1 July 2020

Insurers boost support for customers experiencing family violence, financial hardship and vulnerability

From today, millions of insurance customers will be able to see how their insurer can support them if they are experiencing family violence.

As of July 1, 2020, subscribers to the General Insurance Code of Practice are required to have family violence policies available online for their customers.

Insurance Council of Australia CEO Rob Whelan said family violence policies were particularly important at present, with domestic violence support organisations reporting a sharp rise in cases during COVID-19.

“The family violence policies explain how a customer can discuss their insurance arrangements and access free and confidential support services, while retaining their privacy and confidentiality,” he said.

“Customer-facing staff are being trained to identify those customers who may need extra support. Insurers are also offering support to staff affected by family violence.

“Many insurers introduced their family violence policies before July 1, and customers are already being provided with the support they need during difficult times.”

Insurers are also fast-tracking their support for customers who are experiencing vulnerability, including financial hardship, with measures being implemented from today by Code signatories where possible.

Mr Whelan said: “Insurers have seen the impact that the pandemic and the worst season of natural disasters on record are having on households and small businesses. They are concentrating on providing urgent services, including to customers experiencing financial hardship and vulnerability.

“To assist in this, insurers have brought forward by six months key provisions in the 2020 Code of Practice that deal with these important social and economic issues.

“Insurers are taking extra care with vulnerable customers. Customer-facing staff are working with them to arrange additional support, including flexible options for customers experiencing financial hardship, or referring them to external support agencies.”

Mr Whelan said insurers were putting in place measures to achieve the consumer outcomes intended by these Code provisions, and were being guided by the principles that preface the 2020 Code including transparency, fairness, support and integrity.  

The deadline for full technical compliance for Parts 9 (Supporting customers experiencing vulnerability) and 10 (Financial hardship) of the new 2020 Code remains January 1, 2021 and the 2020 Code will be adopted in full by July 1, 2021. The General Insurance Code of Practice 2014 remains in place until then.


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