Re­sort threat­ened by un­fair in­sur­ance

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - BUSINESS - PAUL MIL­TON BUT­LER

IN­SUR­ANCE com­pa­nies are shun­ning busi­nesses in the Dou­glas re­gion based on our post­code.

Mai Tai Re­sort in Cas­sowary, one of the most lux­u­ri­ous re­treats in the Far North, faces the pos­si­bil­ity of clos­ing its doors be­cause the own­ers can­not se­cure pub­lic li­a­bil­ity in­sur­ance.

It is the lat­est ex­am­ple of ridicu­lous fees and reg­u­la­tions be­ing im­posed on small busi­nesses to be high­lighted as part of the Gazette’s Save Our Small Busi­nesses cam­paign.

While pub­lic li­a­bil­ity in­sur­ance is com­pul­sory for Mai Tai Re­sort, own­ers An­thony Roxburgh and An­dre de Walsche have been un­able to find an in­sur­ance com­pany will­ing to of­fer cover for less than 400 per cent more than their ex­ist­ing pol­icy.

The in­sur­ance com­pa­nies cited the re­gion’s 4877 post­code as too risky due to cy­clones and other nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.

“I called some of the big­gest in­sur­ance com­pa­nies in Aus­tralia and as soon as I said my busi­ness was in Port Dou­glas they al­most hung up in my ear, they did not want to know me,” Mr Roxburgh said.

“When they asked me where my busi­ness was they said straight out to me . . . ’No, we won’t touch you’.

“It has be­come a lu­di­crous sit­u­a­tion, the law says I have to have in­sur­ance but the in­sur­ance com­pa­nies will not in­sure me - or they will but then they make the pre­mi­ums so ex­pen­sive you sim­ply can­not af­ford them.

“I’m a small B&B owner who has six rooms - I can have a max­i­mum of 12 peo­ple only - and my premium has gone from $2500 to over $10,000 - and that is the cheap­est quote if I ac­cept it.”

Des­per­ate, Mr Roxburgh called Queens­land La­bor Se­na­tor Jan Mclu­cas’s of­fice and said he was met with an in­dif­fer­ent re­sponse to his very real prob­lem in try­ing to com­ply with the law by in­sur­ing his busi­ness.

“Se­na­tor Mclu­cas’s aid told me, ’While I sym­pa­thise with your predica­ment there is noth­ing I can do for you be­cause you are a pri­vate busi­ness and you need call the ACCC and lodge a com­plaint with them’,” Mr Roxburgh said.

The Bris­bane branch man­ager of Mai Tai Re­sort’s cur­rent in­surer AIB Aus­tralia John Duig­nan said: “While we can­not dis­close in­for­ma­tion about any one client peo­ple just have to con­tact their bro­ker and get the best deal they can.”

In­sur­ance Coun­cil of Aus­tralia gen­eral man­ager Karl Sul­li­van blamed the global in­sur­ance mar­ket be­cause it was “see­ing Aus­tralia as a bad risk”.

“Any­one in Far North Queens­land is just seen as too risky to in­sure,” Mr Sul­li­van said.

In the mean­time Mr Roxburgh, who has a sound busi­ness and has in­vested a lot of money and hard work over the past eight years, faces the very real prospect of hav­ing to close his doors if he can­not get a bro­ker to in­sure him at a fair price.

Photo by NEIL WEAVERS

Frus­trated: Mai Tai Re­sort’s An­dre de Walsche

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