CONTRIBUTORSElite AgentOPINION

Four major changes to landlord insurance

The year 2021 has been a big one! Not only has COVID-19 continued to impact the way we all live and work, but there has been major legislation changes that impact the insurance industry.

Many changes have come on the back of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

Others have been in the pipeline for a while and have been implemented to strengthen the offering and reputation of the industry.

While insurance may seem like a small part of the role of a property manager, I am sure most agents can attest that cover can have huge financial impacts on those who are not adequately insured.

Therefore, it is so important that agents are abreast of changes that impact the way they refer or distribute landlord insurance products.

Below, we look forward and back at some of the biggest changes happening in the industry.

Looking forward

Claims handling
Stricter rules and regulations around claims handling are set to come into effect in January 2022.

At EBM RentCover, we are (and will continue) working with our agent partners to ensure they know exactly what they can and can’t do when it comes to submitting claims on behalf of their clients.

Below, we break it down for you.

You can:

  • Support the landlord to make a claim and prepare or submit supporting evidence as requested.
  • Pass on information to clients that was provided to you directly by a claim specialist or loss adjuster about the expected outcome of a claim.

You must avoid:

  • Providing any personal or general advice about claims.
  • Making a prediction or statement on whether a claim will or will not be paid. You should avoid answering the following questions:
    • Will my claim be paid?
    • How much will I get?
  • Calculating claim settlements or advising the landlord of the payout you think they will receive.

This basically means agents need to be cautious about what conversations they engage in as certain topics are off limits.

Looking back

Unfair contract terms
From 5 April 2021, new laws protecting consumers from unfair terms in contracts for financial products and services were applied.

This basically meant legislation was extended to make sure all insurers considered the impact the wording of their policies had on consumers and claims.

With the consumer in mind, insurers removed or qualified any potential ‘unfair’ terms or wording in policies.

Here is an example of a change in EBM RentCover policies:

  • Faulty workmanship/defects – this definition was expanded to cover situations where the insured person could not reasonably have known of the faulty workmanship or defects.

While this didn’t impact the way agents offer cover, it did mean there were changes to almost all Product Disclosure Statements and these changes needed to be understood by those offering the insurance.

Disputes and resolutions
On the back of the Royal Commission, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission laid out changes to ensure thorough and consistent industry-wide reporting of expressions of dissatisfaction (formerly referred to as complaints and disputes).

This means if an agent is partnered with a landlord insurance provider and receives any sort of expression of dissatisfaction about its products or services, the complaint should be reported to the insurer within 24 hours of the feedback being raised.

EBM RentCover agent partners can touch base with their relationship manger for more information. 

Design and Distribution Obligations (also known as DDO)
DDO introduces targeted design and distribution obligations in relation to financial products.

The obligations require adequate frameworks to be in place to ensure products are only being sold to an appropriate market. 

Part of this includes a Target Market Determination for each insurance product.

At EBM RentCover, we have created a process that only allows people to take out cover if they fall within our target market.

For example, if a landlord is looking for cover for an apartment and does not need building cover as it is already covered by strata, we have restrictions in place to prevent them from taking out RentCover Platinum – as this product includes cover for building, it does not suit the needs of the client.

Target Market Determinations put the onus on insurers to ensure their products are only being served to clients who really need them. They have the added benefit of helping agents to determine if cover is right for their landlords.

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Sharon Fox-Slater

Sharon Fox-Slater is the Managing Director of EBM RentCover, which protects more than 165,000 rental properties across Australia. For more info, visit RentCover.com.au.

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