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Affordability

Why is insurance affordability so important? 

Insurance plays an essential role in the economy, and affordable insurance is central to resilient communities.

Our members recognise that access to appropriate levels of insurance cover is a crucial to supporting our communities and national economic recovery and growth.

Committed to addressing affordability

Insurers share a commitment to addressing insurance affordability and availability over the short and long-term and the ICA works closely with all levels of government and consumers to help communities understand risk and work towards practical and meaningful solutions.

Why have some premiums been rising?

Insurance prices reflect the level of risk within a given market. Different types of insurance will therefore be priced differently. 

Generally speaking, premiums tend to be lower and stable where there is competition, freely available reinsurance and known risk factors. As insurance works by pooling risk, insurers cannot have a concentrated exposure to any one source of risk and the level of premiums is one way they can manage their exposure.

In recent years, our changing natural environment has impacted the cost of insurance in parts of Australia. Catastrophic natural events have damaged or destroyed property worth tens of billions of dollars. This has been most recently visible in the Australian bushfires of 2019-20 and floods of 2021 and the increasing frequency of these events poses long-term questions for the insurance industry and the Australian community.

Reviews into insurance affordability

Two prominent reviews have taken place into insurance affordability in the last two years:

  • ACCC Northern Australia Insurance Inquiry  
  • Role of the Private Insurance Market –Independent Strategic Review: Commercial Insurance

ACCC Northern Australia Insurance Inquiry

Concentrated impact in northern Australia

Catastrophic natural events impact different parts of Australia in different ways. In northern Australia, the increasing scale and frequency of claims due to cyclones and flood has raised costs and rendered the insurance market unprofitable over a long period of time.  This focus was the subject of recent reports, including:

  • ACCC Northern Australia Insurance Inquiry(released in December 2020)

Findings of ACCC Northern Australia Insurance Inquiry 

Over three years, the ACCC conducted a wide-ranging inquiry into the supply of residential building, contents and strata insurance in northern Australia.

The final report, released in December 2020, concluded that “the higher risk of natural disasters in northern Australia is driving higher premiums” and suggested that “reforms to land use planning and building standards may offer the best hope for achieving sustainable and equitable improvements to insurance affordability in northern Australia in the future.”

Role of the Private Insurance Market – Independent Strategic Review: Commercial Insurance

An independent report was commissioned by the Insurance Council of Australia and led by industry expert John Trowbridge in collaboration with economist Michael Blythe. A draft was released in May 2021 and the final report, including 13 recommendations, was released on 20 September 2021.

The final report concluded that in the context of a hardening insurance market there is no one-size-fits-all solution to issues of affordability and availability for small business sectors, and that solutions require collaboration and goodwill between the insurance sector, the SME sector, and governments.

The Review’s recommendations broadly fall into three categories: improved engagement between insurers and the SME sector; better understanding of insurance by SME policyholders; and advocacy to government and transparency. The ICA supports all recommendations of the Review.

Submissions to the ICA

Access submissions to the ICA for the ‘Role of the Private Insurance Market –Independent Strategic Review: Commercial Insurance’

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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. 

Credit: 

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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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https://www.insurancenews.com.au/corporate/allianz-steps-up-climate-commitment
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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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