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Competition watchdog investigates Steadfast strata complaint

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New underwriting specialist Strata Community Insurance has complained to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) over Steadfast’s refusal to cross-endorse its authorised representatives.

It is alleging restraint of trade by Steadfast, and the commission has asked Steadfast to respond.

Strata Community started writing business underwritten by Allianz last November.

Steadfast bought strata underwriter CHU and Body Corporate Brokers from QBE in February.

Steadfast MD Robert Kelly told insuranceNEWS.com.au that Strata Community wants his group to cross-endorse its authorised representatives and corporate authorised representatives.

Cross-endorsement would mean the companies share indemnity, and Mr Kelly says Steadfast will not do this for a new business with no track record.

“We have no idea how they will operate their business,” he said. “We don’t know what rigors are behind their underwriting criteria and compliance regime.”

Mr Kelly says brokers can already offer CHU or Strata Community products, so he denies any restriction of trade.

Steadfast may reconsider cross-endorsement in a couple of years, when it has seen Strata Community operate in the market.

Strata Community MD Paul Keating was MD of CHU and Body Corporate Brokers for seven years until leaving QBE in July 2013.

Mr Keating told insuranceNEWS.com.au he does not want to comment while the ACCC has an investigation under way, but the company is performing above expectations and has been welcomed by the market.

Its team has more than 40 years’ experience in strata in Australia, the UK, the US and the Middle East.