EAC meets with NSW Fair Trading and Work Cover about Asbestos

The real estate industry is becoming increasingly aware of the potentially far reaching effects of the “Mr Fluffy” loose fill asbestos issue, with Work Cover identifying 26 NSW Local Government areas currently at risk.

The problem confronting all agents and property managers is that the presence of loose fill insulation containing asbestos is a “Material Fact.”  Currently, affected properties must not be offered for sale or lease and agents have a clear responsibility to enquire from their client whether the property is insulated and if so what type.  . If the answer is “yes” or “not sure” to the presence of loose fill type then the client should obtain an inspection and report from a qualified asbestos assessor.

However, the “Mr Fluffy” issue has become a catalyst for the industry to discuss Asbestos and how agents and property managers are to deal with properties affected by it and what are the correct steps for them to take in enquiring about asbestos in the property.  This is particularly crucial since agent and property manager’s Professional Indemnity Insurance Policy does not cover the risks associated with asbestos related claims.

In January, Work Cover met with Estate Agents Co-operative Ltd, NSW Fair Trading and REINSW to discuss this issue.

During the meeting, discussion was had regarding the need to clearly outline to agents, property managers and consumers the steps that they need to take regarding asbestos in properties.  WorkCover will develop a factsheet regarding Asbestos, to tackle this need.  EAC will provide consultation on the content of this factsheet.

“The protection of agents, property managers, and consumers is paramount in this issue.  And whilst the WorkCover factsheet is necessary, it is very much a first step.  Agents and Property Managers cannot be expected to make a qualified assessment of whether asbestos is present in a property,” said Geoff Hunter, EAC Industry Liaison Officer.

Clear directions are crucial for the real estate industry in the dealing with asbestos.  Whilst the “Mr Fluffy” issue is of a great concern, it has aided in bringing to light how inadequate the procedures, for agents and property managers, in dealing with asbestos are.

The Estate Agents Co-operative will continue to work with Work Cover and NSW Fair Trading to lobby for any and all necessary changes to regulation and policy in order to ensure the protection of agents, property managers and the consumers.

New Insurance Offering for EAC Members

Estate Agents Co-operative Ltd and OAMPS have worked together to negotiate a new insurance offering for members of the Co-operative.

The Professional Indemnity insurance provides a broad range of coverage which enables agents to comply with their legislative requirements. In addition, the policy coverage also automatically extends to a number of key benefits:

  • Fidelity (Employee Theft) – cover included for no additional premium to a sub-limit of $100,000;
  • Employment Practices Liability – cover included for no additional premium to a sub-limit of $100,000;
  • Franchisor’s coverage – the policy extending to Franchisors as insured’s where they are joined to an action with the insured, or as a result of the insured actions;
  • Insurance Distribution Activities Extension – Cover is specifically extended to include distribution of insurance products as part of a Real Estate Agency’s activities. This is very relevant in the case of property management, where commonly agents provide insurance solutions or hold agencies with insurers to provide products for property owners, tenants or strata plans. With the changing landscape of strata requirements, this is especially prudent.
  • Referral Services Extension – Agents provide their client with a number of referral sources, be it property maintenance, tradespersons, conveyancing, building and pest inspections, mortgage brokers and many more. It could be alleged that the agent has a duty to perform due diligence on any persons or companies they recommend to their own clients. The policy cover extends to protect agents for their liability arising out of any allegations or claims arising from a referral relationship.
  • Bodily injury or property damage in any way is not excluded under the policy.  This is a common exclusion that relates to a primary exposure for agents, whether showing clients through open houses, hosting auctions or providing property management activities.
  • Legal costs are in addition to the policy limit, that is the limit is available for payments of any awards against the agent, rather than being used up by applicable legal defence costs;
  • Sub-Contractors and Consultants – the vicarious liability to the insured agency is covered for the actions of any sub-contractors and consultants;
  • Dishonesty of Employees – cover is provided to the agency for the actions of dishonest or fraudulent employees, provided such acts were not condoned by the Insured;
  • Minimum premiums for a Professional Indemnity cover of $1,000,000 in any one claim, with $3,000,000 in the Aggregate begin at $1,250 including all taxes, fees and charges.
  • Higher levels of cover are available as required.

We have also negotiated reduced rates for office insurance and public liability, as well as a policy for management liability cover for members in order to provide a holistic solution to their business needs.

EAC Director Anthony Chapman stated “I recently renewed my business insurance options using this new facility and I saved over a thousand dollars in premiums whilst getting superior cover at the same time.”

For more information, or to obtain a quotation, Members can speak with their local OAMPS branch, or contact Drew Ferns at OAMPS on 02 4226 8700.

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Estate Agents Co-operative Ltd

Professional Indemnity Insurance – Mandatory For All Licensees

The Property, Stock and Business Agents Amendment (Professional Indemnity Insurance) Regulation 2012 was published on 14th December 2012.

This long anticipated legislation requires that all licensees must be insured under a policy of Professional Indemnity Insurance in force in respect to the licensee or the licensee’s employer.

All policies must be for a minimum cover of $1M for any one claim and not less than $3M in the aggregate for all claims during the period of insurance and provide cover for specified types of liabilities.

This new regulation commences on 1 January 2013 but will not take effect until 1 July 2013 in order to provide sufficient time for licensees to obtain suitable coverage. Licensees who hold an existing policy, issued before 1 January 2013, will have until 1 January 2014, or to the expiry date of that policy to ensure their existing policy complies with the regulation.

For enquiries as to how this applies to your business operations please call Geoff Hunter, EAC Industry Liaison Officer on 1300 137 161 or Bruce McCluskey, OAMPS Insurance Brokers on (02) 42268700.