Maintaining Fair Practice in the Insurance Industry
In the business world, independent organisations protect the consumer by monitoring the practices of specific industries to ensure these companies are complying with regulations and honest business practices.
In New Zealand, there are organisations that serve as insurance watchdogs. All member insurers and banks are bound by the decisions of the following two organisations: the Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) and Insurance Brokers Association of New Zealand (IBANZ). Here are some other self-governing organisations that help to ensure that business is conducted honestly:
- Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ)
- Insurance Brokers Association of New Zealand (IBANZ)
- Insurance and Savings Ombudsman
- Citizens Advice Bureau
- Commerce Institute
- Commerce Commission
- Disputes Tribunal
The Insurance Council of New Zealand - ICNZ – www.icnz.co.nz
Was first established in 1895 to represent fire and general insurers in the country. The Insurance Council (ICNZ) has over 20 member companies responsible for writing about 95 percent of the insurance business in New Zealand.
The ICNZ demands that all members observe the Fair Insurance Code, are subject to an independent review, and must be financially sound.
Insurance Brokers Association of New Zealand – IBANZ – www.IBANZ.co.nz
Represents the interests of fire and general insurance brokers and consumers. The watchdog provides advice to all key stakeholders on insurance issues and makes every effort to maintain standards. They also provide training for key players in the insurance industry. You can find more information at www.ibanz.
Services are free to consumers. However, this organisation does not have the legal authority to deal with insurance complaints. Instead, it works to mediate between the insurance company and the complainant. Whatever decision is handed down, whether favorable for the insurance company or not, the insurer has to abide by this decision. Complainants can take their issue to court if they are not satisfied with the decision of the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman Office.
The Citizens Advice Bureau – CAB – www.cab.org
Is an independent entity which provides the consumer with financial advice. They ensure that consumers are aware of their rights as the insured, and have access to any information they may need for an insurance claim. The organisation also assists individuals with a variety of issues, which can range from the choice of day care center to car accident insurance.
Enforces fair trade practices and prohibits false or misleading business conduct of traders. The primary concerns of this organisation are telecommunications, dairy, and electricity industries, but it refers insurance complaints through the proper channels such as the Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ), the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman ISO or the Insurance Brokers Association of New Zealand (IBANZ). Members of the organisation are barristers appointed by the Governor General and are experts in the three industries they deal with.
The Disputes Tribunal,
The Disputes Tribunal, led by the Secretary for Justice, is an informal court. Instead of lawyers and judges settling disputes, trained mediators help the complainant arrive at a solution or give rulings on disputes. The rulings from the Tribunal are binding and in most cases are imposed by the Courts.
The Tribunal works with other agencies such as the NZ Police, the Department of Corrections, and the Ministry of Social Development to promote the unified goal of a safe and just society for the country. The Tribunal has 103 different sites around New Zealand to provide a host of services that range from court services to policy advice.