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Avalanche of reforms set to hit, conference told

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An avalanche of legal and regulatory reforms is expected over the next 12 months, delegates to the Community Broker Network virtual conference heard today.

National Insurance Brokers Association (NIBA) CEO Dallas Booth says the group has provided input during consultations and the next phase will involve examining legislation set to be introduced into Parliament.

“We are waiting to see what is actually in the detail of these bills,” he said during a briefing at the conference.

“With the delay in Parliament because of COVID-19 a lot of the timeframes that were originally indicated by Government will now be put out, but we are not yet clear what some these timeframes will be.”

Laws passed and set to take effect include unfair contract term reforms that will apply from April 5 and product design and distribution rules that will start on October 5 next year.

Legislation around a prohibition on hawking products is still being fine-tuned, with a proposed January 1 start date, but Radford Lawyers Principal Solicitor Mark Radford says there is discussion over pushing that back to April to coincide with proposed new rules for add-on insurance sales.

The add-on laws, sparked by concerns over products sold through car dealers, will apply whenever insurance is sold in conjunction with another “main” product and introduce four-day pauses in the process.

“The complexity is quite tough,” Mr Radford said. “They have basically gone with a scattergun approach.”

Mr Booth says NIBA will be providing clarity to brokers as changes are introduced with each of the reforms and will outline in clear terms the key information they need to know.

NIBA is also preparing for the Government’s review of industry commissions, which is due to start next year, and is finalising research commissioned from Deloitte on the value of brokers in society.

Steadfast CEO Robert Kelly told the conference industry standards have risen over time with changes in laws and regulation and it is critical brokers respond to the Hayne royal commission’s emphasis on the customer.

“That is the actual criteria for how we should operate and how we should go forward,” he said. “If you look back and reflect on Hayne, everything he said was about the consumer.”

Mr Kelly told the conference it is more important than ever that brokers build their skills as trusted advisers and ensure the focus in providing insurance is not just on price.

“The evaluation of the client’s exposure and the placement of the risks is primary, not the price,” he said.

Mr Kelly, asked about education and training in broking, said it is likely minimum standards will rise in future given expertise required and wider trends.

“Whether that stretches to a degree or whether the continuing professional development gets higher and higher, I don’t know,” he said.

Steadfast acquired CBN, Australia’s largest authorised representative group, in 2018. This year’s conference was planned for Alice Springs in August before it was rescheduled as a virtual event due to COVID-19.