Ann-Marie Coleman

Plans unveiled for claims handling reform

The Government has released a consultation paper in response to the recommendation from the Financial Services Royal Commission that claims handling should no longer be excluded from the definition of ‘financial service’. A two-pronged approach has been proposed in response to this recommendation: Remove regulation 7.1.33 which currently excludes claims handling and claims settlement from constituting providing financial advice or dealing in an insurance product. Define the activity of handling or settling an insurance claim as a ‘financial service’ for the purposes of the Corporations Act. While a precise definition is yet to be developed, it is proposed that the …

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Stronger penalties for corporate misconduct to be introduced

The Treasury Amendment (Strengthening Corporate and Financial Sector Penalties) Bill 2018 (Bill), which introduces stronger penalties for corporate and financial sector misconduct, has been passed by the Senate. The Bill implements recommendations of the ASIC Enforcement Review Taskforce and will amend the Corporations Act, ASIC Act, National Consumer Credit Protection Act (and Credit Code) and the Insurance Contracts Act. While the Bill still needs to be formally approved by the House of Representatives, this is seen as a formality only. Generally, the Bill proposes various changes to penalties contained in the above mentioned legislation, including: increasing maximum imprisonment penalties for certain …

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ASIC focuses in on IDR processes

ASIC has released research exploring the customer experience of internal dispute resolution (IDR) procedures in the financial services sector. Financial services licensees have specific obligations around maintaining an IDR procedure. As well as reporting on statistics around complaints, the research identified that the following are common obstacles encountered by customers during the complaints processes: Structural obstacles – difficulty in finding the firm’s contact details to make a complaint. Transparency obstacles – not having the IDR process explained well at first contact and/or being unsure of how long it will take for a decision to be made. Customer service obstacles – …

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Life Insurance Code 2.0

The Financial Services Council has released a draft of the new Life Insurance Code of Practice (Code) for public consultation. This follows scrutiny of the industry, including sales and claims practices, during the round 6 hearings at the Financial Services Royal Commission. The draft Code builds on the existing code and is designed to lift standards in product design, sales, underwriting, customer service, complaints and claims handling. Chapter 1 places obligations on life insurance companies and Chapter 2 places obligations on superannuation trustees where life insurance is in superannuation. Key changes proposed by the draft Code include the following: Increased …

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ASIC proposes updates to organisational competence requirements for advice licensees

ASIC has proposed updates to Regulatory Guide 105 Licensing: Organisational competence (RG 105) that would see advice licensees required to have a responsible manager (RM) that meets a new Option 6 knowledge and skills requirement. Consultation Paper 305, released yesterday by ASIC, includes updates designed to support the professional standards reforms, which aim to lift the education, training and ethical standards in the financial advice industry. For the purpose of the Consultation Paper, ‘advice licensees’ are licensees who provide personal advice to retail clients in relation to financial products other than basic banking products, general insurance products and consumer credit …

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New mandatory reporting requirements on life insurance claims

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has released the Life Insurance Reporting Standard LRS 750 Claims and Disputes with the aim of enhancing the consistency and quality of life insurance data. The data will be published through a program established jointly last year by APRA and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). With the introduction of the new reporting standard, it is now mandatory for life insurers to report data on claims and disputes. APRA and ASIC have published data in the past on life insurance and claims, however, participation was not mandatory an insurers did not interpret the …

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ASIC corporate plan – what’s on the horizon for insurance

ASIC has published its Corporate Plan for 2018-2022. The plan articulates the regulatory actions ASIC proposes to take over 2018-2019. ASIC’s plan includes the following regulatory actions relevant to the insurance industry: Publishing the findings from ASIC’s review of life insurance direct sales and distribution to promote better practices. This has already occurred (read more about this here). Consulting on a deferred sales model for add-on insurance and other financial products sold through car dealerships and extending improvements to the design, value and sales practices of add-on insurance to warranties sold in car dealerships. Establishing a reporting regime with APRA …

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ASIC reviews insurance cover through superannuation

Following the release of its report into direct life insurance (see our blog entry on that here), ASIC has also released a report on the provision of insurance cover through superannuation (Report 591). Generally, superannuation funds offer their members one or more types of life insurance (such as life cover, TPD cover and income protection cover). 70% of all life insurance policies in Australia are held through superannuation funds. ASIC’s review of 47 superannuation trustees focused on the following: Insurance claims and complaints handling. Disclosures about insurance (including about cover ceasing). Insurer rebates paid to trustees. Whether members were defaulted …

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ASIC’s review of direct life insurance – the results are in

Late last week, ASIC released Report 587 on the sale of direct life insurance, revealing that its has found that sales practices and product design are leading to poor consumer outcomes. Direct life insurance products are sold within a general advice or no advice model. Throughout 2017-18 ASIC has conducted a multi-stage review of the sale of direct life insurance, including term life, accidental death, trauma, total and permanent disability and income protection insurance. The release of Report 587 follows action taken by ASIC earlier this year against ClearView Life Assurance Limited that resulted in customer refunds (see our previous …

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New EDR scheme established for financial services complaints

The Government has passed legislation which introduces a new external dispute resolution (EDR) scheme, known as the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), to resolve disputes relating to financial services complaints. The establishment of AFCA means there will be a single scheme for all financial services and superannuation complaints. Currently there are three separate schemes: the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO) and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal. AFCA will have higher monetary limits and compensation caps than the existing schemes. In addition, there will be an enhanced internal dispute resolution (IDR) framework to report IDR activities to …

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Draft legislation proposes design and distribution obligations for financial products

Late last year, the Government released an exposure draft of the Treasury Laws Amendment (Design and Distribution Obligations and Product Intervention Powers) Bill 2017 (Bill). The Bill seeks to introduce: design and distribution obligations for financial products to ensure such products are targeted at the right people; and a temporary product intervention power for ASIC when there is a risk of significant consumer detriment. Design and distribution obligations The design obligations apply to the offerors of financial products and include obligations to: Make a target market determination (determination) for the product before dealing in the product or providing financial product …

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ASIC review into direct life insurance results in customer refunds

ASIC has announced that ClearView Life Assurance Limited (Clearview) will refund 16,000 customers a total of approximately $1.5 million. This follows an ASIC review of Clearview’s life insurance sales practices. The review focused on sales to consumers residing in high Indigenous populated areas who were unlikely to have English as their first language. The sales were made directly to consumers, without personal financial advice. The review found that sales staff: made misleading statements about the cover, the premiums and the effect of the customer’s pre-existing medical conditions; did not clearly obtain the customer’s consent to purchase the cover before processing …

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ASIC seeks further powers to provide directions to licensees

The ASIC Enforcement Review Taskforce (Taskforce) is seeking to expand ASIC’s powers to give directions to financial services and credit licensees (licensees). This follows on from the Taskforce’s earlier recommendation that ASIC’s banning powers be enhanced (see our previous update for more information – available here). The key recommendations from the Taskforce are as follows: Where necessary to address or prevent compliance failures, ASIC should have the power to direct licensees regarding the conduct of their business (Directions Power). The legislation would set out the types of directions that ASIC can make. The Directions Power should be triggered where a …

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ASIC seeking to enhance banning power

The ASIC Enforcement Review Taskforce (Taskforce) is seeking to enhance ASIC’s banning powers, to ensure ASIC can take action to ban senior managers from managing financial services business. The Taskforce has made two key recommendations to increase the banning powers. 1. Whilst ASIC currently has the power to ban a person from providing financial services, the Taskforce has recommended the powers be broadened to allow ASIC to ban a person from: Performing a specific function in a financial services business, including being a senior manager or controller of a financial services business; and/or Performing any function in a financial services …

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ASIC consults on add-on insurance reforms

ASIC is seeking feedback on proposals to reform the sale of add-on insurance through car dealerships. Consultation Paper 294 sets out ASIC’s approach and proposed reforms in detail. The reforms would see the introduction of: A deferred sales model ASIC proposes to introduce a deferred sales model which would insert a pause in the sales process for add-on insurance products. The proposal is that a period of between 4 to 30 days must elapse before dealers could sell an add-on insurance product to a customer. ASIC has suggested 3 points in time from which the deferral period could commence: a. When …

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