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SIRA plans new rules for state insurance participants

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Insurers involved with the NSW workers’ compensation program and other state-regulated schemes will have to comply with a raft of new licence conditions aimed at improving customers' claims experience.

The State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) announced the proposals as the reformed workers’ compensation scheme experiences growing criticism over claims-handling and other practices.

“We propose to incorporate clear requirements on insurers to ensure they deliver customer services that meet community expectations,” the regulator says.

“These enhanced licence conditions will also strengthen regulatory tools to hold them accountable for their behaviour towards customers in the systems regulated by SIRA.”

SIRA is seeking public and stakeholder feedback to the suggestions, which include a requirement for insurers to complete regular statements on how they have performed against the “customer service conduct principles” described in the discussion paper.

Insurers must also undergo regular independent measurement of their performance and publish the results.

“SIRA acknowledges that insurers within these schemes already have licence conditions regarding their conduct and interactions with customers,” the consultation paper says.

While it acknowledges that many insurers already undertake continuous customer improvement programs, “we propose to incorporate clear requirements on insurers to ensure they deliver customer services that meet community expectations”.

Insurers participating in the schemes for compulsory third party and home building compensation claims will also have to comply with the proposed licence requirements.

“Customer expectations have been transformed by digital technology, easy online channels and informed by interactions with other industries,” the paper says.

“SIRA is therefore highlighting customer service expectations through these conduct principles and licensing provisions to meet customer expectations and safeguard the experience of scheme participants.”

The five-point customer service conduct principles are:

• Be efficient and easy to engage

• Act fairly, with empathy and respect

• Resolve customer concerns quickly, respect customers’ time and be proactive

• Have systems in place to identify and address customer concerns

• Be accountable for actions and honest in interactions with customers.

Submissions on the principles must be received by August 19.

For more information, click here.