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Minister piles on the pressure for unfair contract terms review

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The extension of unfair contract term provisions to insurance should be considered because many outside the sector do not accept adequate protections exist, Revenue and Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer says.

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has argued insurance is covered by the duty of utmost good faith and other measures.

Ms O’Dwyer says the Australian Consumer Law Review suggested extending protections to insurance will address inconsistencies, and the change could bring Australia in line with approaches in the UK and New Zealand.

“I know many of you… have consistently advocated that there is no need to extend the unfair contract term provisions to insurance contracts,” she told insurers at ICA’s annual forum in Sydney. “Yet many outside the industry disagree.”

She says the Government will soon release a proposal to consider extending unfair contract term protections to insurance.

Ms O’Dwyer praised ICA’s work to improve interactions with vulnerable customers, including those experiencing family violence. Guidelines will be considered as part of the Code of Practice review, while a working group will provide advice.

“Situations involving family violence require sensitivity and flexibility,” she said.

“The issues are complex and acknowledging and dealing with them is uncharted territory, not only for the insurance industry but across most industries.”