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Wednesday, 17 March 2010
Page: 2024

Senator XENOPHON (9:46 AM) —I move my amendment (5) on sheet 5898:

(5)    Schedule 1, item 1, page 9 (after line 23), after section 8, insert:

8A  This Part applies to contracts of insurance

                  Despite section 15 of the Insurance Contracts Act 1984, this Part applies to contracts of insurance.

Under section 15 of the Insurance Contracts Act, insurance contracts are excluded from the operation of any act, Commonwealth, state or territory based, that provides relief in the form of a judicial review of harsh or unfair contracts. This amendment is designed to delete this exemption. To allow insurance contracts to remain exempt from this bill would undermine its intent, which is to provide safeguards for consumers against unfair contract terms.

Insurance contracts can be incredibly confusing, lengthy and jargon filled and in most cases are not clearly understood by consumers. Indeed, it would be unfair to allow this exemption to remain to protect insurance contracts from being subject to unfair contract terms legislation. I commend these amendments. I do not see why the insurance industry should be exempt from legislation that is aimed at targeting unfair contract terms when one of the biggest sources of difficulties for consumers is the way that insurance contracts are drafted and interpreted, and consumers have to fight for their rights with a very unlevel playing field.