Hayne recommendations ‘lack clarity and understanding’

A “raft of regulatory change” will sweep through financial services following the Hayne royal commission, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) warns. Reforms will be “game-changing”, but implementing them will be challenging due to a lack of clarity and understanding, CEO Rob Whelan told last night’s ICA Annual Dinner in Sydney. “In some respects the recommendations are less than clear in their intent,” he said. “And there are the interaction effects between recommendations, existing law and prospective legislation – not all of which are fully understood. “Nevertheless we must adapt to these changes and implement in a way that ensures the industry remains efficient, competitive and delivering positive consumer outcomes.” ICA is currently reviewing the General Insurance Code of Practice, with a draft code presented to its board this week. Mr Whelan believes the revised code will be critical to the industry’s future. “Accommodating the needs of a diverse community and the demands for greater accountability through enforcement has put considerable strains on the development of a new code,” he said. “Balancing flexibility and principled intentions that Hayne considered essential in a code, with the hard-wired legally enforceable commitments he also required, is a challenge. “Difficult as it may be, we must strike that balance to ensure the code delivers the enhanced consumer focus that will continue to drive our industry forward.” Mr Whelan reflects on this summer’s natural disasters, including the “extraordinary flooding” that hit the north Queensland city of Townsville. “The industry response to this disaster was outstanding,” he said. “Assessors and claims staff were deployed as soon as access was available and quickly after there were emergency payments made and repairs begun.” Mr Whelan says “regrettably”, despite living on a flood plain, some businesses and residents did not take out flood cover. “[This] continues to be a challenge for the industry to build awareness of the very real and growing risks of extreme weather,” he said.

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