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Key royal commission document released early

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The Hayne royal commission will consider whether the current regulatory regime for insurance is “adequate to minimise consumer detriment”, documents released today reveal.

The commission has published its “issues arising” statement following the insurance hearings that concluded last week. The document was expected to be published on Friday but has been unveiled two days early.

It highlights policy questions arising from the hearings – tackling disclosure, sales, add-on insurance, claims handling, regulation and compliance.

On regulation, the document asks whether a failure to comply with the General Insurance Code of Practice should constitute a failure to comply with financial services laws, and questions the purpose of infringement notices.

The document asks whether there is “sufficient external oversight” of compliance systems, and whether there should be greater consequences for financial services entities that fail in this area.

It asks whether the current disclosure regime is “adequately serving the interests of consumers”.

“If not, why not, and how should it be changed?”

The document asks whether the standard cover regime is achieving its purpose and whether there is scope for insurers to make greater use of standardised definitions of key terms in insurance contracts.

On sales, the document questions whether “monetary and non-monetary benefits given in relation to general insurance products” should remain exempt from the ban on conflicted remuneration.

It also asks whether there are some financial products that should only be sold with personal advice.

A ban on the sale of add-on insurance by motor dealers should be considered, or alternatively that it should only be sold under a deferred sales model. It asks whether any other types of insurance should only be sold under this model.

The document considers giving the Australian Securities and Investments Commission jurisdiction on claims handling.

It also asks whether the code should be amended in relation to cash settlements to force insurers to act fairly and ensure policyholders are indemnified against the loss insured.

The document asks if there is any reason why unfair contract term protections should not be applied to insurance contracts, and whether 2013 amendments to the Insurance Contracts Act “resulted in an ‘avoidance’ regime that is unfairly weighted in favour of insurers”.

More details in our regular bulletin on Monday.