Brought to you by:

Flood learnings a key focus for general insurance code review 

An independent review of the general insurance code of practice will be conducted over two phases, with the second to focus on flood-related topics. 

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) says the scheduled review, which started last week, is being conducted by a three-member panel led by former Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) Deputy Chair Helen Rowell. 

The other members are former Consumer Action Law Centre CEO Gerard Brody and Paul Muir, an industry panel member for the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) who has more than 38 years’ experience in the insurance sector. 

“The ICA and insurers look forward to working with the review panel to ensure that our industry code remains relevant and effective in supporting and protecting customers,” CEO Andrew Hall said. 

The code review first phase will focus on topics not directly related to the floods, such as support for vulnerable customers and the interaction between the code and existing laws, and governance, with initial findings and recommendations to be delivered by June 30. 

The second phase will focus on flood-related topics, such as responses required when a catastrophe occurs, with findings due by June 30 2025. 

The Federal Parliament House of Representatives Economics Committee inquiry into last year’s floods is set to report by the end of September, while an ICA commissioned Deloitte report into the issue has already recommended an overhaul of the extraordinary catastrophe declaration in the code of practice. 

The Deloitte report says the option of declaring an extraordinary catastrophe has never been used and it’s unlikely it will be, raising “significant concerns of whether it is fit for purpose”. 

The scope of the review includes support for customers in financial need, especially in the catastrophe context, and issues around vulnerability. 

Regulatory changes since the previous code review have included the introduction of product design and distribution obligations, the inclusion of claims handling as a financial service and the deferred sales model for add-on insurance. 

ICA says the review panel will consult stakeholders, including the general insurance industry, ASIC, APRA, AFCA, the Code Governance Committee, and consumer representatives.