It started with the then Howard Government announcing a comprehensive review of the Insurance Contracts Act (Act) on 10 September 2003. Just shy of ten years later, and in the second last week of sittings before the election, the Insurance Contracts Amendment Bill 2013 (Bill) was finally passed on 20 July 2013.
Overall, the Bill introduces a number of well directed amendments to the Act which should further improve the operation of an Act that has operated well for over 25 years. Insurers will particularly welcome the amendments which enable notices and information, which the Act requires them to provide to insureds, to be provided electronically. This simple, but long overdue, change will significantly increase the efficiency and reduce the cost of insurers doing business.
The Bill does not introduce any provisions in respect of unfair contract terms. Exposure draft legislation dealing with those reforms were recently released. Submissions closed on 31 May 2013. With only four sitting days remaining prior to the election, it remains to be seen whether (and, if so, in what form) that legislation will be made law. Watch this space.