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20 June 2013
The National Insurance Brokers Association (NIBA) has rejected calls to name General Insurance Code of Practice participants under investigation for breaches or non-compliance.
The move would be “unfair on those who are later found not to have breached or failed to comply”, it says.
But in its response to the code’s review issues paper, NIBA agrees monitoring and investigation standards should be better promoted to increase compliance.
It also backs calls for the Code Compliance Committee (CCC), rather than the Financial Ombudsman Service, to report to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission on serious misconduct and systemic breaches.
“NIBA also queries whether the CCC should play a role in reviewing unresolved systemic matters,” the submission says.
It says the “practicalities” of applying the code to all insurers that operate in Australia will be “complex” because the code is owned by the Insurance Council of Australia – but it has no objection to the matter being considered.
On extending the code to all insurance industry participants with an Australian financial services licence, NIBA says it understands this is not intended to cover brokers when they act as agents for insurers. Any such move would “increase complexity and cause agents to incur unnecessary additional costs”.
It says NIBA members acting for insurers are covered by the recently revamped NIBA code.
“NIBA queries if there have been any circumstances that have arisen where the acts of the insurer’s agent have left the client disadvantaged because the agent was not a member of the [general insurance] code,” its submission says.
The association backs applying the code to claims service providers because “it is in this process that consumers are expecting delivery on the insurer’s promise”.
On the issue of stronger training and education standards, NIBA questions whether it is current standards or their implementation that are insufficient.
“Consideration should be given to whether changes to the standards will fix the issue or other steps such as increased audit activity [are needed] to ensure the standards are being met.”
On the possible development of a model for scaled advice, for general insurance and phone sales in particular, NIBA has “significant concerns”.
It says in limited cases an insurer may reasonably provide scaled advice – for example, when an insured asks for personal advice on a particular aspect of an existing policy.
But it says significant issues arise when an insurer approaches a consumer to provide personal advice when there is no existing policy, such as conflicts of interest and the potential for insurer liability on advice given.
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