We participated in the Royal Commission and accept that at times we have fallen short of these expectations.
The Final Report from the Royal Commission outlined 76 recommendations related to banking, financial advice, superannuation, insurance, culture, governance and remuneration, regulators and other important measures. We continue to work through the policy recommendations with the aim of ensuring optimal outcomes for our customers.
Since the release of the Royal Commission’s Final Report, Suncorp has provided input into the Australian Government (Treasury) consultation on two of the recommendations – removing the current exemption for claims handling from the definition of a financial service under the Corporations Act, and making some Code of Practice provisions enforceable.
#Engaging with Government & Industry
Suncorp proactively participates in government inquiries and public policy advocacy relevant to our business, to help ensure better outcomes for our customers and stakeholders.
We also work with industry associations to address systemic issues, help drive change, and improve standards which will ultimately increase trust in the financial services industry. These include the Australian Banking Association (ABA), the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), the Insurance Council of New Zealand, the Financial Services Council in Australia and New Zealand, the Business Council of Australia and BusinessNZ.
In many areas, such as natural disaster resilience, Suncorp continues to be a leader in advocating for sustainable development and greater investment in effective disaster preparation and resilience building.
During the year, we directly made 18 submissions to government inquiries in Australia and New Zealand.
#Insurance Affordability in Northern Australia
We believe the only way to sustainably reduce insurance premiums in northern Australia is to reduce the impacts of natural disasters. During the year we participated in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Northern Australia Insurance Inquiry process, and welcomed the key finding that natural hazard risk is the main driver of insurance costs in the region.
#Increasing Competition in the Banking Sector
Suncorp, along with other regional banks, continues to advocate for greater competition in the Australian banking sector. We believe that addressing structural inequalities for smaller banks in the banking system will improve competition and provide better access to banking products for all consumers.
#Improving Disclosure in General Insurance
Suncorp continues to explore ways of making insurance product disclosure more
transparent and easier for our customers to understand. We expanded year-on-year premium disclosure across all our Australian general insurance brands, in advance of state-based and revised General Insurance Code of Practice requirements.
Our submission to Treasury’s consultation on disclosure in general insurance called for greater flexibility in regulation to allow for alternative methods of disclosure, such as through animations or other visual formats. Disclosure to customers about their key risks will help them address possible underinsurance and reduce their own risk.
#Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Scheme reform
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government introduced a no-fault defined benefit model that will provide CTP insurance cover for all those injured in a motor vehicle accident in the ACT. Suncorp will continue to campaign for similar changes to the Queensland CTP scheme, and expanding no-fault defined benefit cover in New South Wales for injured motorists.
#Travel Insurance changes
During 2018–19, we reviewed our travel insurance products and made coverage available to customers with pre-existing mental health conditions, enabling more Australians to access travel insurance protection.
We were also involved in a Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission investigation into potential discrimination by insurers regarding mental health coverage in travel insurance.
#New Industry Codes
Suncorp has been actively involved in updating the Banking and General Insurance Codes of Practice in Australia. These codes aim to provide better customer protections, increase transparency, and strengthen support for small businesses and customers experiencing vulnerability.
We have been a signatory to the ABA Banking Code of Practice since 30 June 2004 and implemented the updated Code on 1 July 2019. We support the plain-English code which is designed to make it easier for customers to understand banking products and services and their rights and protections.
The transition to the refreshed General Insurance Code of Practice will commence in January 2020 and come into effect in January 2021. Suncorp has worked closely with the ICA to help lead development of the updated Code and believes it will give insurers the opportunity to improve their care for customers experiencing vulnerability.
#Financial Markets Authority and Reserve Bank of New Zealand review of Conduct and Culture in New Zealand Life Insurers
Since the release of the Life Insurer Conduct and Culture report, Suncorp New Zealand has engaged with central government and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment on the findings of the report and subsequent Options Paper for regulating the conduct of financial institutions in New Zealand. We have established a program of work, led by our Chief Risk Officer in New Zealand, to address feedback and report on progress.