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Consumer group raises pressure over unfair contract terms

The Consumer Action Law Centre is stepping up its campaign for unfair contract term provisions to be extended to insurance, ahead of expected consultations on possible changes this year.

The Federal Government has referred the issue to Treasury for review and, in a response to the Senate inquiry into general insurance in December, says it anticipates releasing proposals early this year.

Law centre Senior Policy Officer Susan Quinn says changes may be introduced through either the Insurance Contracts Act or the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act.

“As long as the scheme, wherever it sits, is effective and largely mirrors what we have for every other consumer contract, we are going to get a good result from it,” Ms Quinn told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

“We know it is a priority and the Government wants it to happen.”

The law centre last week released a report providing case studies on rejected claims.

“Every other industry must ensure their terms and conditions protect legitimate business interests only and that their own customers can understand the contracts,” law centre CEO Gerard Brody said.

“There’s no reason insurers should get special treatment.”

The Insurance Council of Australia opposes inclusion of unfair contract terms in insurance contracts, but says it is assessing the issues.

“Over the past year ICA and its members have been discussing with stakeholders, including consumer advocates, how unfair contract terms protections could be applied to general insurance contracts,” spokesman Campbell Fuller said. “It is important consumer outcomes are improved without undermining the risk management that underlies policies.”

See ANALYSIS.

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