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Industry swings into action for family violence provision

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Suncorp and Hollard have put in place mandatory measures to support customers affected by family violence, ahead of the July 1 deadline set for signatories to the new General Insurance Code of Practice.

While the new code’s overall implementation date has been put back six months to July next year because of coronavirus disruption, there was no change to the start date for the family violence provision, and many code enhancements aimed at helping vulnerable customers were also brought forward to July 1.

Suncorp Executive Manager Annabelle Butler told insuranceNEWS.com.au the insurer has adopted a number of the initiatives called for by the code for some time already.

“The 2020 Code includes new sections on vulnerable customers and financial hardship, ensuring that we have processes to assist them if vulnerability means that they might find interacting with us more difficult, or if they’re experiencing hardship,” she said.

“These changes are not a short-term solution for Suncorp or our customers. They are now embedded in our policies and procedures to ensure we are supporting our customers when they need it the most, and that our processes are flexible enough to provide tailored support to those who are most vulnerable.”

As part of the code’s requirements, signatories must have a publicly available policy about how they will support customers affected by family violence and it must be made available online.

Suncorp's policy can be viewed here.

On the Hollard website, the domestic family violence policy page has embedded a weather link as a safety measure for at-risk customers. Clicking on the prominent exit button will immediately take them to the Bureau of Meteorology website, but it will not change the browsing history.

“Our priority is always the safety of the person affected by family violence and the protection of their family,” a Hollard spokesman told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

“Ideally we strive to recognise family violence early and we do so through ensuring our employees and distributors are trained, not only in our family violence procedures but also so they can identify and deal appropriately and sensitively with customers affected by family violence and refer those in need to specialist support services.”

QBE and IAG say they will publish their family violence policies next week.

IAG says its policy will acknowledge the insurer has a role to play in minimising the risk of harm to customers affected by family and domestic violence.

“The policy, which is being published on 1 July, outlines the ways IAG employees can assist customers that may be experiencing family and domestic violence,” the spokesman told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

“A key focus for IAG and the industry is to ensure the enhanced [code] will strengthen the support provided by the industry to vulnerable customers.

“This means ensuring measures are put in place to support customers experiencing vulnerability and financial hardship, and importantly customers affected by family violence.

“These new measures highlight the critical role the insurance industry must play in understanding and supporting its customers and the wider community on the issues that affect them.”

Insurance Council of Australia spokesman Campbell Fuller says the body does not have a role in monitoring compliance but believes code subscribers are aware of the July 1 deadline.

“The Insurance Council is pleased these policies will help many customers who are experiencing family violence,” he said.