IBCCC Inquiry finds complaints processes in the insurance broking industry could be more client-friendly

The Insurance Brokers Code Compliance Committee (IBCCC), the independent committee that monitors compliance with the Insurance Brokers Code of Practice has released the findings from an own motion inquiry into Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) processes.

The inquiry investigated how successfully the Code’s subscribing insurance brokers had taken up recommendations made after a 2017 IDR inquiry. It found “little improvement”, with recommendations not widely implemented.

“Effective IDR is fundamental to the Code’s purpose of promoting professional competence and building trust in the insurance broking industry,” the report states. “This goal is particularly pertinent as the financial services industry faces tough scrutiny from the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.”

NIBA CEO, Dallas Booth said, “The report is important, it is encouraging to know that a number of broking firms are using the complaints process as a learning excercise. Clearly there are areas for further improvement and we look forward to promote the recommendations to our members.”

Many subscribers met basic Code standards but needed to work harder to achieve good practice, particularly regarding clients with special needs. A small number of organisations failed to meet even basic obligations and the Committee flagged tougher measures in these instances, including using its enforcement and sanctions power if necessary.

The report’s recommendations reflect a move towards encouraging organisations to meet the needs of all of its clients and to use its IDR process to raise standards and build consumer trust. 80% of organisations reported using complaint case studies as a tool for analysis and discussion internally, but only a quarter had used de-identified compliments or complaints to promote their business. The Committee recommended subscribers share case studies internally to improve training and within the wider industry.

The Inquiry’s other findings and recommendations include:

Receiving and handling complaints

Although most organisations provide information about complaints processes, 10% of subscribers provide none and only 40% use readily available resources such as translators to help clients with special needs make complaints.

The Committee advised that information about complaints be: written; prominent; comprehensive; and always accessible, rather than upon request. It also made a number of recommendations around making the complaints process more accessible to people with a wide variety of special needs.

Staff training and support

The inquiry found that although 73% of subscribers provide regular complaints handling training to all staff, only 44% train third parties in IDR processes. 67% of subscribers offer support to staff who deal with abusive or threatening behaviour, unchanged since 2017.

The Committee suggested many improvements aimed at boosting staff knowledge throughout organisations and among third parties. It called for greater clarity about the responsibilities third parties have regarding complaints, and the rights of clients complaining about third parties.

The report encouraged open discussion and feedback from staff and clients about handling complaints and suggested stronger frameworks for the support of staff.

Improving IDR processes

In the interests of continually improving complaints handling processes, the Committee recommended subscribers review these at least annually, using an external independent party where possible, and to regard all incidents as potential opportunities for improvement.

The report can be accessed here.