ICA encourages Government review on Queensland building resilience

Building resilience in Australian homes has been a long discussed topic in the insurance world.

With the recent catastrophic flooding in Queensland and New South Wales earlier this year (February and March 2022), the conversation has only grown even stronger. 

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has welcomed the Queensland government’s independent review of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) to ensure homes in the state remain resilient to extreme weather. 

The independent review, ‘QBCC Governance Review 2022’, discusses developers’ role in the Queensland building and construction industry, and it aims to establish a steering committee to monitor and report on the progress of QBCC’s recommendations. 

The recommendations in the review have matched the ones made by the ICA in ‘Building a more resilient Australia’, a report outlining the need to improve protections for Australians from extreme weather risks. 

ICA CEO Andrew Hall has long been outspoken on the issue, and the need for more action from the Government. 

“As the regulator of the third-largest contributor to the Queensland economy, the Queensland Building and Construction Commission has an integral role to play in improving the resilience of Queensland homes to worsening extreme weather,” said Mr Hall. 

“The ICA and insurers are pleased with the recommendations of the independent review as it drives home the urgent need to improve resilience for homes, which will directly impact on premiums for at-risk communities.” 

The Queensland government made a statement saying it supports and is committed to addressing the independent reviewer’s findings to deliver reforms that reflect outcomes sought by recommendations and review. 

It also recognised that many of the specific actions needed are complex and will need further detailed analysis before deciding how to deliver on the recommendations’ intention. 

“The Queensland government is prioritising actions that strengthen the conflicts of interest framework, improve transparency, impartiality, fairness, and consistency in the QBCC’s decision-making processes,” it said. 

“Other priorities include separating the functions of the mediation, resolution, and review unit from the QBCC licensing and compliance functions, as well as ongoing staff training to deliver a regulator with a clear focus on outcomes and customer service.”

Credit: https://www.insurancebusinessmag.com/au/news/natural-catastrophe/ica-welcomes-review-on-queensland-resilience-411705.aspx


Nearly $1 billion paid to policyholders after 2022 floods

According to the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), almost $1 billion has been paid to policyholders after one of the most costly flood events occured in Queensland and NSW earlier this year. 

The ICA has increased the estimated insured losses for the disaster by 28% to $4.3 billion.

The only Australian catastrophes to cost more were the 1999 Sydney hailstorm ($5.57 billion), the 1974 Cyclone Tracy ($5.04 billion), and the 1967 Cyclone Dinah ($4.69 billion) on a normalised loss basis.  

The ICA had previously estimated $3.4 billion, however due to claims progression and an increase in larger commercial claims, the bill estimate has dramatically increased. 

Across NSW and QLD, there have been 216,465 claims, and more than a fifth of them are already closed. 

ICA CEO Andrew Hall says the government will have a role to play in ensuring that Australians can access insurance for future catastrophes. 

“Keeping Australia insurable as extreme weather events worsen requires governments to invest in appropriate physical mitigation and adaptation strategies,” ICA CEO Andrew Hall said.

From February 22 to March 9, intense rainfall struck Maryborough in Queensland down to Grafton in NSW. Many areas received more than half their average annual rainfall in just a week. NSW’s Lismore suffered devastating flooding as the Wilsons River exceeded the former record set in 1954 by over two metres.

As Australia continues to experience extreme weather events all across the country, it’s important to make sure that you are keeping your home and assets protected. 

Contact the team at Business Insurance Consulting to learn more about your home and business insurance today! 

Credit: https://www.insurancenews.com.au/local/almost-1-billion-paid-to-flood-claimants-so-far

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Increased fire danger in NT after record dry levels

Dry conditions in northern parts of Australia will increase bushfire threat in the region in the coming months, reports the Australian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council (AFAC).

AFAC’s Season Bushfire Outlook for Winter 2022 reports that NT areas surrounding the Gulf, Victoria River and Katherine regions will face fire risks above expected levels from June to August. 

“Our colleagues in the NT are preparing the landscape and the community for the dry season, with some locations near or at record dry levels over the past three months, which increases their fire risk,” AFAC CEO Rob Webb said. 

The report forecasts a wet winter season, with above average rainfall expected in the ACT and parts of Queensland and NSW, reducing the likelihood of fire threats in those areas. 

“We have seen significant rainfall this year for much of the country, and are expecting above average rain to continue through winter,” Mr Webb said. 

However, he warns that the decreased threat poses an additional risk for traditional fire seasons later in 2022.

“While this reduces fire potential for this season, it will increase grass and fuel as we move into spring and summer. Agencies will continue to monitor local conditions and manage risks accordingly.” 

AFAC warns that deadly fires could still occur in normal fire risk zones, and suggests that all Australians remain vigilant to fire threats. 

With the devastating floods that affected Queelsnad and NSW earlier this year, it’s even more poignant that Australians are taking measures to protect their homes and businesses. 

While the Government needs to be pushed to take action to ensure that there are proper mitigation measures, Australians need to ensure they are insured against extreme weather events. 

If you need help discussing your business or home insurance options, you can talk to the team at Business Insurance Consulting to explore your options today!

Credit: https://www.insurancenews.com.au/local/record-dry-levels-increase-fire-danger-in-nt

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The Benefits of Using Insurance Brokers

A recent podcast series hosted by Insurance News MD Andrew Silcox discussed the benefits of using brokers, rather than buying insurance directly. 

The podcast, Insurance with INsight, is produced by Insurance News in partnership with Vero, and discusses the results of the latest Vero SME Index. 

Each year the Vero SME Index measures the effectiveness of insurance and brokers who work with small to medium-sized businesses. 

The podcast considers statistics from the Index that show broker clients are far more likely to be satisfied with the claims process than those who buy insurance direct. 

This episode features contributions from Vero’s National Manager Commercial Property Claims Kira Pellicano and Gallagher Head of Claims Adam Squire.

The Index reveals that 63% of broker clients are satisfied with the result of their claims, compared to only 42% of direct buyers. 

“99% of the problems that we have in claims are because communication has failed,” Mr Squire says.

“If a client ever rings me and says, ‘I don’t know what’s going on with my claim’, we as an industry have failed. It’s as simple as that.”

Ms Pellicano says SMEs that tap into broker expertise have access to crucial support. 

“The added benefit is then when something does go wrong, you’re not on your own and you actually have support of an insurance professional through that claims process.” 

You can listen to the episode recording here. 

Using an insurance broker can be especially beneficial for businesses, as insurance can be complicated. Having someone who understands the details of a policy can help you better understand what level of cover you may need, and avoid certain errors in claims. 

Need help with your business or home insurance? Get in touch with the team at Business Insurance Consulting today for all your insurance needs. 

Credit: https://www.insurancenews.com.au/daily/sme-claims-podcast-highlights-benefits-of-using-brokers


Is Australia becoming uninsurable?

Earlier this year Queensland and NSW experienced extreme flooding, leaving many homes with significant damage. 

While extreme weather events are not a new phenomenon in Australia, the increased severity and frequency of them has been cause for major concern. 

A study released by the Climate Council says insurers are raising premiums to cover the increased cost of claims and reinsurance as the threat of extreme weather events grows, with the risk set to worsen unless Canberra starts acting swiftly to phase out burning coal and other fossil fuels. 

According to the report, Australia is now facing the prospect of becoming an “uninsurable nation”, with more than half a million homes (1 in 25 properties) forced to go without insurance cover in 8 years time because of climate change. 

“Climate change is creating an insurability crisis in Australia due to the worsening extreme weather and sky-rocketing insurance premiums,” the report, Uninsurable Nation: Australia’s Most Climate-Vulnerable Places, says. 

The report states that insurance will become increasingly unaffordable in major parts of the country, and there is also a possibility that insurers could decide that offering policies in high-risk areas is not viable. 

“We have a number of places in Australia where people are not insuring their homes because of cost,” Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie says. 

“So that means that those homes are effectively uninsurable.”

She further elaborates that the recent floods and the Black Summer bushfires are a “massive red flag” for the country. 

“Scientists have been saying for decades Australia is highly vulnerable to climate change risks and now we’re seeing it play out before our eyes,” Ms McKenzie said. 

According to the recent Climate Council report, NSW and Queensland account for seven of the top 10 list of federal electorates that are most vulnerable to climate change-fuelled extreme weather events such as floods and bushfires. 

The report says that about 15% of properties (165,646), or about one in every seven properties in the top 10 list will be uninsurable this decade.

These properties have projected annual damage costs equivalent to 1% or more of the property replacement cost, and are referred to as uninsurable, the report says. 

“Whilst policies might still be available, premiums are expected to become too expensive for people to afford,” it explains.

ICA has responded to the Climate Council report, with a spokesman saying that although there are some locations where there are affordability and availability concerns, there is no area of Australia that is uninsurable at present. 

“Insurance prices risk, and that means that for those in flood-prone or cyclone-prone locations, cover can be costly,” the spokesman said. 

ICA CEO Andrew Hall says that while no area is uninsurable, the question should more so be focussed on what needs to be done in these extremely high risk areas.  

“In some cases we have seen, particularly in these most recent floods, homes that are flooded three times in 10 years and so the question has to be asked ‘when you’ve got homes that are in harm’s way and are often being damaged catastrophically like this, what do we need to do’,” he said. 

Mr Hall says Australia needs to look at adaptation measures and mitigation investments to improve resilience and existing building standards. 

“We do have a problem in this country that we have got to simply address and that is more money has to go upfront to protect homes rather than in the clean-up.” he says. 

Mr Hall says an “extreme outcome” could involve relocating homes, buying the land and turning it into recreational or environmental areas. However, he adds on that people have to be given options if they choose to stay where they are. 

This “uninsurable nation” tagline has raised some debate within the industry. 

Many have said that this is an alarmist interpretation, but the report insists this is a make or break time for Australia’s insurability crisis. 

But one thing that cannot, or should not, be debated is that action must be taken on making this country more resilient to natural disasters.

If you have any questions or concerns about your home or business insurance, you can reach out to the friendly and knowledgeable team at Business Insurance Consulting! 

Source: https://www.insurancenews.com.au/analysis/uninsurable-nation-maybe-maybe-not-but-action-needed-either-way

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High level of underinsurance in flood affected areas

The Queensland and NSW floods have caused losses reaching an estimated $2.3 billion. This devastating extreme weather event has deeply impacted many families and businesses.

A survey conducted by the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has highlighted a significant level of underinsurance among the affected communities. 

The ICA reported on March 21st that insurers had received 153,769 claims, which is a 2% increase from the previous week’s figures. 

ICA also released results from a survey of more than 1000 people from three flood-prone areas in southeast Queensland and NSW. The survey found that 37% of respondents say they wouldn’t have enough insurance to rebuild. 

Two-thirds of respondents also stated they don’t believe governments are investing enough to properly protect homes and communities from extreme weather events. More than 90% of those respondents said the spending should at least double. 

From the survey the ICA reports that an astonishing 94% of people said there should be better controls on where homes are built so they are not at risk of flood. 

On affordability and availability constraint drivers, the survey finds 47% say flood cover can be difficult or expensive to obtain due to the risk of flood, one in five says it is driven by insurer profits and 11% cite climate change. 

“The Insurance Council has long called for greater investment in measures that better protect homes and communities from the impact of extreme weather,” ICA CEO Andrew Hall said. 

“This most recent flood has unfortunately brought this issue into sharp relief, and now those directly impacted have added their voices to this call.”

The ICA survey was conducted from March 11th-14th across the Northern Rivers, Western Sydney and Greater Brisbane regions. 

If you wish to discuss your home or business insurance options, you can contact Craig from Business Insurance Consulting. 

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 0412 212 099

Credit: https://www.insurancenews.com.au/local/flood-losses-rising-as-survey-shows-high-levels-of-underinsurance

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Personal hardship assistance extended to more flood-affected areas across South-East Queensland

On March 2nd, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) stated that insurers received 48,220 claims related to the flooding in South-East Queensland and the New South Wales coast. 

This was a 53 percent increase from the previous day’s claims count, and further demonstrated the significant impact from this event. 

37,807 of the claims were from Queensland, with the remainder from New South Wales. The New South Wales figures are expected to increase, as more policyholders return to their homes and businesses. 

Eight-four percent of the total claims relate to property, with the rest being motor vehicle claims. Insurers do not currently have an estimate of claims costs. 

The personal hardship assistance has been extended to more flood-affected individuals and families, as flooding continues to affect people across South-East Queensland. 

Grants are available through the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) for eligible flood-affected residents in Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Moreton Bay and Somerset. The personal hardship grants have also been extended to the entire Local Government Area of Gympie Regional Council, Fraser Coast and Sunshine Coast.

The Federal Minister for Emergency Management and National Recovery and Resilience Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie said that if eligible, the DRFA assistance would provide grants of up to a maximum of $900 for a family of five or more, or $180 per person. 

“These payments are designed to cover essential items such as food and clothing for people who are doing it tough as a result of the floods, in addition to the reconnection of essential services once it’s safe to return home.” 

“Areas affected by flooding in Brisbane and Logan are currently being assessed for the provision of personal hardship financial assistance and those assessments are being progressed as a matter of priority.” 

“Brokers are contacting their clients in affected areas and are offering their assistance,” said NIBA CEO Philip Kewin. 

“The Australian and Queensland governments continue to work closely to support ongoing recovery efforts and identify where further assistance is required to ensure all flooded communities have the assistance they need to get back on their feet.”

You can find more information on Personal Hardship Assistance and Essential Services Hardship Assistance here, or contact the Community Recovery Hotline 1800 173 349. 



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Insurers step up their commitment to tackling climate change

Allianz Australia has stepped up their climate commitment in 2021 by becoming the first insurer to join Climate League 2030. 

Climate League 2030 is a private sector-focussed 10-year initiative that aims to reduce Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the targets set by the Paris Agreement in 2015. 

The Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC) launched the initiative in October 2020, starting with investor participants. 

IGCC is a collaboration of both Australian and New Zealand investors focussed on the financial impact of climate change on investments. 

Supporting Climate 2030 means Allianz must commit to taking at least one new action each year that will make a demonstrable contribution to reducing Australian emissions. 

Allianz Australia MD Richard Feledy says the business is “proud” to be the first insurer to join the initiative.

“Allianz is committed to a net-zero emissions future and we are decarbonising our operations, insurance portfolio and investments to help us achieve that goal,” Mr Feledy said. 

“We believe climate risks are better mitigated when we collaborate with other organisations, industries and markets.”

“By joining initiatives such as Climate League, we hope to enable an orderly transition.” 

IGCC CEO Rebecca Mikula-Wright says hopefully more insurers will follow Allianz and join the initiative. 

“More and more investors, banks and insurers are now recognising that reducing emissions on a Paris-aligned pathway represents responsible action to secure a healthy economy for Australia,” she said.

“The Investor Group on Climate Change continues to support other organisations, including hopefully more insurance firms, to join Climate League to support a stronger 2030 national emissions reduction commitment, which will remain in focus in the lead up to COP27 in Egypt next year.”

Allianz also announced changes to reduce their ties with fossil fuels. They are removing thermal coal from proprietary investment and underwriting portfolios and in 2021 the insurer stopped insuring or investing in infrastructure facilities that derive more than half their revenue from thermal coal. 

From 2023, Allianz plans to no longer provide property & casualty insurance or make proprietary investments in companies that plan new coal mines, generate more than 25% of revenue from thermal coal mining, or produce more than 10 million tons of thermal coal annually. 

This focus on handling climate change is no new thing, and has been a hot topic in the insurance industry. 

After a turbulent year last year in terms of extreme weather events, Suncorp CEO Steve Johnston also made comments on the need to face this issue head on. 

“Call it La Nina, climate change, or just bad luck, it really doesn’t matter – the results and impacts are the same.” he said. 

“At a time when homeowners really need adequate home insurance, allowing tax revenue from insurance to keep growing due to climate change makes little economic sense.

“Pushing people out of the insurance market simply transfers the cost of the extreme weather event, and the one after, to the taxpayer.”

Mr Johnston said “climate change is an intergenerational challenge that must be tackled” by setting ambitious targets and providing support for industries and jobs impacted by the transition.

You can read more about what he had to say here

Australia continues to face extreme weather conditions each year. 

If you want to discuss your personal, home or business insurance, get in touch with us today! 


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Questions remain after cyclone reinsurance pool details are released

After announcing that they would be going ahead with the long-debated proposal, the Federal Government has quickly moved to develop a cyclone reinsurance pool. 

The draft legislation was released December 2021. It provided various details, but still left key questions regarding the pool unanswered. 

The two-week public consultation period on the draft bill closed on the 17th of December 2021, and the legislation is due to be introduced into Federal Parliament this year, and the pool is set to commence from July. This is ahead of the election due by late may this year. 

The pool will cover cyclone and related flood damage for claims that arise from the beginning of a cyclone until 48 hours after it ends. The cover includes wind, rain, rainwater, rainwater run-off, storm surge, and riverine flood damage. 

The Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation (ARPC) will administer the scheme, and based on advice from the Bureau of Meteorology they will declare an event. The initial announcements regarding the proposed pool had referred to a region above the Tropic of Capricorn, however the new material simply refers to “cyclones in Australia”, including offshore territories such as Norfolk Island. 

The eligible policies include, household property, residential and mixed-use strata, small business, charity and not-for-profit property policies, and farm residential policies. 

However there are certain restrictions. 

Business property policies would need to have sums insured of $5 million or less and strata and community title properties will be eligible where at least 80% of the total floor space of units are used mainly for residential purposes. Business marine cover remains a work in progress and is set to be included from the middle of 2023. 

This cyclone pool will be mandatory and insurers are expected to start entering into agreements with the ARPC from July. 

Large insurers have until December 31 next year to join the scheme, and small insurers have an extra 12 months to ensure all eligible risks are reinsured with the scheme. 

The pool will be funded by insurer premiums but the scheme is backed by a $10 billion annual Government guarantee. In the case of rare cyclone activity levels that draw down the available funds, the Government guarantee can be increased after talks involving the Prime Minister, Treasurer and Financial Minister. 

Premiums determined by the ARPC will be subject to actuarial review, and won’t include a profit margin. The pricing formula is set to be finalised before July and will use property-level data such as geography, building characteristics, and mitigation. 

Treasury says key principles for the formula include that it should lower the reinsurance cost for most policies with medium-to-high exposure to cyclone risk and have minimal impact on premiums for lower cyclone-risk properties. 

The treasury says it should also maintain incentives for risk reduction and offer discounts for properties that undertake mitigation. 

From July to June 30, 2025, the cyclone pool should cover the entire cost of eligible cyclone and related flood damage claims above the policyholder excess, “to support insurer transition and maximise the potential premium reductions through the pool”. 

After that time, the pool will operate on a risk sharing arrangement with the insurers, where the pool will continue to cover a significant proportion of eligible claims. 

Insurers will continue to manage any of the claims, while the policyholders will still be able to choose their insurer. 

“The scheme is expected to improve insurance access and affordability in cyclone-prone areas, build the financial capability of affected households and small businesses to recover from natural disasters, and support the economic resilience and development of cyclone-prone areas,” the Treasury paper says.

“The scheme is also expected to increase competition by encouraging greater insurer participation in cyclone-prone areas and support higher levels of insurance coverage by property owners.” 

Pricing and the pass-through of savings from the scheme will be monitored by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commision. The first review is scheduled for three years after it commences, and every five years thereafter. 

While the scheme is expected to commence in July this year, critical issues around the setting of premium pricing are still to be determined. Debate continues about the breadth of this cover, and the expected level of savings for policyholders remains unknown. 

You can read the draft legislation, along with further details here. 

Credit: https://www.insurancenews.com.au/analysis/cyclone-pool-details-revealed-but-questions-remain

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AFCA says there is no excuse for not disclosing your claims history

A couple has lost their claims dispute after failing to remember their previous claims history when purchasing an Auto & General motor policy. 

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has ruled that the oversight was a breach of the disclosure obligations and the insurer was entitled to decline the latest claim for damage to the couple’s vehicle. 

When purchasing their policy, the couple was asked how many claims they had made in the last five years. They indicated they were unsure whether it was one or two, and the insurer’s representative suggested that they disclose two claims. 

The couple should have disclosed four claims. If they had disclosed the full extent of their claims history, the insurer’s underwriting criteria would have ruled them out. 

“The complainants say they forgot about one of the non-recoverable claims,” the AFCA’s ombudsman said. 

“While this may have been the case, it does not change the outcome.”

“It is reasonable to expect a person to know their claims history. I do not accept forgetting means the claims history was not known to the complainants for the purpose of section 21A(5)(i) of the [Insurance Contracts] Act.”

The AFCA said that an innocent non-disclosure is still a non-disclosure, and therefore a breach of the complainant’s duty. 

“I am satisfied that, by failing to disclose two of the four claims the complainants had in the five years prior to policy inception, the complainants failed to comply with their duty of disclosure.”

“I am satisfied if the complainants disclosed their full claims history, the insurer would not have agreed to offer the policy and would not have insured the complainants.”

“Therefore, under section 28 of the Act, the insurer is entitled to reduce its liability to nil and refuse to pay the claim.” 

You can read the full ruling here.

Interested in a dedicated broker for your home or business? Contact us for your own specialised quote. 


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Worldwide losses from natural disasters on the rise

In 2021, natural disasters caused substantially higher losses worldwide when compared to the previous 2 years, according to the Munich Re 2021 Nat Cat report. 

From the data, Munich Re discovered that storms, floods, wildfires and earthquakes, and other extreme weather events destroyed assets totalling US$280 billion. This was a massive increase from US$210 billion in 2020, and US$166 billion in 2019. 

Only US$120 billion of the 2021 losses were insured, but this was up from US$82 billion in 2020 and US$57 billion in 2019. 

The United States accounts for a large share of these natural disaster losses in 2021, costing around US$135 billion. Tornadoes, tropical storms and deep freeze were the extreme weather events responsible for major losses in the USA in 2021. 

Torrential rainfall triggered severe flooding in Europe that resulted in devastating losses to local areas, especially in western Germany. Within the affected regions of Europe, this rainfall was the highest in over a hundred years. 

In the River Ahr in Rhineland-Palatinate, the flash flooding swept away countless buildings and severely damaged infrastructure, including railway lines, roads and bridges. The death toll was over 220 people. 

This natural disaster caused losses of US$%54 billion. 

In the Asia-Pacific, the losses from natural disasters remained modest in comparison. The overall economic loss was US$50 billion, with only US$9 billion being insured. 

This region accounted for 18% of overall losses, with the costliest from natural catastrophes being a severe flood in Henan Province in central China. 

Many rivers, including the Yellow River, burst their banks and hundreds of thousands of homes were flooded. 

Overall losses in the Asia-Pacific region totalled to US$16.5 billion, and only 10% of these were insured losses. 

Ernst Rauch, chief climate and geoscientist at Munich Re and head of the climate solutions unit, said the latest disaster statistics are striking as these extreme weather events are likely to only become more frequent or severe due to climate change. 

“Among these are severe storms in the USA, including in the winter half-year, or heavy rain followed by floods in Europe. For hurricanes, scientists anticipate that the proportion of severe storms and storms with extreme rainfall will increase because of climate change,” Rauch said.

“Even though events cannot automatically be attributed to climate change, analysis of the changes over decades provides plausible indications of a connection with the warming of the atmosphere and the oceans. Adapting to increasing risks due to climate change will be a challenge.”

Natural disasters in 2021 were devastating to many, and many scientists believe this will only get worse in 2022 and later as climate change continues to be a risk factor. 

Many of these catastrophic losses weren’t insured, and will leave families and businesses with long term impacts. 

If you want to discuss insurance for you or your business, get in touch

Credit: https://www.insurancebusinessmag.com/au/news/natural-catastrophe/munich-re-natural-disasters-losses-soar-in-2021-321577.aspx

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What You Need to Know About Cyber Threats

As the internet has become an even more integral part of our lives and businesses, cyber threats have become a more prevalent danger. 

Each and every day, cyber security incidents impact small businesses, large companies and individuals. 

These cyber threats can cause devastating results for many small businesses. 

Not every owner has the time or resources to effectively manage their cyber security, so this list includes a few tips to help protect your business from cyber attacks. 

Common Cyber Threats

In order to better protect yourself against a cyber security incident, it’s important to understand what the most common cyber threats are.

Malicious Software (Malware) 

Malware is software that is created to cause disruption or damage. It can include viruses, spyware, trojans and worms. 

Criminals can use malware to access confidential information, such as bank or credit card numbers, passwords, and other personal information.

Some types of malware can gain access and take control of a user’s computer, using this information to commit fraud or identity theft. This security risk can disrupt business, and risk the security of sensitive data and intellectual property. 

Malware creators can be located anywhere, as long as they have a computer and the technical skills, criminals can easily access cheap tools to use malware against you. 

Email Scams (Phishing)

Phishing emails are a type of scam where a criminal impersonates a legitimate organisation, such as a business, via email, text message or advertisement, in order to steal sensitive information. 

Often these criminals will pretend to be an individual or organisation you think you know and trust, in order to trick recipients out of their money and data. They may use official branding and logos to mimic businesses such as banks, and make themselves seem legitimate. 

The emails or calls will most often attempt to trick businesses and individuals into performing specific actions, including: 

  • Paying fraudulent invoices, or changing payment details on legitimate invoices
  • Reveal confidential information such as bank account details, passwords and credit card numbers
  • Give remote access to your computer, device or server, through opening an attachment that contains malware
  • Purchase gift cards and send them to the scammer

Phishing attacks are becoming more common, increasingly sophisticated and even more difficult to spot. 

Always be cautious regarding urgent requests for money, changes to bank accounts, unexpected attachments and requests to confirm login details. 

If you believe a message or call might truly be from an organisation you trust, you should find a reliable contact method to confirm. 

You can search for the official website or call their advertised phone number. Do not use the links or contact details supplied in the message you have been sent or given over the phone, as these could be fraudulent. 

You can also report suspicious emails and suspected scams to Scamwatch.


Ransomware is a type of malware that locks your computer or files down until a ransom is paid. This malicious software works by locking up or encrypting files so that you can no longer use and access them. This can sometimes result in your computer crashing. 

Ransomware can be picked up in the same ways as other malware, such as:

  • Visiting unsafe and suspicious sites
  • Opening links, emails or files from unidentified sources
  • Having poor security on your network, mobile devices and servers

It’s important that you never pay a ransom. Paying for the ransom does not guarantee that the files will be restored, and it won’t prevent the stolen data from being published or sold. 

Paying the ransom can actually increase the likelihood of being targeted again. 

If you experience a ransomware incident and need support, you can call the Australian Cyber Security Centre hotline on 1300 292 371, or report the incident via ReportCyber.

Ways To Protect Yourself

In order to protect yourself and your business it’s important that you are implementing some sort of strategy to manage your software, data and online accounts. 

This can protect your computer networks from attacks, and save you the trouble of dealing with online criminals. 

Here are just a few of the things you can do within your business to improve your cyber security. 

Automatic Updates

Keeping up to date with software updates is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your business from a cyber security incident. 

An update provides you with an improved version of software, whether it’s a program, app or your operating system. 

By setting your servers, computers and mobile devices up for an automatic update, you will get software improvements as soon as they are available, helping you prevent data breaches, and improving your information security. 

Updating to the newest version of a software can help reduce the chance of a cyber criminal using a known weakness to run malware or hack your device. 

Automatic updates can also just help make your life easier, saving you time. If automatic updates aren’t available, you should regularly check for new updates. You can also set a more convenient time for your updates to occur so that you reduce disruption to your business.

If you have antivirus or security software, you should always make sure these are set to update automatically. 

Automatic Backups

A backup is a copy of your most important information, such as customer details and financial records. You can save this either on an external storage device or to the cloud. 

Setting up automatic backup creates a ‘set and forget’ system that will backup your important information without the need for human intervention. 

You should disconnect and remove your backup storage device after each back to ensure it remains secure in the event of a cyber incident. 

Backing up is a precautionary measure to keep your data accessible if it is ever lost, stolen or damaged. It gives you the room to recover in the event of a cyber incident, and helps you get back on your feet faster. 

You should test your backups regularly, and keep at least one backup disconnected from your device. 

Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication is a security measure that requires two or more proofs of identity to grant you access to a device or account. 

This usually requires a combination of things:

  • Password, PIN, or security questions
  • Authenticator app, smart card, or physical token
  • A fingerprint or other biometric method

This can be one of the most effective ways to prevent unauthorised access to valuable information and accounts. 

These layers make it much more difficult for a criminal to attack your business. They might be able to steal your password, but obtaining the right combination of proofs of identity is much harder to accomplish. 

As a business you should implement MFA on all possible accounts, especially financial and email accounts. 

Access Control

Access control can help you limit access to your computer system. It can protect your business by restricting access to critical infrastructure such as; 

  • Files and folders
  • Apps
  • Databases
  • Inboxes
  • Online accounts
  • Networks

Most of your staff will not need to have full access to all data, accounts and systems to perform their job. You should restrict access to sensitive information where possible, so employees and external providers do not accidentally or purposefully endanger your business.

Having an access control system in place will allow you to;

  • Decide who needs access to files, databases and emails 
  • Control access permitted to external providers such as accountants, website hosting providers
  • Restrict access to social media and website accounts
  • Reduce damage if information becomes compromised
  • Revoke access if an employee changes roles or leaves the business

As a small business, typically the safest way is to give employees the bare minimum access and permissions they need to perform their job.


A passphrase is a more secure version of a password, and can be useful in situations where you can’t use multi-factor authentication. 

Passphrases consist of four or more random words that make up your password. For example, ‘milk bridge toenail soup’.

Passphrases are intended to be hard for cybercriminals to crack, but easy for you and your employees to remember. 

Your passphrase should be:

  • Long: the longer the better, but as a guide it should be a minimum of 14 characters
  • Unpredictable: use a mix of unrelated words, don’t use famous phrases, quotes or lyrics
  • Unique: don’t reuse your passphrase on more than one account

Employee Training

Employee training is a must when it comes to keeping your business safe from cyber attacks. You should teach yourself and your staff how to prevent, recognise and report a cybercrime. 

Your staff should know the basics, such as how to update their devices, secure their accounts and identify scam emails. 

You may also want to implement a cyber security incident response plan so your employees have a guide in the event of a cyber incident.

This will help you understand what your critical devices are, and what processes need to be in place. 

Employees can be the first line of defence against a cyber threat, so training will help change habits and behaviour to ensure cyber security is everyone’s responsibility. 

Regular awareness training is going to help keep your business safe. Scams and cyber attacks are only getting more sophisticated, and evolving as things change. Keeping your staff up to date on the latest cyber security threats could be the difference between a criminal gaining access to your vital data. 

Keep Your Business Safe

These steps should help you understand more about what cyber threats are, and some of the strategies you can use to protect yourself. 

Unfortunately, this does not mean that you will always be able to protect yourself or your business from the increasingly clever cyber threats. 

If you’re considering Cyber cover for your home, or business, contact us today for a specialised quote.

Email: [email protected]

Credit: https://www.cyber.gov.au/acsc/view-all-content/publications/small-business-cyber-security-guide

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Action on home resilience needed to minimise impact from cyclones

$23 billion in claims costs have been generated by cyclones since 1967. 

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) says homes are not resilient enough, and the risks are expected to rise with climate change. The impacts from these extreme weather events are set to worsen unless action is taken. 

According to a report prepared by the James Cook University Cyclone Testing Station in association with Risk Frontiers, changes need to be made to the design methods and criteria for new homes to avoid an increase in the already high impacts and losses.

The report recommends that the National Construction Code should consider resilience in new property construction as well as life safety. It suggests that federal and state governments should support the development and expansion of schemes for existing homes, like the North Queensland Household Resilience Program. 

ICA CEO Andrew Hall says the National Construction Code needs to consider resilience for all new property construction if all of Australia is to remain insurable. 

“Australia’s modern houses are not resilient to the tropical cyclone hazard of today,” 

“Implementation of stronger building codes and retrofitting programs, improved land-use planning, and permanent physical mitigation measures, where necessary, will be key to ensuring an insurable Australia.” 

Australia’s most costly natural disaster was Cyclone Tracy, which hit Darwin in 1974. The cycle generated a $5.5 billion insurance bill, normalised to 2017 values. 

Recent cyclones in North Queensland, such as Yasi, Marcia and Debbie have cost $3.83 billion in insurance costs. 

The National Construction Code is updated every three years, and the next revision is due late 2022. Decisions on any updates are administered first through the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB). The ABCB is made up of state and territory government representatives, the Australian Local Government Association and seven industry reps. 

“The ABCB are considering resilience initiatives and programs,” an ICA spokeswoman said. “It’s expected that consideration will take an extended period.”

If any National Construction Code amendments are made, it will still be up to each state and territory to decide whether they adopt the changes. 

The cyclone report also includes recommendations for building codes to be updated to address water ingress issues, as well as a public awareness campaign to promote regular maintenance on vital home features. 

The ICA report also suggests that it is time to invest in more fixed and mobile weather stations, and an Australian Historical Tropical Cyclone Footprint database should be developed to represent land wind speeds.

“A nationally consistent asset register could assist in improving data quality regarding housing construction type, wall construction, roof type, year of construction, renovations and retrofitting works,” the cyclone report says.  

“This information is essential for the owner of the home or future buyers as well as emergency services, insurers and banks.”

This cyclone report is the second in ICA’s Climate Change Impact Series. It follows a study released last month on the impact of actions of the sea, and there are plans for a final report on floods to be released. 

RACQ Group Executive Insurance Tracy Green says the report is a vital resource for explaining the growing risk of cyclones. 

“Australia needs insurance to be sustainable and affordable and this report complements the growing amount of evidence that investment in resilience and future-proofing our assets is long overdue,” she said. 

You can find the report here.

Credit: https://www.insurancenews.com.au/daily/cyclone-impacts-set-to-worsen-without-action-on-home-resilience-ica?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20insuranceNEWScomau&utm_content=Daily%20insuranceNEWScomau+CID_104083c4a61267ca59686b5cfcf16410&utm_source=EmailCampaign&utm_term=Cyclone%20impacts%20set%20to%20worsen%20without%20action%20on%20home%20resilience%20ICA

Adverse Weather

Adverse Weather Events to The Sum of $35 Billion For Australians

In the past ten years alone adverse weather events have cost Australians $35 billion. This figure has doubled since the 1970’s and is only set to rise. Having large implications not only for everyday Australians but also for business owners. Making it increasingly important to obtain business insurance with an adequate level of cover.

The harsh impacts of climate change and rising sea levels is set to cost our economy $100 billion per year, according to a recent report by the Climate Council. The cost of extreme weather events is set to rise rapidly, increasing the value of insurance products.

The council specifically said the world is transitioning into a “decisive and transformative” time for climate action. Immediate action needs to be taken to ensure Australia can halve emissions by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2040.

The council also mentioned that Australia has a lot to lose from climate change induced extreme weather events. On the other hand, we will see a great benefit from the zero-carbon economy. From being one of the largest exporters of fossil fuels to becoming a global leader in clean industries and renewable energy. Success is the only option.

Did you know that Australian are five times more likely to become displaced from a disaster caused by climate change than individuals residing in Europe? The cost of climate change for Australians will rise even further in the coming decades, projected to surpass $100 billion p.a by 2038.

The past few years we have experienced a “era of megafire” throughout Australia and also globally. These disasters including floods, fires and storms caused economic losses of $272 billion in 2020.

General Manager at Risk Frontiers Andrew Gissing advocates insurance having an important role in managing the increase in natural disasters.

Any business owner who isn’t confident that they are adequately insured for adverse weather events may want to consult an insurance broker, such as Craig at Business Insurance Consulting. A broker can analyse relevant product disclosure statements and find the optimum insurance for your business.

Gissing told insuranceNews.com.au that “climate change will see the potential for more frequent extreme weather events and with that a rise in average annual losses associated with those”

He goes on to say that minimising the risk is essential, by reducing the impacts of climate change and reducing carbon emissions.

This will lead to more affordable insurance for everyday Australians as well as Australian business owners. Creating a positive outcome for all parties involved.

There have been calls from the insurance industry for a while for reform and action nationally by both Australians and the Australian Government. With some action being taken already by various states and territories.

Craig at Business Insurance Consulting can assist you with any queries in regard to adequate insurance, for your business, in the event of adverse weather.

Public liability insurance

When and Why You Need Public Liability Insurance for Small Business

If you are a small business owner that makes or sells products or interacts with the general public, it is important to consider obtaining public liability insurance. Lawsuits could have a detrimental effect on any industry if a business isn’t adequately insured. 

Public Liability Insurance 

This type of insurance covers general negligence, causing injury, as a result of your business. It is designed to protect your business against claims from accidents or injuries as well as accidental damage to property owned by someone else. A business owner or sole trader is accountable for customers, suppliers and anyone else who has involvement in the business. This should not be confused with professional indemnity insurance, which covers negligence in your business’ service.

If an accident or injury occurs your business may be liable for hefty legal fees as well as covering the cost of the damage or injury caused. If you are conducting business activities in public spaces, have people visit your work premises, work at other people’s premises or even manufacture goods your business may have legal liability in the event of damage or personal injury. Public liability insurance is the best defence against property damage or personal injury. 

Examples of claims:

A small toy business makes a toy that has a sharp edge and injuries a child playing with it. The parent may then make a claim against the toy business for the injury caused by the defective toy. 

If the toy business didn’t have public liability insurance they may have to foot the bill for legal fees and any other compensation.

A shop owner cleans their floors. It is mostly dry besides a small patch. A patron then enters the store and slips. The patron may make a claim against the business in the case of injury. 

This is another example where it is important to have the correct amount of public liability insurance cover for any legal fees and compensation.

Level Of Cover

Having an adequate level of insurance cover for your business needs is vital. Many events that occur leading up to claims being made towards businesses are unforeseen. Being sued for negligence can be costly to your business and have long-lasting negative impacts. It is important to find out exactly how much cover your business needs, as some industries require a certain level of cover in order to legally operate.

The Real Cost Of Public Liability

Although public liability insurance is not compulsory, by law, in Australia, some industries and occupations require business owners to obtain a policy. Depending on where you live you may be required to have public liability insurance in order to operate. 

If you hire a public venue you may also be required to obtain a policy in order to hire the space. Public liability insurance provides you with peace of mind in the unfortunate event of an accident or injury to another person in your workspace. Not having adequate cover could have a costly effect on your business. It may be in your best interest to engage with a business insurance consultant to decipher what kind of policy would suit your business.

Engaging With A Business Insurance Consultant

Public liability insurance cover is commonly purchased with the assistance of insurance brokers who specifically specialise in business insurance. Business insurance professionals have the ability to find a policy to suit your specific needs. They have the skills to negotiate insurance policy contracts and review relevant product disclosure statements.

Business Insurance Consulting offers a highly professional service for your business liaising with insurance companies, providing you with insurance quotes and can assist in finding you the right level of cover. If you have any enquiries regarding business insurance or to discover the optimum cover for your business contact Craig at Business Insurance Consulting today.