The life insurance industry is a significant part of the financial services sector in Australia. It has a noble purpose in providing financial protection to policyholders in times of need and financial distress. Despite this, there are sections of the industry that can and must do better in delivering the protection they promise whilst remaining financially viable long into the future. The committee has taken a broad view of the life insurance industry covering direct, retail and group life insurance products including life cover, total and permanent disability cover, trauma cover, and income protection. The committee's inquiry has followed on from, and overlapped with, significant reviews and legislative changes, as well as ownership changes in the industry.
The committee's report has focussed on areas where substantial changes are required to ensure the life insurance industry is held to account in relation to:
• effective consumer protections and industry codes of practice;
• the transparency of remuneration, commissions, payments and fees;
• the provision of advice in the best interests of consumers;
• group life insurance arrangements that do not disadvantage certain groups of consumers;
• appropriate access to personal medical and genetic information; and • fair claims handling practices.
The structure of this report is as follows:
Chapter 2 provides background on the life insurance industry;
Chapter 3 considers consumer protections that apply to life insurance;
Chapter 4 discusses the life insurance codes of practice;
Chapter 5 discusses remuneration, commissions, payments and fees;
Chapter 6 examines retail life insurance and approved product lists;
Chapter 7 considers group life insurance;
Chapter 8 considers the access life insurers have to a customer's medical information at the time of purchasing a policy and at the time of making a claim;
Chapter 9 discusses the use of genetic information in life insurance; and
Chapter 10 examines claims handling practices, including the use of surveillance, and legacy products.