The Insurance Council of Australia creates standards for all general insurance providers. In 2020, they updated the General Insurance Code of Practice.
There were a number of changes in the 2020 General Insurance Code of Practice, with a large proportion concerning consumer protections. Insurance providers are required to provide greater accessibility and information to their consumers.
As Australia’s largest multi-disciplinary Third Party Claims Administrator, Gallagher Bassett (GB) recognises the critical requirement for all claims professionals to adhere to the standards imposed by the General Insurance Code of Practice.
What Is the General Insurance Code of Practice?
The General Insurance Code of Practice is a set of standards which ensures all members follow the highest standards of service. It helps to promote better, more informed relations between members and customers, promoting greater trust in the general insurance industry.
GB is well advanced in the provision of focused training programs concerning the significant family violence policy provisions to take effect on 1 July 2020 and the wider new General Insurance Code of Practice provisions in advance of the general effective date of 1 July 2021.
Damien Gilhooley, General Manager - Integrated Claims Solutions, said:
“As a significant service provider to many Code Subscribers, GB has tailored and enhanced our Learning and Development programs and customer service focus to align with the General Insurance Code of Practice requirements.”
“Policies and processes have been refined and created to ensure that our claims professionals prioritise, support and are sensitive to affected customers. The adoption and implementation of necessary support processes for customers experiencing mental health issues, those subject to family violence situations and/or those undergoing financial hardship have been embedded and restated as key components within our claims and service policies, processes and values.”
The Insurance Council wants to ensure these guidelines are accessible and fair to all insurance customers. With that in mind, they added new provisions for vulnerable customers.
There are also new enhanced financial hardship provisions and increased powers to impose sanctions on companies who don't follow these guidelines.
The Insurance Council increased protection for consumers' right to know and made sure the investigation process works for customers.
One of the big changes in the General Insurance Code of Practice is it’s accessibility to consumers. In the past, the General Insurance Code of Practice has been filled with legalese that was difficult to understand.
With the latest revisions, the General Insurance Code of Practice is easier to comprehend. It encourages consumers to a develop a deeper understanding of their rights and in turn, more appropriately interacts with their service provider.
Provisions for Vulnerable Customers
The 2020 update provides greater support to vulnerable customers. These vulnerabilities include age, disability, mental or physical health conditions, family violence, language barriers, and many other circumstances. People with certain cultural backgrounds, living in rural areas or experiencing financial distress may fall in this category, too.
Damien Gilhooley, General Manager - Integrated Claims Solutions, remarked:
“Service providers want to make sure all consumers have all the access and support they need. The 2020 General Insurance Code of Practice provides new regulations on how to provide that support.”
“General insurance providers must provide training on how to help these vulnerable members of our community. They are implementing more support measures, including using interpreters. They also make sure people with mental health conditions are treated fairly.”
Enhanced Financial Hardship Provisions
Often, people who file a general insurance claim are facing financial hardship. The General Insurance Code of Practice is designed to make sure providers are making provisions for those who are experiencing financial hardship.
The Code increases training claims professionals to identify those experiencing financial hardship. It teaches new ways to assess a request for financial hardship support. Members must notify customers when a decision about their request has been made. This ensures that those who are entitled to financial hardship receive the full support they require.
Power to Impose a Sanction
If a member does not follow the new General Insurance Code of Practice, the committee can impose sanctions. This ensures that all these new rules and regulations are followed.
The updated Code makes that sanctioning process easier when it is warranted. It extends beyond the Code of Governance committee’s power to impose these sanctions when appropriate. It also streamlines the process to make sure everything keeps moving.
An insurer found to have a significant breach of the Code may have to pay up to $100,000 in community benefits.
Consumers are entitled to information about their policies and claims. They have to know what is happening to make sure their rights are being honoured. The 2020 General Insurance Code of Practice increases regulations for companies on providing information to consumers.
Consumers have to be provided with information about cash settlements for their claims. They also have to get information about the scope of works so they can be better informed. This information must be free of charge and provided within thirty calendar days.
Mandatory Claims Investigation Standards
Companies will have to make sure their review process is under thirty days.
They have to notify you of the outcome of the investigation and update you on the process as requested. The new General Insurance Code of Practice also updates how an investigation interview should be conducted.
Learn More About the New General Insurance Code of Practice
The new General Insurance Code of Practice helps to ensure consumers are better protected and their relationship with providers. It upholds the highest standards of practice for the general insurance industry and it makes sure that everyone, no matter their situation, has access to the claims they’re entitled to.
Reach out to the GB team if you would like to discuss how these updates will enhance customer service outcomes.
GB works closely with insurers, brokers, underwriters and corporations to ensure that all of their claims services fully comply with the General Insurance Code of Practice. Check out our general insurance offerings to find out more today.