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Insurers assessed on family violence policies

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Assetinsure has introduced the strongest family violence policy under requirements in the latest iteration of the General Insurance Code of Practice, but a number of firms need to make improvements, a Financial Rights Legal Centre (FRLC) desktop audit has found.

The audit examined the family violence policies of 47 code subscribers and assessed the level to which they met 11 key areas identified in Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) guidance.

Assetinsure was the only subscriber to score a perfect 11 points, with the policy found to have definitive language and specific measures that detail how it will help those subject to family violence.

Other top-rated subscribers were Tokio Marine, which scored 10 and Youi, which achieved 9.5, while Aioi Nissay Dowa, Great Lakes and Munich Re scored 9.

A little over half the subscribers scored 5.5 or less, while ten scored 3 or less. Mitsui Sumitomo, Hallmark, QBE Insurance (Australia) and QBE Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance scored 2 out of 11.

“We hope this research can highlight to all general insurers where they can improve and can learn from each other’s policies to better serve family violence victims,” FRLC CEO Karen Cox said.

“We are keen to ensure that providing strong protections for victims of family violence is not an area of competitive tension between insurers and that this research can be the rising tide that helps lift all the ships of the industry to higher standards.”

The latest Code of Practice overhaul required subscribers to have family violence policies available online for customers by July 1 last year. The new part of the code came into effect ahead of the introduction of the overall document, which was delayed to the middle of this year due to COVID-19.

ICA’s guidance includes making sure safety is paramount for anyone affected by family violence, early recognition of violence, employee training, protecting confidential information, minimising the number of times a person needs to disclose information, ensuring appropriate and sensitive claims handling processes and collection arrangements, and arranging access to financial hardship help.

Other recommendations include informing customers, employees, distributors and service suppliers about information and assistance available to people experiencing violence.

FRLC Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer Drew MacRae says insurers, having met the code requirement, should continue to make improvements and ensure having family violence policies doesn’t become a tick-the-box exercise.

“We want to have a positive and constructive approach in order to lift those standards,” he told insuranceNEWS.com.au. “It is an important work in progress and not something to be forgotten.”

ICA says the industry is proud of the new code and its obligation to have a policy to support customers experiencing family violence, which sits within a broader new range of measures supporting customers experiencing vulnerability.

“Policies will continue to evolve with time, research and learnings from implementation,” a spokeswoman told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

“We welcome FRLC’s intent to assist general insurers to learn from and build upon each other’s approaches in a positive and constructive manner for the benefit of victims of family violence.”