The recent passage through Parliament of the Treasury Laws Amendment (Putting Members’ Interests First) Act 2019 (the PMIF) will require all RSE licensees to cease the provision of insurance to members on an opt-out basis where:
a) the member has an account balance below $6,000 (active low balance accounts); or
b) the member is a new member who is under the age of 25.
The PMIF reforms build on the Treasury Laws Amendment (Protecting Your Superannuation) Act 2019 (the PYSP) that was passed by the Government in March 2019. Both reforms are intended to protect members’ account balances from erosion from insurance premiums for cover that members may not want or need.
The Government has indicated to APRA that it will pursue amendments to the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (SIS Act) to ensure the Government’s original policy intent is achieved in a number of areas that have been raised by industry. APRA understands the Government will seek to amend the SIS Act to provide that:
a) the legislative requirements allow for the aggregation of a member’s interest in one or more products held within a superannuation account;
b) the rights of members under fixed term insurance cover are not affected, so that this type of insurance cover is not removed. Legacy products providing fixed term insurance cover that do not receive ongoing contributions are not intended to be subject to these reforms. This may affect conventional products where the switching off of cover would have a demonstrable adverse financial effect on the member, such as products that are already fully paid up or non-premium paying, whole of life and endowment products; and
c) a member’s election to maintain insurance cover under the PYSP reforms is considered to be a valid election under the PMIF reforms, and vice versa.
The PMIF reforms also permit RSE licensees to make an election to maintain or take out insurance on an opt-out basis for members employed in a ‘dangerous occupation’. The election is required to be made in writing, starts on the day it is submitted to APRA, and must be published on the RSE licensee’s website. The RSE licensee may also withdraw the election by written notice to APRA. The process for submitting elections and withdrawing dangerous occupation exception elections can be found below. RSE licensees should further consider how they communicate the consequences of the election to affected members.
APRA has been working closely with other regulators in relation to the implementation of the legislation, including identification of implementation issues and development of guidance for the industry. We encourage RSE licensees to consider ASIC’s 30 October 2019 letter to industry and its expectation that communication with members about the reforms are balanced, factual and include appropriate context about the reforms, and that these communications are tailored to the needs of members.
To assist industry, APRA has developed Frequently Asked Questions to provide general guidance on the reforms and has established a dedicated email address, PMIF@apra.gov.au, to which any specific implementation questions can be directed. RSE licensees are also encouraged to raise any issues with their APRA Supervisor.
For more information
If you are from an APRA supervised institution, contact your APRA Responsible Supervisor.