WHY USE AN INSURANCE BROKER?
Insurance is one of the most complex products you can buy. That is why you need a qualified insurance broker to help you understand your unique risks and insurance needs, and to find the best cover for you from the insurance market at the best price.
That’s where a broker can be worth their weight in gold, helping to save you time, money and worry – particularly in the event of a claim.
Whether it’s home, car, life or business insurance, brokers provide tailored advice and assistance to make sure you and your property are properly protected. The service standards they offer you – and the protections in place to ensure you are treated in an open and honest way – are set out in the Insurance Brokers Code of Practice.
Find an insurance broker near you, or one who specialises in your area of need, by visiting the online Need a Broker service, or call 1300 53 10 73.
WHAT IS THE INSURANCE BROKERS CODE OF PRACTICE?
All reputable professions are governed by a strong Code of Practice – and insurance broking is no different. Our Code of Practice sets out the minimum service standards you can expect when you use an insurance broker and outlines what you need to do in the unlikely event you have a complaint to make. The Code sets out our commitment in a number of areas, including:
- Managing conflicts of interest;
- Explaining what our services will be;
- Acting for you diligently, competently, fairly and with honesty and integrity;
- Informing you how we are paid for the services we provide;
- Ensuring our staff are competent and adequately trained; and
- Providing an opportunity to resolve complaints and disputes.
In short, it’s our profession’s promise to you that we will act in your best interests at all times and be open and honest with you at every step of the way. This online version of the Code of Practice features additional guidance notes to help brokers and their clients understand the Code more fully. For access to the online version refer to: NIBA Insurance Brokers Code of Practice or alternatively you can download the PDF version here.
WHAT IF I HAVE A COMPLAINT AGAINST A BROKER?
If you do have a complaint about the services being provided by your insurance broker, in the first instance you should raise it with them. All insurance brokers have an internal complaints and disputes handling process designed to help resolve any concern or complaint.
If it is not possible to resolve the complaint to your satisfaction through this process, you can refer the unresolved complaint (called a dispute) to the free and independent external dispute resolution process administered by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).
FOS will examine your dispute and, if it is within its jurisdiction, seek to resolve it by liaising with you and the insurance broker. If the dispute cannot be resolved, FOS can make a determination imposing binding sanctions on an insurance broker after considering the available evidence. While the above process is designed to make things easier for you, you still have your normal legal rights regarding any dispute.
Reassuringly, there are very few disputes involving insurance brokers each year. In the 2012/13 financial year, disputes against brokers made up only 2.5% of the total number of general insurance disputes made to FOS across the nation.
WHY DO YOU NEED TO USE AN INSURANCE BROKER?
An insurance broker can:
- help you to assess and manage your risks, and provide advice on insurance solutions appropriate for your needs;
- help you to arrange, acquire and maintain insurance; and
- act as your advocate in settlement of any claim that may be made by you under your insurance.
- In the majority of cases, an insurance broker acts on your behalf as your agent. In some situations the insurance broker may act for insurers.
Insurance brokers can offer you a variety of services, such as:
- assistance with selecting and arranging appropriate, tailored insurance policies and packages;
- detailed technical expertise including knowledge of insurance markets, prices, terms and conditions, benefits and pitfalls of the wide range of insurance policies available on the market;
- assistance in interpreting, arranging and completing insurance documentation;
- experience in predicting, managing and reducing risks;
- experience with claims and settlements; and
- assistance with services related to insurance such as premium funding and risk management reviews.
The Code is designed to set high standards relating to the role of an insurance broker when acting for customers, as well as when an insurance broker may act for an insurer or play a role in relation to services associated with its insurance services.
WHO OWNS THE CODE?
The Code is an initiative of the National Insurance Brokers Association of Australia ACN 006 093 849 (NIBA) which has been recognised and respected for more than 30 years as the voice of the insurance broking industry in Australia.
Since its incorporation in 1982, NIBA has been a driving force for change in the Australian insurance broking industry, setting higher standards of professionalism and education for insurance brokers, establishing professional qualifications (Qualified Practising Insurance Broker – QPIB) and providing ongoing training and support for insurance brokers through NIBA College.
NIBA represents nearly 400 member firms and over 3000 individual Qualified Practising Insurance Brokers throughout Australia.
Insurance brokers manage more than 90% of the commercial insurance transacted in Australia, and are a major stakeholder in insurance distribution, effectively managing over $16 billion in premiums annually and regularly accessing overseas insurance markets for large and special risks.
WHAT DOES THE CODE SEEK TO DO? (CODE OBJECTIVES)
A “Code Member” is referred to in these Standards as “we”, “our” and “us” and a “Client” as “you” and “your”
The code commits us and our representatives to:
1. High Standards of Customer Service.
We are committed by the Code to high standards, which apply to a very broad range of customers and services.
They are designed to:
- result in a higher standard of service for customers; and
- promote better and more professional, informed and effective relationships between insurance brokers and their customers, insurers and others involved in the insurance industry.
The Code addresses many issues not specifically dealt with in legislation. Where the Code imposes an obligation that is greater than the law we will comply with it (unless it would cause us to breach the law). The Code aims to work together with the many laws covering our conduct and in no way limits your rights under such laws against us. The Code does not create legal or other rights between us and any person other than NIBA, with which we contract in relation to the Code.
2. A free and transparent Complaints and Compliance review process.
3. Abide by any binding sanctions imposed on us under the Code for any breach.
You can complain to the Code Administrator and have the complaint resolved in accordance with the procedures set out in the Code (see “Complaints and Dispute Resolution Process”). This is usually done if our Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) process fails to resolve the complaint. FOS will not usually consider a complaint that has not gone through this process.
The Code Administrator can also conduct reviews of Code compliance by us even where there has been no complaint. There is also an independent Code Compliance Committee that makes determinations on alleged Code breaches unresolved by the Code conciliation process, monitors compliance and oversees administration of the Code. All of the above helps minimise non-compliance and maintain high compliance standards.
By agreeing to the Code we enter into a contract with NIBA to abide by the Code. The Code does not create legal or other rights between us and any person other than NIBA. The Code Compliance Committee can impose binding orders or sanctions on us for a breach of the Code.