Code subscribers will soon be asked to complete their Annual Compliance Statements (ACS).

Given the extraordinary events of 2020, the questionnaire is shorter than previous years. It includes an important new section that will help us to understand how your clients were affected by natural disasters and the pandemic – and how you responded to the challenges.

The Committee is eager to discover what Code subscribers learnt during this period and whether they had resilience policies in place – or developed them as the year progressed – to help staff cope with the challenges presented by multiple severe disasters.

Subscribers to the Insurance Brokers Code of Practice (the Code) will already have received information about completing the 2020 ACS. For the 260 new subscribers who came on board in December 2019, this will be their first encounter with the crucial ACS program.

Data collected in the ACS is essential to the work of the Insurance Brokers Code Compliance Committee (the Committee)

  • in helping to maintain high standards of practice and service and appropriate behaviour in the industry
  • in enabling us to assess professionalism and competency
  • in identifying which behaviours require guidance
  • and – when we identify emerging trends and issues – to shape the Committee’s future work.

The upcoming ACS covers the period from January to end-December 2020. Final submission date is 31 March 2021. Please submit as early as possible.

The Committee recognises that this has been a difficult year for insurance brokers, their clients and the industry as a whole. As well as dealing with the impact of terrible bushfires and floods in parts of Australia and the COVID-19 pandemic, brokers are also working through regulatory changes as part of the response to the Financial Services Royal Commission. As a result, we have adopted a shortened format of the ACS for 2020.

As always, the ACS seeks information about

  • insurance brokers’ Code compliance frameworks, including
  • details about breach and complaint reporting,
  • the overall culture of compliance, and
  • examples of where good industry practice has occurred.

In response to feedback from subscribers, the 2020 ACS features 16 new or amended categories for complaints that should enable brokers to be more specific about reporting complaint types and the frequency of these complaints. There are also new or amended categories covering the outcome of complaints.

Section F of the 2020 ACS specifically addresses the unprecedented events of late last year and 2020. It is designed to elicit valuable information about how many clients were affected and to what extent. The Committee is also eager to discover what firms learnt during this period and whether they had resilience policies in place – or developed them as the year progressed – to help staff cope with the challenges presented by multiple severe disasters.

Section F also contains a timely follow-up to special data requested in last year’s ACS about premium funding and dealing with clients experiencing financial hardship. In the current economic climate, this issue is particularly relevant.

We urge new subscribers to approach their first ACS in a meaningful way;

  • engage with the program
  • do not regard it simply as a form-filling exercise
  • it is not a test than can be passed with volumes of unconsidered data or nil responses.

The information collected in the ACS is designed to provide a snapshot of an evolving industry that is continuously seeking to improve itself. This is an important part of NIBA’s strategy on behalf of its members.

The process of actually completing the ACS may even alert you to ways you can improve current processes and procedures, and thus your professionalism and service to your clients.

We encourage all subscribers to consider the value that the ACS ultimately contributes to your organisation, the insurance industry and the wider community.

Data collected through the ACS program is aggregated, de-identified, analysed for trends and patterns, and reported in the Committee’s Annual Review. Benchmarked data allows broking firms to compare their behaviour with others of a similar size. Issues requiring further inquiry are identified.

Given the turbulence of 2020 and the inevitable changes ahead, the guidance of the Code of Practice has never been more relevant. Understanding how the industry engages with the Code at this time is critical.

You can also find a webinar which provide you with screenshots of the online portal and guidance on how to complete your ACS here.