complaints handling procedure

Introduction

A ‘complaint’ is defined as any expression of dissatisfaction with a product or service offered or provided by the HBCF or its Scheme Agents (including the Insurance Agent’s intermediaries and service providers).

A ‘dispute’ is defined as a complaint that has been considered and responded to by the Insurance Agent and the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome.
 
The HBCF and its Scheme Agents  are required to comply with Market Practice and Claims Handling Guidelines made under the Home Building Act 1989. Under these Guidelines the HBCF is required to have in place an effective internal complaint handling mechanism. 
 
NSW Fair Trading is able to investigate complaints about an alleged breach or failure by the HBCF, and/or an Insurance Agent of the HBCF.  Following the completion of the HBCF's internal dispute resolution process and where the Fund has been unable to appropriately resolve the complaint, complainant can lodge a complaint with Fair Trading. 

Complaints about service standards

A complaint regarding service standards or other matters of a general nature should initially be directed to the relevant Insurance Agent of HBCF either face to face, by phone or in writing.

If you do not feel that your complaint has been dealt with effectively by the Scheme Agent, you can then lodge a dispute with the HBCF.

Complaints about underwriting decisions

A complaint by a builder in relation to an underwriting decision concerning a builder’s eligibility for cover or the issue of a certificate of insurance should in the first instance be submitted to the Insurance Agent via the builder’s broker.

If the matter is not resolved, the builder can then request that it be escalated to the Insurance Agent’s underwriting committee and potentially to the HBCF's underwriting committee. Further information about the underwriting process is contained in the Underwriting Guidelines.

Complaints about claim decisions

Where a homeowner is not satisfied with a decision on a claim by an Insurance Agent they have a right of appeal to the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) www.ncat.nsw.gov.au (or the District Court where the amount involved exceeds the Tribunal’s $500,000 jurisdictional limit).

The homeowner is also entitled, in the first instance, to request a review of the decision by the Insurance Agent. If the matter is not resolved, the homeowner can then request that it be escalated to the Insurance Agent’s claims committee and potentially to the HBCF’s claims committee before needing to lodge a formal appeal to the Tribunal. 

Other dispute resolution mechanisms

The HBCF, when advising a complainant of the outcome of a dispute that has been escalated to the Fund, will provide information regarding dispute resolution mechanisms external to the HBCF offered by NSW Fair Trading www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.
 
There is a right of appeal to the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) available to claimants in relation to a decision of the HBCF to decline (in part or whole) a claim. For this reason complaints relating a decision on a claim are unable to be investigated by NSW Fair Trading.