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David Bradbury

Assistant Treasurer, Minister Assisting for Financial Services & Superannuation and Minister for Competition Policy & Consumer Affairs

5 March 2012 - 18 September 2013

Media Release of 10/05/2013

NO.066

Release of draft legislation to extend unfair contract term protections to general insurance contracts

Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury today released for public comment draft legislation which will amend the Insurance Contracts Act 1984 to give consumers protection against unfair contract terms in general insurance contracts.

"Australia's recent flood and fire disasters and extreme weather events highlight the need for consumers to have confidence that their insurance policy will not unfairly favour the insurer should a claim be made," Mr Bradbury said.

"These reforms will ensure that consumers will have the same protection from unfair contract terms in general insurance contracts as is available for consumers of other financial products and services."

The key elements of the draft legislation are:

  • the new unfair contract terms regime will apply to general insurance contracts on an equivalent basis to the regime applying to other financial products or services in the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001. The new regime is modified appropriately for contracts of general insurance;
  • consumers and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) will be able to take action for unfair terms in a standard form consumer contract of general insurance, such as seeking a court declaration that a term is unfair. A court will have access to a range of remedies in such circumstances;
  • an insurer found by a court to have an unfair term will be in breach of the duty of utmost good faith and will not be able to rely on the term;
  • ASIC will be given powers to enforce unfair contract terms for general insurance contracts by reference to the enforcement and investigation powers it has in the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001;
  • the amendments will apply to standard form consumer contracts of general insurance entered into, or renewed, on or after the commencement day, and to terms varied on or after the commencement day. The commencement day will be 12 months after the day the Act receives Royal Assent, giving general insurers a transition period to review their standard form consumer contracts for unfair terms.

"The release of this draft legislation shows the Government is committed to continuing the consultative process for these reforms. I encourage all interested stakeholders to express their views."

The exposure draft legislation and explanatory material are available on the Treasury website. The closing date for submissions is 31 May 2013.

10 May 2013