Premiums in spotlight ACCC sure forums will spark insurance reforms
THE Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is urging people to maintain the rage on high insurance costs by attending its forums and making submissions to its inquiry.
The regulator will hold its first public forum in Townsville tonight at the Hotel Grand Chancellor as part of a series of events which will take it from North Queensland’s east coast, to the red centre at Alice Springs and west to Broome and Karratha.
“My sense is people still have very strong feeling about this,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said ahead of the Townsville forum. “For a lot of people, particularly those on low incomes, the ( cost of the) premiums are really hurting.”
The commission released an issues paper last month which draws on several previous inquiries and reports. in- cluding figures showing the largest increases have occurred in North Queensland.
The Australian Government Actuary found average premium rates for strata properties increased 300 per cent between 2007 and 2012 in the North but only about 80 per cent for residential and contents policies in the same area.
The actuary found strata insurance at Darwin increased about 60 per cent in the three years to 2012- 13 and between 60 and 100 per cent for residential insurance in northern Western Australia in four years to 2015. It was found insurers had underpriced premiums compared with the risk from cyclones.
Ms Rickard said the ACCC was confident of making “strong recommendations” to address the issue but needed people to speak up.
“We are really hoping people from Townsville and the surrounding area will come and tell us their experience,” she said. “We really want onthe- ground experiences.”
The ACCC had a “big response” so far with about 80 submissions but Ms Rickard also understood people could be excused for thinking nothing would happen because past inquires had found insurance hikes had been justified.
“I wouldn’t blame people if they are over inquiries but we are a very determined organisation,” Ms Rickard said. “We are hopeful we can come up with a package of reforms that will make a difference.
“We are confident we will be able to make some strong recommendations. I’m not going to speculate at this stage on what those will be.”
The Townsville forum will be held at Hotel Grand Chancellor today from 5.30pm.
Other forums will be held in Cairns, Darwin, Alice Springs, Broome, Karratha and Rockhampton. The inquiry will run for three years with the commission to provide an interim report to the Federal Government in November next year.