Mayors call for govt to act on spiralling insurance costs
Queensland councils are calling for federal insurance support for homeowners and businesses amid skyrocketing premiums across northern Australia.
File photo of waves crashing on the Cairns waterfront during Cyclone Yasi. North Queensland is bracing for Cyclone Gabrielle which has formed off the coast but is not expected to make landfall.(Photo: ABC)
Premiums have shot up by 178 per cent in northern Australia in the past decade, compared to 52 per cent in the rest of country, according to an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) report released in December.
Local Government Association of Queensland president Mark Jamieson said 62,000 properties in the state’s north were uninsured, with 95 per cent of owners citing cost as the reason.
Jamieson, who represents 77 councils, said that was unacceptable and there should be a federal reinsurance pool for regions that are highly vulnerable to natural disasters like northern Australia.
“So their communities are not unfairly burdened, and we support their call,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We urge the federal government to work with the councils as leaders of their communities to ensure an effective scheme is implemented before the next disaster season.”
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said the cost of insurance was prohibitive for homeowners, renters, businesses and body corporates in northern Australia.
“In some cases, lack of availability of insurance, is seriously impacting communities,” she said.
Hill said a reinsurance pool already existed through the Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation, set up by the Howard government in 2003 to address a previous instance of market failure.
“The insurance market in northern Australia has clearly failed and it’s time for a national reinsurance pool,” she added.
Whitsundays Mayor Andrew Willcox said he was frustrated the findings from the ACCC report don’t go far enough.
He noted that as well as homeowners, businesses like tourism and marine operators were facing prohibitive premiums as well.
“We are advocating for the federal government to underwrite cyclone insurance for north Queensland to bring our premiums in line with the rest of Australia,” he said.