We are commonly asked what obligations and level of authority Strata Managers have when arranging insurance on behalf of their clients.
Subsequent to the Financial Services Reform Act (FSRA) in 2004 that now forms part of the Corporation Act, the Financial Services Industry, which incorporates the Insurance industry, has undergone radical changes as to how they provide financial service information. The legislation also meant that any financial service provider had to obtain an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL), before providing any financial services to certain types of clients who purchase certain types of retail products.
A Licensee is entitled to extend their licence authorisation to a representative and this applies to their employees and any other non-employed representatives that they choose to authorise – i.e. an Authorised Representative (AR).
Since the reforms, for a Strata Manager to be able to provide a financial service they need to either become an Authorised Representative, or a Distributor of a registered AFSL holder. An AR must also be trained according to whichever standard of advice the AFSL holder authorises. In the case of Whitbread Insurance Brokers, all of our Authorised Representatives are only authorised to provide General Advice and Factual Information.
Once appointed as an Authorised Representative or Distributor, Strata Managers are then expected to remain competent and are also subject to monitoring and supervision (including Audits).
What information and advice can I provide?
- As the holder of an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL), Whitbread Associates Pty Ltd trading as WIB, is allowed to provide Financial Advice, General Advice, Personal Advice and Factual Information.
- A Whitbread Broker, as an employee of an entity who is licensed, is also allowed to provide Financial Advice, General Advice, Personal Advice and Factual Information.
- A Strata Manager who is an Authorised Representative of Whitbread, is allowed to provide General Advice and Factual Information only.
Anyone who has access to a policy wording or insurer brochures can give factual information, however, the level of financial product information that can be imparted by ‘Distributors’ and ‘Authorised Representatives’ varies.
It is important for Strata Managers who handle insurance for their clients to understand the advantages of being an Authorised Representative as opposed to being a simple Distributor.
While both Distributors and Authorised Representatives are able to arrange insurance, distributors are only able to provide Factual Information about the insurer and Strata Insurance products. Distributors are not allowed to provide any advice (General or Personal) at all in relation to the Strata Insurance product. An Authorised Representative appointed by Whitbread can provide General Advice, in addition to arranging the Strata Insurance.
How do I benefit from being an Authorised Representative of Whitbread?
As an Authorised Representative of an AFS licensee, you are equipped to deliver a superior level of customer service to your clients as a result of holding this authority. As Strata Managers have a fiduciary responsibility to owners, the option to give general advice to effectively meet owners’ expectations is an important benefit and one that provides reassurance to clients that their manager has knowledge of their insurance requirements. Note that Whitbread ensures that all of their ARs are properly trained in the art of giving general advice as well as being appointed in accordance with legal requirements.
Other distribution models are not as effective as the AR model, as those who are not Authorised Representatives are limited to repeating the information contained in a policy wording or an insurance brochure, information which is accessible by any other member of the public.
As a Whitbread Authorised Representative, what I am allowed to do?
As per your obligations under the AR Agreement signed by Whitbread, Authorised Representatives can;
- Provide general advice and factual information only
- Lodge and maintain claims, collect policy excess, arrange repairers and liaise with assessors
- Collect and pay insurance premiums to our office
- Advise the OC of risk recommendations and arrange implementation if requested by the insurer
- Provide and disclose all relevant information when requesting quotations from our office
- Arrange building valuations in accordance with the Owners Corporation Act 2006
- Advise our office of policy increases and decreases
- Provide disclosure requirements; Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Financial Services Guide (FSG)
As a Whitbread Authorised Representative, what I am not allowed to do?
As our Authorised Representative we do not provide you with the legal authorisation to give Personal Advice.
When owners require personal insurance advice or representation with the insurers then you will need to ask them to contact our office.
As the Strata industry becomes more complex and more competitive, Strata Managers will be expected to provide an improved level of service to their clients. The Authorised Representative model ensures that the best level of support is provided to enable Strata Managers to deliver this.
As one of Australia’s leading brokers of Strata Insurance, specialising in both residential and commercial properties, Whitbread Insurance Brokers has been providing broking services and expertise to the strata community for 35 years. Our aim is to help you manage risk so you can think beyond the day to day. For us, helping our Strata Managers is not just about protecting the ‘now’ – it’s about creating new possibilities for tomorrow.
If you would like more information on becoming a Whitbread Authorised Representative, please contact Lia de Sousa.