On April 1 2014 IVASS, the Italian insurance regulator, published a draft measure on its website containing amendments to ISVAP(1) Regulation 24/2008 on complaints handling.
The draft measure's accompanying report explains that the new provisions are necessary following the issue of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority Guidelines on Complaints Handling by Insurance Undertakings. Based on these guidelines, the national supervisory authorities are required to ensure that insurance undertakings:
- establish a complaints management policy;
- institute a complaints management function;
- register received complaints appropriately;
- report to the supervisory authority;
- analyse data on complaints, with a view to identifying and solving recurring or systemic problems;
- provide adequate information to consumers (eg, publication in brochures or on websites of a description of the complaints handling process) and individual complainants (eg, allowing them to contact alternative dispute resolution organisations or the supervisory authority, in addition to the courts, where the complaint has been rejected); and
- establish an adequate procedure to ensure that:
- responses to complaints are provided in accordance with validity criteria for the information gathered, are communicated in plain language and comply with the set time limits; and
- a thorough explanation of the insurance intermediary's position is provided.
The draft measure introduces the following changes:
- The definition of 'complaint' has been altered to clarify that simple requests for information or requests for contract implementation or damage compensation do not constitute complaints.
- The scope of application of the regulation has been extended to EU insurance undertakings operating in Italy on a permanent basis and by way of freedom to provide services.
- The following obligations have been introduced:
- Undertakings must establish a complaints handling policy – to be reviewed regularly by the administrative body – based on the fair treatment of policyholders, beneficiaries and injured parties.
- Procedures must be adopted that allow for the identification of both the business products and processes most affected by complaints and the root causes of such complaints, with a view to ensuring that they do not affect other business products or processes.
- Necessary corrective actions must be adopted in case of criticalities.
- The periodic report on complaints handling prepared by internal auditing – to be submitted to the company's administrative body and sent periodically to IVASS – must contain an analysis of the issues that have given rise to complaints and proposals for corrective actions.
- The language used by undertakings in communications with complainants must be plain and easily understandable. Where the complaint is not accepted or only partially accepted, the undertaking must provide a thorough explanation of its position, providing information in relation to the possibility of contacting IVASS or alternative dispute resolution systems, as well as the judicial authority.
The consultation period for observations, comments and proposals to be sent to IVASS closed on April 30 2014.
David Maria Marino
This article first appeared in IAM magazine. For further information please visit www.iam-magazine.com.