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Insurers to get new advocacy body

Australia's life insurance industry will soon have a new peak body, the Council of Australian Life Insurers (CALI).

Expected to launch later this year, CALI is the brainchild of a collective of life insurers who believe it is now time for the sector to have its own dedicated association.

The insurance companies that have indicated they will take up membership upon commencement are AIA Australia, Challenger, ClearView, General Reinsurance Life, Hannover Re, Integrity Life, MetLife Australia, MLC Life, Munich Re, NobleOak, Pacific Life Re, QInsure, RGA Reinsurance, Resolution Life Australasia, SCOR Life & Health, Swiss Re, TAL and Zurich Financial Services.

"The Council of Australian Life Insurers will be the progressive voice of life insurance in Australia, focusing on what is important to consumers and making continuous improvements to meet those expectations," a spokesperson for the group said.

"CALI will also look to foster and strengthen the knowledge and understanding of Australians on the value of life insurance and the importance of the benefits and protections it provides."

To date, much of the advocacy done on insurers' behalf has been carried out by the Financial Services Council (FSC). CALI acknowledged the FSC's work, saying it has played a critical role in representing the sector and in the execution of key projects such as the Life Insurance Code of Practice and data collection and analysis initiatives.

CALI said it will be seeking to take over future responsibility of the Code of Practice but expects to maintain a close relationship with the FSC. The FSC said it looks forward to working with the group.

CALI's initial focus will be on lifting consumer standards within the industry through professional standards and codes of conduct; advocating for appropriate, affordable, and sustainable cover; educating broadly on the value of insurance; and identifying opportunities for the industry to further contribute to the community.

"Life insurance plays an essential role in Australia's community and economy, and it is important that it remains accessible and sustainable for all Australians into the future," the spokesperson said.

"Through CALI, we intend to strengthen our engagement and relationships with our stakeholders, including consumers, their representatives, policymakers and regulators, to ensure we deeply understand their views."

The body is currently recruiting for a chief executive and staff and expects to be fully operational by Q4 this year.

Commenting further, FSC chief executive Blake Briggs said: "The FSC welcomes the formation of a sector specific association that will collaborate with the FSC and compliment the FSC's broader representation and advocacy on behalf of the financial services industry."

"The FSC's priority is continuing to be a strong advocate for our broader membership across funds management, superannuation, financial advice, life insurance and investment platforms, and we welcome the opportunity to collaborate with aligned organisations that represent subsectors within the industry."

The announcement of CALI comes as the FSC released the latest iteration of the Code of Practice, adding a further 50 consumer protections.

"A priority for the FSC is ensuring continuity of consumer protections in the life insurance industry. The FSC and the life insurance industry are committed to the implementation of the new Life Insurance Code of Practice and ongoing independent oversight by the Life Code Compliance Committee," Briggs said.

Read more: FSCCALICouncil of Australian Life InsurersLife Insurance Code of PracticeBlake BriggsFinancial Services Council