as options for premium relief;
  • expanded definitions of vulnerability to better encompass LGBT individuals and recognise financial abuse and trauma;
  • enhanced methods for identifying individuals most at risk of financial abuse and trauma, especially after severe weather events;
  • extended timeframes for reviewing claim decisions, particularly those arising from catastrophic weather events; and
  • more meaningful updates on claim progress provided to customers.

The general insurance watchdog has suggested delaying any changes to the code until the completion of several significant ongoing reviews and inquiries.

The submission supports a principles-based code, allowing insurers flexibility in offering tailored support to customers’ specific needs and circumstances.

Importance of improving the General Insurance Code of Practice in Australia

Commenting on the ICA’s submission, CEO Andrew Hall highlighted the importance of the General Insurance Code of Practice and the amendments’ effect.

“The General Insurance Code of Practice is a vitally important document for our industry and its customers, providing guidance and setting expectations for insurers and policyholders alike,” he said. “The Insurance Council’s submission to the Independent Review Panel, which has been drafted in consultation with our members, proposes sensible and workable solutions for strengthening the code while maintaining its operational efficiency and effectiveness.

“We believe these proposals would see the code continue to prioritise customer protections while remaining responsive to our changing regulatory landscape and operating environment, which is still providing some of the most challenging circumstances for insurers and their customers ever seen.”

The ICA also recently welcomed budget enhancements for disaster preparedness, with the additional funding in the 2024-25 Budget being allocated to the National Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Social Services.

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