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icare advocate turns focus on to building scheme

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NSW state insurer icare says its Independent Customer Advocate Darren Wright has turned his attention to the state’s home building compensation scheme in an expanded role, and wants to hear from brokers about their experiences.

The Home Building Compensation Fund (HBCF) scheme helps property owners in NSW recover money for faulty or unfinished work if their builder can’t be pursued.

Mr Wright was originally appointed to the advocate role by icare in October to review its workers’ compensation scheme. He will now investigate customer experiences with building compensation, and his role within icare is expected to expand further.

His new assignment comes as the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal considers changes to the HBCF scheme, including considering expanding the home building insurance market to private insurers. Nine submissions were made by Monday’s closing deadline and a draft report will be released in September, with final recommendations in November.

“I’ll be reaching out to builders, brokers and home owners who have purchased insurance or made a claim to learn more about how their feedback can enhance existing processes and improve the experience that they have when engaging with icare,” Mr Wright said today.

The review will be published by the end of September and act as an internal icare guide to improve services.

The HBCF applies to residential building work projects over $20,000 (including GST), such as new houses and multi-units up to three storeys in height, as well as home renovations and swimming pool construction. It compensates homeowners up to $340,000 when they are unable to obtain redress from the builder.

Private insurers abandoned the HBCF market in the 2000s when it became unsustainable and it is now provided solely by icare. The scheme is regulated by the State Insurance Regulatory Authority, and allows a court-provided money order in cases where a builder is insolvent, has died or disappeared or had their licence suspended for non-compliance.

icare CEO John Nagle says Mr Wright’s advocacy role has been expanded after insights gained from his first review enabled icare to better address the needs of its workers’ compensation customers.