Complaint Handling Procedure



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 Distributors/Brokers. 

A ‘dispute’ is defined as a complaint that has been considered and responded to by the Scheme Agent and the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome.

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 may investigate complaints about an alleged breach or failure by HBCF, and/or an Scheme Agents of HBCF. However, the complaint must be first lodged with HBCF. Following the completion of the HBCF's internal dispute resolution process and where HBCF has been unable to appropriately resolve the matter, the complainant can lodge a complaint escalating the matter to NSW Fair Trading.

Internal complaint handling

Each Scheme Agent has its own internal complaint and dispute handling procedures for the handling of HBCF complaints and disputes that are approved by the HBCF. They are also required to comply with Market Practice Guidelines and Claims Handling Guidelines made by NSW Fair Trading.

Complaints about Service Standards

The service standards for Eligibility and Project Applications Service Standards and Claims Service Standards apply to Scheme Agents in processing applications for Eligibility, Certificates of Insurance (CoI) and insurance claims. The standards and certain timelines are dependent on the completeness of the information as requested in line with the Eligibility & Profile Change Application, Project Application or Claim Form.
A complaint regarding service standards or other matters of a general nature should initially be directed to the relevant Scheme Agent either face to face, by phone or in writing. If the complainant do not feel that their complaint has been dealt with effectively by the Scheme Agent, they can then lodge a dispute with HBCF.

Complaints about claim decisions

Where a homeowner is not satisfied with a decision on a claim by an Scheme Agent they have a right of appeal to the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) (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 Scheme Agent. If the matter is not resolved, the homeowner can then request that it be escalated to the Scheme Agent’s claims committee and potentially to the icare HBCF’s claims committee before needing to lodge a formal appeal to the Tribunal. 

Other dispute resolution mechanism

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 icare HBCF offered by NSW Fair Trading
There is a right of appeal to the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) available to claimants in relation to a decision of icare builders warranty 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.

References on this website to builders and building work include and apply to work undertaken by trade contractors and other building contractors such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters, swimming pool builders etc.