Talking to insurance companies about infrastructure projects that ease the impact of extreme weather could see premiums reduced and make regional Queensland a more affordable place to live, the state opposition says.
Pointing to an ACCC report that found home, contents and strata insurance premiums are considerably higher in northern Australia than the rest of the country, Opposition leader David Crisafulli said mitigation measures like flood levees should help reduce costs.
“If we aren’t serious about the spike in insurance, and the fact that we’ve all got to do something on it, people simply won’t be able to live and make a living in regional Queensland,” he said.
For residents of the regional town of Roma, Mr Crisfulli said insurance companies followed through with a promise to reduce rates after a levy was built.
“There were people in Roma who were rolling the dice who could no longer afford insurance, who today do have insurance, they’ve also got a mighty big wall protecting them as well.”
He also took aim at the insurance sector practice of charging more for paying premiums in instalments.
“If they do nothing else today as an industry they should say no more, if you want to pay monthly you can do so, and you do so without incurring extra fees,” he said.
“Most councils do that, most governments do that, most businesses do that, and for them to be milking people dry on a fundamental right to insure your property is a disgrace.”
ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said there were genuine reasons why premiums were more expensive in northern Australia as the risk of extreme weather is higher, and it can be costly for insurers to service the region.
“However, different insurers can quote vastly different premiums for the same property,” she said.
“While many consumers could save by switching, it is harder than it should be for consumers to shop around.”
The ACCC recommends governments use direct subsidies in a targeted way to relieve severe financial pressure faced by households in specific areas. This would cost less and be more effective than other measures like government reinsurance pools.
Other recommendations to provide immediate help include abolishing stamp duty on home insurance or – if it is maintained – that it be based on the sum insured for a property rather than the cost of the premium.