PLAN TO TACKLE NORTH’S SKY­ROCK­ET­ING IN­SUR­ANCE

In­surer claims premi­ums to drop with pro­gram to cy­clone- proof dwellings

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - AN­THONY GAL­LOWAY an­thony. gal­loway@ news. com. au

A GOV­ERN­MENT- funded retro­fit pro­gram to bet­ter pro­tect North Queens­land homes against cy­clones is the best way to re­duce soar­ing in­sur­ance premi­ums, a study has found.

Sun­corp will to­day launch the Build to Last re­port, a joint ini­tia­tive with James Cook Univer­sity’s Cy­clone Test­ing Sta­tion and con­sul­tant Ur­bis, which found a retro­fit pro­gram would de­liver wide rang­ing so­cial and eco­nomic ben­e­fits.

It comes as home­own­ers in the North are pay­ing up to 800 per cent more on their in­sur­ance premi­ums than those in south­east Queens­land since Cy­clone Yasi.

The Build to Last re­port’s find­ings in­clude:

For ev­ery dol­lar spent on low- cost retrofits, the com­mu­nity will save at least $ 3;

In­stalling strap­ping on re- placed roofs could de­liver about $ 12 for ev­ery dol­lar spent and

Many low- cost retrofits would pay for them­selves af­ter one Yasi- like cy­clone.

Sun­corp is now call­ing on the Fed­eral and State gov­ern­ments to im­ple­ment a retro­fit- ting pro­gram, in­clud­ing roof up­grades, door retrofits and win­dow pro­tec­tion.

Sun­corp Per­sonal In­sur­ance chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Milliner said his com­pany would re­duce premi­ums by 20 per cent for North Queens­land homes that were retro­fit­ted.

“We’ve laid out the pro­gram of work – what we’re ask­ing gov­ern­ments at all lev­els is to fund this go­ing for­ward,” he said. “The re­port shows clearly that cy­clone re­silience is smart for the home­owner, smart for gov­ern­ment and smart for the whole re­gion. It makes good eco­nomic and so­cial sense.

“Be­yond the clear eco­nomic ben­e­fits, there would be in­valu­able so­cial out­comes like the re­duced risk of men­tal health im­pacts, death and in­jury.”

Cy­clone Test­ing Sta­tion di­rec­tor David Hen­der­son said the re­port’s find­ings were the cul­mi­na­tion of months of pol­icy and claims anal­y­sis.

“We re­viewed thou­sands of Sun­corp in­sur­ance poli­cies and claims from Cy­clone Larry ( 2006) and Yasi ( 2011) and found there was a greater per­cent­age of older hous­ing that suf­fered sig­nif­i­cant struc­tural dam­age com­pared to hous­ing built to to­day’s wind- load stan­dards,” Dr Hen­der­son said.

“The anal­y­sis shows pre­vent­ing such fail­ures through a retro­fit pro­gram will greatly im­prove our com­mu­nity’s re­silience, sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the size and num­ber of claims and have a pos­i­tive ef­fect on pre­mium prices in North Queens­land.”

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