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State calls on insurers to cut premiums for flood mitigation

The Queensland Government has written to the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) calling on insurers to cut premiums for householders who reduce flood risk.

Community Recovery and Resilience Minister David Crisafulli says discounts should be offered to people who raise their houses above flood levels, do not build under stilt homes and use tiles instead of carpets.

An ICA spokesman says some insurers already price mitigation into premiums, but it is a commercial decision as to the factors and data they use to calculate prices.

Information on flood risk is a critical issue, he told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

“Insurers need access to Queensland’s newly developed flood studies, to enable them to improve their assessment of individual property risks.

“ICA acknowledges the work completed by the Queensland Reconstruction Authority in this regard and believes this data should be made available to the community so property-owners can understand their own risks.”

A Suncorp spokesman says the company has been very clear in highlighting the importance of mitigation in ensuring premium affordability.

“To ensure that mitigation activity is reflected in reduced premiums this also requires the investment in up-to-date and detailed flood data,” he told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

“There are approximately 7 million residential properties in Australia so it is impractical for insurers to individually collect this information without investment and data sharing by governments.

“The availability of this information is also essential in informing residents as part of their decision making when buying or building property.”


source: Insurance News

Buyer beware, says The Warranty Group

The range of corporate structures in the warranty industry means that some providers can operate without an Australian financial services licence and some of them are tarnishing the industry, says The Warranty Group MD Scott Grimshaw.

He says The Warranty Group has been lobbying the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) because some firms “fall between the cracks”.

And he believes more warranty firms could fail.

His warning comes after United Warranties last week appointed liquidators Grant Thornton. The company’s clients included Myer and Big W.

Several major warranty firms and a number of smaller ones operate in Australia. Mr Grimshaw told insuranceNEWS.com.au that companies operating at the fringe of the industry have a “live for today” attitude and do not reserve for future claims.

He says many reputable providers offer consumers further protection via extended warranty plans, and a number of them, such as The Warranty Group, use an “insurance approach”.

“Not only do we set aside reserves for payment of future claims and hold that money in appropriate investments, we also set aside funds for the future administration of claims over the life of the policies,” he said.

“Prudentially regulated entities pride themselves on their strong reserving, claims payment ability and the support this gives to their retail business partners’ warranty programs.”

Mr Grimshaw says retailers and manufacturers using warranty providers need to do due diligence, looking at the firms’ capital and who is backing them.

Warranty plans can cover surge protection, normal wear and tear, “no lemon” guarantees, laundry and food spoilage costs, unlimited claims, repair time guarantees and full product replacement.

They are widely used for whitegoods, browngoods (computers, stereos, televisions) and in the motor industry.


Claims Contact Phone Numbers

For claims issues, Insurer’s phone numbers are as follows:

Allianz : 1300 300 573

CGU : 1300 657 119

Vero : 1300 888 073

National Transport Insurance : 1800 684 669


Home Security over the Christmas Holidays

Christmas holidays are a special time when families and friends come together to celebrate the season. It is also the time of year where families and friends are most generous and practice the tradition of gift giving. It should be a joyous and happy time for all of us.

Unfortunately for us, home burglars view the holiday season a little differently. For them, it is a time of opportunity to burglarise your home for cash, credit cards, and all the new gifts of small electronics, computers, jewellery, and easily sold valuables.

Here are a few tips of what they look for when shopping for a house to burglarise. These tips will help you enjoy the holidays without incident.

  • Burglars look for an easy entry with good escape routes. Don’t openly display your Christmas tree and gifts in the front window so it’s easily visible from the street. It’s too tempting for them to smash the window and grab the wrapped packages.
  • Burglars look for occupancy cues like outdoor lights burning 24 hours a day, piled up newspapers, or advertising flyers hanging on the door knob. Use an inexpensive light timer when you are away and ask a neighbour to keep the front of your home clean of papers and debris.
  • Burglars know to look for the hidden door key near the front entrance. Don’t hide spare keys under rocks, in flowerpots, or above door ledges. Instead give the spare key to a trusted neighbour.
  • Burglars prefer to enter through unlocked doors or windows. Sliding windows that are not secure can be seen from distance. One holiday problem can occur when exterior Christmas light extension cords are run inside through a window and prevent it from being secured. Hire an electrician or handyman to install an inexpensive exterior outlet for your holiday lights.
  • Don’t post your family name on your mailbox or on you house. A burglar can call directory assistance to get your telephone number and call your home while in front of your house to confirm that you are away.
  • Don’t leave descriptive telephone answering machine messages like, “You’ve reached the Wilson’s…we’re away skiing for the Christmas holidays…please leave a message.” Burglars love to hear that they have plenty of time to break in and completely ransack your home.
  • After Christmas day, don’t pile up empty gift boxes from your new computer, DVD player, or stereo receiver on the street for the garbage man. Burglars appreciate knowing that you have expensive gifts inside for them to steal. Break them down or cut them up to conceal the items better. After a lucrative burglary, the chances of being burglarised again are increased to steal the new replacement products.
  • Last, but not least, fortify your home by installing solid core doors, heavy duty locks, longer screws in the lock strike plates and door hinges, and install secondary security devices on all accessible sliding windows.

Queensland sees highest rise in residential premiums

Queensland households have seen the highest increase in insurance premiums this year, according to Canstar Cannex’s annual rating of home and contents policies.

 The financial research company analysed 38 insurers and 74 policies and obtained over 16,000 individual quotes across the six states to rate companies. 

It says the average home and contents premium increased 12% in Queensland, 7.4% in NSW, 5% in Tasmania, 4.9% in SA, 4.7% in WA and 4% in Victoria.

 Nationally, 62% of policies have had price increases of no more than 10%, but 31% of Queensland policies have increased by more than 20%. In flood-affected areas, a regional postcode has seen increases of up to 41% while premiums have risen up to 36% for a Brisbane postcode.

 Canstar Cannex studied flood coverage this year and found 92% of policies now cover flooding caused by rainwater runoff, 52% cover flash and riverine flooding, 29% tidal flooding and 16% seawater flooding.

 It says that for building-only insurance, ANZ and Commonwealth Bank are “standouts for the value they offer consumers across the country”.

 Australian Unity and Westpac again top the list for contents insurance. 

For home and contents combined, Australian Unity and Commonwealth Bank are top, with Australian Unity very strong in Queensland and WA and Commonwealth dominating in Victoria, SA and Tasmania. 

New market entrant Coles Home Insurance topped three categories in NSW – building-only, home and contents and contents only.

 Canstar Cannex Research Manager Chris Groth told insuranceNEWS.com.au he can understand how consumers find it hard to compare policies, and many “might not find the energy or motivation to start doing it”. 

He says this year some insurers have tried to make policies easier to understand by including a one-page explanation of important information within their product disclosure statements.

Source: John Heath – InsuranceNewsAustralia.com

No doubt insurance saved countries

 THE COMMUNITIES AND societies of Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Japan would have been a lot worse if they had not had insurance.

 “It’s not a question of belief – the evidence is clear,” according to Lord Levene, chairman of Lloyd’s. “If you look at the effects of the recent floods here in Australia, approximately 85% of policies in the Queensland floods of February 2010 and, again, more recently in the summer of 2010/2011, responded to the event.

“Given the impact of the Chilean earthquake on the country’s industries, communications and infrastructure I was pleased at how swiftly we all got co-ordinated on the ground, ensuring claims were paid as quickly as possible.

 “Compare Chile and Japan with the quake in Haiti, and you have your answer,” Lord Levene told Insurancenewsaustralia.com.

 He agreed it would have been utterly impossible for the national economies’ and populations’ well-being and recovery if there was not a free-market insurance industry.

 “And that’s why, throughout my visit, I’ve been trying to explain the benefits of a commercial insurance industry.

 “Insurance and reinsurance is there to help smooth out the losses to business, not to drive up the cost of insurance and the cost of living for everyone.

 “The free-market insurance industry is an absolute bedrock of commercial and civil continuity.

 “You only have to look at the slow pace of reconstruction in Japan to see how impaired recovery can become where levels of private insurance are inadequate,” he told INAcom.

 source: John Heath – InsuranceNewsAustralia.com

Toyota and Isuzu trucks high on thieves list

 If you own a Toyota or Isuzu truck then chances are you are more likely to have it knocked off, according to new figures

 More than 580 Toyota trucks and 215 Isuzu heavy vehicles were stolen last year, according to the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (NMVTRC) figures.

 NMVTRC Executive Director Ray Carroll is urging drivers to lock their vehicles even if they’re stepping away from them for only a couple of minutes.

 “They need to be aware that theft takes place,” Carroll says.

 “People who don’t experience a theft after driving for many years may well become complacent about the security of their truck and load.

 “They need to increase their awareness, particularly with some of the larger prime mover trucks where it’s preferable to keep the engine idling when you’re not actually in the truck.”

 Melbourne’s north-western industrial area, Hume City, is Victoria’s top place for thieves stealing trucks, where 19 vehicles were snatched last year.

 And it seems that thieves prefer to steal them later in the afternoon between 4pm and 8pm.

 “One of the major reasons why vehicles are stolen from the Hume area is that it has a lot of warehouses and trucking businesses. It’s an opportunity and thieves gravitate where there’s an opportunity where trucks are parked and stored,” Carroll says.

 Most thieves steal the trucks because of the cargo and later dump the vehicles, he says.

 “Some of the large prime movers that aren’t found are stolen for cannibalisation for parts which are put back into the black market. The economic motive for stealing vehicles hasn’t declined at all.

 Isuzu marketing manager Jeff Birdseye says Isuzu trucks are stolen because they are the top selling and most popular brand.

 “We’ve been in the market for over 22 years and there’s a lot more Isuzu trucks out there than any other brand on Australian roads,” Birdseye says.

 “I would say they are being stolen in direct proportion to the number of sales because of the competitors and I would also suggest that most of those trucks would be much older models than we are currently selling.”

 Source: Australian Transport News Magazine