The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has announced that an independent review of the 2020 General Insurance Code of Practice will be undertaken by a three-person panel with backgrounds in consumer advocacy, financial regulation and the insurance industry.
The review will be conducted by former APRA Deputy Chair Helen Rowell (panel chair), consumer expert Gerard Brody, and industry expert Paul Muir.
The terms of reference set out the review’s “overarching principle” of maintaining and enhancing consumer protections, along with Code modernisation, enhancement of customer experience, accessibility, effectiveness and efficiency, and providing customer value.
The review will be conducted in two phases to align with any recommendations from the federal parliamentary inquiry into insurers’ responses to the 2022 floods.
Phase one will focus on general topics that are not directly related to the floods, such as support for vulnerable customers and the interaction between the Code and existing laws, and governance, with initial findings and recommendations to be delivered by 30 June 2024.
The second phase will focus on flood-related topics, such as the responses required when a catastrophe occurs, and will deliver findings by 30 June 2025.
The panel will also consider a key recommendation from Deloitte’s review of the insurance industry’s response to the 2022 floods, commissioned by the ICA and released last month, that the ‘extraordinary catastrophe’ definition in the General Insurance Code of Practice be reworked.
The review panel will consult key stakeholders, including the general insurance industry, ASIC, APRA, AFCA, the Code Governance Committee, and consumer representatives.
“The ICA and insurers look forward to working with the review panel to ensure that our industry Code remains relevant and effective in supporting and protecting customers,” said Andrew Hall, CEO of the Insurance Council of Australia.
“Each of the three-person panel brings considerable experience and has been appointed in recognition of the diversity of skills and background needed to inform an independent review, and I want to thank them in advance for their willingness to undertake this important task.
“I know the panel will conduct a comprehensive and robust review of the Code, and that their findings and recommendations will help make the Code even more effective in supporting and protecting consumers.”
The Code sets out the minimum standards of service and conduct that general insurers are required to meet in their dealings with customers and must be independently reviewed every three years.