How you can help with the bushfire recovery process

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How you can help with the bushfire recovery process

Our hearts go out to all the communities that have suffered and continue to suffer from the bushfire crisis that has been going on since early September. In particular, we pause to think about the tragic loss of life and those who have lost property and businesses. They remain constantly in our prayers.

Whilst fires continue to burn in many areas, large parts of the communities are now starting their recovery phase and the federal government and various state governments have all promised significant funds to help the recovery process.

Aside from the mental health and anguish that these fires caused, the Property recovery process will be long and expensive. Whilst insurance losses are currently estimated in excess of $1 billion, we believe this will more than double over the next couple of months. In addition, there will be at least as much property damage that is uninsured that still needs to be rebuilt or repaired as well.

However money alone won’t help these communities. They need “boots on the ground” and this is where the clients of Action Insurance Brokers may be able to help. For any of you who are involved in building or construction, civil engineering, land clearing or any of the trades that work within these fields, you can register to offer to provide work in these bushfire affected areas.

The Insurance Council of Australia has a disaster recovery database for all trades who are interested in providing business services. This register is not necessarily for volunteers but is for businesses who can help with the rebuilding process and charge for their services. Follow the link below if you are interested in registering your business: -

https://disasters.org.au/trades-register

Governments, insurers and all relevant stakeholders have access to this database and can locate you and seek your assistance in the rebuilding process.

Action Insurance Brokers will continue to provide whatever support it can to affected parties and we support this initiative from the Insurance Council of Australia.

GOVERNMENTS URGED TO ACT ON BUILDING CERTIFIER INSURANCE CRISIS

Construction industry leaders met in Canberra this week to urge the Federal, State and Territory Governments to act now to address the building certifier insurance crisis that has potential to bring building and construction activity to a halt.

Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders Australia said, “The leader of Master Builders Associations from around the country are gravely concerned. Up to 30 per cent of insurance renewals for building certifiers and surveyors may not be renewed as early as July and construction activity will grind to a halt if a solution is not found urgently.”

NIBA CEO, Dallas Booth has attested that a crisis is certainly developing in relation to professional indemnity insurance for building certifiers and surveyors. He pointed out that Michael Bleby in the Australian Financial Review today references PwC data which suggests that this sector has been unprofitable for insurers since 2011, and that in 2017 insurers paid out $3.43 in claims for every $1 received in premiums.

Booth said, “On this basis, ‘the status quo’ is clearly not tenable, and it is not surprising at all that insurers are withdrawing from the market. Governments, building industry professionals, insurers and insurance brokers need to work on this issue very quickly.

“The true cause for claims payments of this nature has to be identified and dealt with, so the insurance community can do what it is supposed to do: provide cover for what might go wrong, not what almost certainly will go wrong. Only by fixing the cost of claims will a viable insurance market be able to return.”

He confirmed that NIBA is ready and willing to provide expertise to any discussions on these important matters.

Wawn explained that insurers as a result of a number of fires around the world, including the Grenfell fire in the UK, have elevated risk ratings on cladding affected buildings. They are declining to provide professional indemnity insurance, offering it with unacceptable exclusions or asking for unaffordable premium increases for building certifier professional indemnity renewals. As a result, certifiers who are needed to sign-off new buildings are being forced to close up shop.

“The problem is already causing delays to building projects across the country and will only get worse as more insurers withdraw from the market,” she said.

“Master Builders wrote to Building Ministers in April seeking action ahead of the July deadline and now we need all governments to come together now to manage what has become a risk for the whole industry caused by the use of combustible cladding on some buildings,” She concluded.

“Master Builders around the country are also calling for governments to speed up implementation of recommendations in the Shergold-Weir Building Confidence report to improve access to and the reliability of regulatory requirements for the building and construction sector,” Denita Wawn said.

Source: "Insurance & Risk" magazine.

 

NSW budget: ICA issues warning on rising insurance taxes

credit InsuranceNews.com.au
18 June 2019

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) says revenue from “inequitable” NSW insurance taxes and levies will rise by 5.4% per year over the next four years, placing an “unfair burden” on policyholders.

While welcoming much of today’s NSW budget for “solid operating surpluses, fiscal responsibility and strong infrastructure spending”, ICA CEO Rob Whelan warns against “continued over-reliance on both the Emergency Services Levy (ESL) and stamp duties”.

“Revenue from insurance stamp duties and the ESL will soar by 5.4% a year over the next four years, reaping $8.6 billion, compared with annual inflation of 1.3%,” he said.

“From July 1, NSW households will typically be paying more than 50% in taxes on insurance (GST, plus 9% stamp duty, plus the ESL) on renewals and new policies.

“As a result, typical household premiums will rise by $60-$100 this year.”

He says many small businesses and primary producers will be hit hardest.

“The combination of GST, stamp duty and ESL will result in these sectors paying up to 70% in taxes on their insurance policies.”

ICA urges the NSW Government to restart ESL reforms, which were abandoned in May 2017.

“Stamp duties and the ESL are a significant cause of non-insurance and underinsurance in the community.

“More than 848,000 NSW families (about 30%) do not have household (home or contents) insurance – Australia’s second-worst non-insurance rate after the NT.

“The ICA and its members would welcome consultation on an all-of-government approach to removing unfair taxes and levies on insurance and ensuring fairer taxation models are designed and implemented.”

The National Insurance Brokers Association (NIBA) says for the 2019/2020 financial year, the ESL alone will raise $895 million, a 14% increase from the previous corresponding period.

NIBA says budget papers indicate a further 22% increase in the ESL for the 2020/2021 financial year.

CEO Dallas Booth says the increases are “a massive burden being carried by responsible property owners who take out insurance to cover themselves if a major loss occurs”.

“Every independent examination of this levy since the HIH Royal Commission has recommended its abolition,” he said today.

“It is totally unfair and inequitable that the emergency services are funded by insurance policyholders, and not by property owners more broadly.”

NIBA says it is seeking a meeting with the NSW Treasurer to “press these concerns on behalf of its members and their clients”.