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Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance
Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance

Complaints handling: brokers urged to do better

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Brokers are taking too long to manage client disputes, their independent Code Compliance Committee says today in a report examining the internal complaint handling process.

Of the 1049 complaints received last year, only 63% were resolved within 21 days and another 12% took more than 45 days to settle.

The code requires subscribing brokers to immediately acknowledge receipt of disputes and to work out a solution within 21 days. They have another 21 days to resolve it if clients are not satisfied with the initial offer made.

“Clearly, there is room for improvement in the way that code subscribers manage timeframes for handling complaints,” the report says.

“An improvement in the timely resolution of disputes will benefit subscribers and their clients and aid the achievement of the code’s objectives.”

The committee’s “own motion inquiry report” released today builds on last year’s review on whether brokers are addressing disputes with clients effectively.

The latest findings indicate brokers have fallen short of expectations, the report says.

More than a quarter fail to record complaints, a statistic the report has described as “most disappointing”. While large brokerages record detailed data for 63% of all disputes, the best of any group, that still falls short of what one expects from good industry practice.

The report cautions brokers against complacency even if the Hayne royal commission found no severe misconduct issues affecting brokers.

“The hearings [of the royal commission] added intensity to what was already serious scrutiny of the financial services sector,” the report says.

“Insurance brokers should not take comfort from the fact that they were clearly not the biggest target of the commission’s attention. All financial services organisations are on notice of significant community dissatisfaction. All have much to learn and change urgently.”

The National Insurance Brokers Association (NIBA), which operates the code, has welcomed the report’s findings and suggestions for improvements.

“Clearly these matters need to be addressed and resolved as quickly as possible,” CEO Dallas Booth told insuranceNEWS.com.au today.

“NIBA is committed to high standards of professionalism.”