Fair Trading (Motor Vehicle Insurance and Repair Industry Code of Conduct) Regulations 2023
From 28 February 2023, the National Motor Vehicle Insurance and Repair Industry Code of Conduct (National Code) is mandatory in South Australia. Any business operating as a motor vehicle insurer or repairer must comply with the National Code regardless of whether they are a signatory to the Code.
The purpose of the National Code is to promote transparent, informed, effective and cooperative relationships between motor vehicle insurers and repairers. The National Code sets the standards and expectations of both motor vehicle insurers and repairers.
Dealing with disputes
The National Code provides for three main alternative dispute resolution processes. These are outlined below.
The National Code Administration Committee (CAC) has administrative functions to support these alternative dispute resolution processes. All disputes must be lodged with the CAC through their website https://www.abrcode.com.au/.
- Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR)
Each insurer must establish an IDR mechanism that provides for prompt, transparent and fair resolution of disputes. A party will need to lodge a dispute with CAC to commence an IDR process.
If a dispute is not resolved through IDR, either one or both parties may choose to commence mediation action by lodging a dispute mediation request with the CAC.
The South Australian Small Business Commissioner is an Approved Mediation Provider. If the parties agree to appoint the SASBC to mediate the dispute, the costs for each party will be $195 per mediation day (or part of a mediation day). SASBC will appoint a neutral and independent mediator. The mediator will assist the parties to identify the issues between them and explore options for resolving the dispute.
Motor vehicle insurers and repairers may have advisors, observers or representatives in attendance if:
- the advisor, observer or representative agrees to be bound to confidentiality; and
- the other party to the dispute agrees to their attendance.
- Approved Determination Scheme
If the dispute is partially resolved or unresolved, parties may choose to escalate to the Approved Determination Scheme for a binding determination.
Advice about a dispute
The SASBC can provide general advice about the dispute resolution process available under the National Code. However, SASBC cannot provide any technical or legal advice. If you require legal advice, it is recommended you seek independent legal advice.
Non-compliance with the National Code
The Commissioner will be monitoring motor vehicle insurers and repairers to ensure they conduct themselves in a fair, timely and transparent manner so that consumers with damaged motor vehicles are not unduly inconvenienced or unfairly treated because of the business practices in, or disputes between, the motor vehicle insurance and repair industries.
The Commissioner can receive reports of non-compliance with the National Code from any industry participant. You can report an alleged breach here.
Depending on the nature and extent of non-compliance, enforcement action could include a written warning, issuing an expiation notice or prosecution.
Failing to comply with the National Code can attract:
- a civil expiation fee of $1,200 for a company and $500 for an individual
- maximum penalties of $50,000 for a company and $10,000 for an individual.
For more information about the National Code
See the National Code on the CAC website at https://www.abrcode.com.au/ under the resource centre. A copy of the National Code can also be found on the SASBC website.