The General Insurance Code of Practice: An Overview
The General Insurance Code of Practice (GICOP) outlines the standards general insurers must meet when providing services to customers, including being open, fair and honest. It also includes timeframes within which insurers must respond to customers’ claims, complaints and requests for information.
Provisions in relation to buying insurance include prohibiting pressure selling, guidelines for renewing insurance policies, outlining premium comparisons and cancelling insurance policies. There is also a requirement for transparency around making a claim, including information about the claims process, excess amounts, waiting or ‘no cover’ periods, and how to contact the insurer in relation to a claim.
The GICOP also requires transparency around information relied upon in assessing an application for insurance cover or handling a claim or in responding to a complaint. Such information must be made available to customers free of charge.
The GICOP requires insurers to cooperate with parties experiencing vulnerability. Vulnerability may be caused by various factors, including age, disability, mental health conditions, physical health conditions, family violence, language barriers or financial distress. GICOP outlines how insurers must work with parties experiencing vulnerability to achieve acceptable outcomes.
A key provision in the GICOP includes guidelines that insurers must follow when dealing with a person experiencing financial hardship. An individual who owes money to an insurer may be entitled to rely on GICOP’s Financial Hardship provisions.
If an individual is found to be experiencing Financial Hardship, then an insurer must discuss with the individual the various potential arrangements outlined in the GICOP. Arrangements can include delaying payment of the debt, paying in instalments or paying a reduced sum. In certain cases, an individual can ask for their debt to be released, discharged, or waived.
Failure to comply with the GICOP can result in the breach being reported to the Code Governance Committee. This is an independent body that conducts investigations about alleged GICOP breaches.
If you have been dissatisfied in your dealings with an insurer, contact us to discuss whether GICOP may be of assistance to you.
Contact our Insurance Law Team for any queries regarding the General Insurance Code of Practice.
This article was prepared with the assistance of Elinore Rema.
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