When the rubber hits the road – making insurance claims under the new reforms

14 January 2022

  • From 1 January 2022, persons providing claims handling and settling services are required to hold an Australian financial services (AFS) licence under the Corporations Act 2001.
  • Insurance claimants are entitled to ask whether those who are providing assistance to them in handling claims are licensed.
  • ASIC will work with industry to address any challenges they may face in the course of implementing these significant reforms.

A new chapter in the history of insurance in Australia began on 1 January 2022 when the claims handling and settling service reforms came into full force. Persons who provide claims handling and settling services are now required to hold an AFS licence. This means that they must comply with the obligations owed by a person licensed to provide financial services. This includes ensuring those financial services are provided in an efficient, honest and fair manner.

These changes apply to stand-alone claims handling firms who don’t currently hold a licence, as well as insurers and insurance brokers who hold a licence already (and need to extend it to include claims handling). 

ASIC received over 300 applications for a claims handling and settling service AFS licence authorisation in 2021. Licensees are searchable on ASIC’s professional registers.

Implementing the reforms

Importantly, this reform closes a regulatory gap and brings claims handling and settling into the fold as a financial service. We recognise the significant work the sector has undergone to prepare for the changes alongside other reforms stemming from the Financial Services Royal Commission. We will continue to work with industry to address any challenges in the course of implementing these reforms.

Nevertheless, we believe a key ingredient to the successful implementation of the reforms is for insurers to invest in building data capabilities around their claims handling and settling services. This is vital for recording data accurately and in a format that is useful (i.e. searchable and reportable). It will also help insurers to gauge their claims handling performance and detect issues and areas for improvement at an early stage.

In 2022, we will continue to monitor claims outcomes through our ongoing supervisory activities. We will be ready to act if consumer harm is found to be caused by conduct associated with claims handling and settling.

Reminder to claimants

Summer is the peak season for extreme weather events, and as a result, insurance claims for property damage. If you need to make an insurance claim, we encourage you to deal directly with your insurer or an authorised insurance broker, financial adviser or legal representative. Be aware of unscrupulous operators – sometimes referred to as ‘storm chasers’ or ‘disaster chasers’ – who may seek to take advantage of the situation.

You should also be wary of people who:

  • approach you with offers to inspect property damage and perform repair works
  • attempt to charge you fees for helping you to lodge a claim with your insurer
  • discourage you from dealing directly with your insurer
  • persuade you to sign a contract immediately.

Remember, you are entitled to ask these people who they are acting for and whether they are licensed to provide assistance with handling claims. They should be able to show you proof that they are licensed.

Last updated: 14/01/2022 10:00