The Italian insurance regulator, IVASS, recently issued new rules regarding complaints handling by insurance undertakings in compliance with the recently enacted European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) guidelines. The new rules have been introduced as amendments to IVASS Regulation 24 (dated 19 May 2008) and include a number of significant changes, particularly for the EU undertakings that receive more than 20 complaints per year, which shall now catalogue complaints and report to IVASS on a regular basis. Information notes (included in the pre-contract information package to proposers) shall also be updated.
'Complaint' and 'complainant'
New definitions of 'complaint' and 'complainant' were introduced under Articles 2(t)(bis) and (t)(ter) as follows:
"(t)(bis) complaint shall mean a statement of dissatisfaction towards an insurance undertaking relative to an insurance contract or service; requests for information or clarification, insurance claims or requests for enforcement of contracts shall not be considered a complaint;
(t)(ter) complainant shall mean a person entitled to request handling of the complaint by the insurance undertaking, for example, a contracting party, insured person, beneficiary and damaged person."
Cooperation between supervisory authorities
Article 6(5) of the regulation provides as follows:
"In case of complaints towards Community insurance undertakings revealing recurrent or particularly serious criticalities IVASS shall also notify such occurrence to the Supervisory Authority of the member State of origin."
Cataloguing complaints and information
Article 9 of the regulation now provides as follows:
"1. The insurance undertakings authorized in Italy shall enter all the complaints received in an electronic database, making sure to enter upon receipt thereof the data referred to in annex 1 inferable from the complaint, adding any related handling information.
2. At the end of each semester, the data referred to in par. 1 shall be indicated in the statistical report referred to in annex 2. With reference to the solar year the reports relative to the second semester shall also include the data of the previous semester. The complaints that at the end of the second semester are still at the preliminary stage shall be shown in the report referred to in annex 3.
3. The head of the internal review body, in monitoring the effectiveness and efficacy of the internal review system, shall verify the correctness of the complaints handling procedures referred to in par. 1 and shall liaise with IVASS in regard to any problems concerning the handling of complaints; once the reports referred to in par. 2 have been received, he/she shall transmit them along with a report to the top management, the administrative body and the control body.
4. The report referred to in par. 3 shall indicate the company divisions, the insurance products and services especially and most frequently complained of, analyse the problems causing the complaints, illustrate any organizational or process deficiency and propose appropriate corrective actions. The administrative and control bodies, each within their sphere of authority, shall make proper evaluations on the report.
5. The reports and the evaluations referred to in pars. 2, 3 and 4 shall be transmitted to IVASS within 60 days from the end of the related semester, according to the methods set forth in the technical document published on the Internet site of the Authority. The report referred to in annex 3 shall be transmitted to IVASS together with the one relating to the first semester of the following year.
6. The undertakings referred to in par. 1 shall keep documentary evidence of the complaints and related handling process for a term of five years from the date of receipt of the complaints.
6 bis. The provisions referred to in pars. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 shall also apply to the Community insurance undertakings that receive more than 20 complaints per year. For such undertakings the evaluation referred to in par. 3 and the report referred to in par. 4 shall be made by the corresponding company bodies."
Article 10 of the regulation now provides as follows:
"1. The insurance undertakings shall publish on their Internet site information to handle a complaint, the methods to submit a complaint, the term to reply and the company department responsible for the complaints and the related contact information, giving evidence thereof on the homepage, in the pre-contractual information note and in the periodic communications during the contracts. The undertakings shall also indicate the methods for the submission of complaints to IVASS, with a cross-reference to the form to be used, and that the complainant in case of partial or non-acceptance of the complaint may turn to IVASS and alternative systems for the settlement of disputes provided for by laws or conventions, specifying the related methods.
2. The undertakings shall make available on their Internet sites, even via a link to IVASS's site, the form to be used to submit a complaint to IVASS."
In accordance with Article 7bis (ie, complaints-handling policy), domestic insurers will:
"adopt a complaints handling policy, to be approved and revised at least once a year by the administrative body, ensuring equal treatment of the insured, contracting party, beneficiary and damaged and aimed at guaranteeing a fair and prompt handling of complaints".
While domestic and third-country insurers must comply with the new rules effective from June 30 2015, EU insurers must comply with the new rules effective from October 1 2015.