The General Insurance Code of Practice is a set of high service standards that insurers agree to meet. By adopting the Code, insurers commit to openness, fairness and honesty in all their dealings with consumers and small businesses. The Code was created by the industry and is owned by the industry peak body, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA). All ICA members offering products covered by the Code must adopt it. An independent Code Governance Committee monitors insurers to make sure they comply with the Code.
The Code sets out specific standards that insurers must meet whenever a consumer:
- buys insurance
- makes a claim
- is affected by a catastrophe
- is experiencing financial hardship or other vulnerability, or
- makes a complaint.
The Code drives insurers to continually improve, going beyond the legal bare minimum to provide excellent service to consumers.
The Code covers most general insurance products bought by consumers and small businesses.
What is covered by the Code includes:
- car insurance
- home insurance
- contents insurance
- consumer credit insurance
- travel insurance
- pet insurance
- insurance for personal and domestic items including mobile phones, tablets and laptops
- motorbike and scooters insurance
- boat insurance
- sickness and accident insurance
- residential strata insurance
What isn’t covered
The Code applies to companies that have adopted or ‘subscribed’ to the Code. They are known as Code Subscribers. A list of Code Subscribers can be viewed here.
The 2014 General Insurance Code of Practice (2014 Code) came into effect on 1 July 2015, replacing the previous 2012 Code. The 2014 Code incorporated new financial hardship obligations and was widened to cover third party beneficiaries.
- stronger protections for vulnerable consumers, including people with mental health conditions and those experiencing family violence
- enhanced financial hardship provisions
- new product design and disclosure obligations
- new claims investigation standards.
The ICA formally launched the new Code, the 2020 General Insurance Code of Practice (2020 Code), in early 2020.
Subscribers’ implementation of the 2020 Code is on a phased basis.
Paragraph 95 of the 2020 Code, setting out a requirement for subscribers to have a family violence policy published on their website, came into effect on 1 July 2020.
Part 9 (Supporting customers experiencing vulnerability) and Part 10 (Financial Hardship) of the 2020 Code came into effect on 1 January 2021. Part 10 of the 2020 Code replaces Section 8 of the 2014 Code, while Part 9 introduces new standards to the Code.
The remainder of the 2020 Code will apply to all Code subscribers from 1 July 2021.