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Fels yet to respond to ICA complaint

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NSW Emergency Services Levy Insurance Monitor Allan Fels says he has not seen the official complaint made against him by the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA).

insuranceNEWS.com.au reported last week that ICA has written to NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet to protest against Professor Fels’ latest demand for data.

ICA accuses him of stepping outside his remit and failing to listen to industry concerns.

“The monitor won’t be commenting without actually seeing a complaint,” a spokeswoman for Professor Fels told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

Professor Fels was engaged by the NSW Government to monitor insurance pricing after the removal of the emergency services levy on policies – something that never happened following a last-minute deferral.

Despite the reform’s delay, he has remained in the post. Relations with insurers have soured after he used data to attack them on a range of issues, most recently a so-called “loyalty tax”.

Now he has widened his demand for data from insurers, drawing an official complaint from ICA.

A previous order issued by Professor Fels focused only on home and contents policies, but a new order requires additional comparative pricing data for motor and commercial policies, plus disclosure of fees to intermediaries. He has given insurers eight months to comply.

In a letter seen by insuranceNEWS.com.au, ICA calls on Mr Perrottet to force Professor Fels to withdraw the demand.

“The Insurance Council is concerned that in issuing the order, the monitor has acted outside his powers,” the letter says. “Further, the order has been issued without following the appropriate consultation process and without due regard for the impact such requirements would have on the insurance industry.”

ICA argues that while Professor Fels has the right to demand data from insurers, it has to be relevant to his role as insurance monitor.

“The information the monitor can require insurance companies to provide is limited to information about emergency services levy reform,” the letter says.

“[The legislation under which Professor Fels operates] does not provide the monitor with unlimited power to issue a notice to require an insurer to provide any information he specifies.

“As the emergency services levy reform has been indefinitely deferred, the Insurance Council considers that the monitor has no basis… to require insurers to provide comparative pricing information.”

ICA says the industry was not properly consulted about the new order, and Professor Fels did not act on any of its concerns.

“The Insurance Council requests that the minister issue a general direction in writing to the monitor that the monitor withdraw the order.”