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31 Jan 2019

NSW emergency services levy (ESL) payments are set to surge as the state government improves firefighter access to workers’ compensation and buys more aircraft ahead of the next bushfire season.

ESL levy contributions will jump from $780 million this financial year to $967 million next year and to $1.131 billion in the following 12 months, a half-year budget review shows.

NSW continues to fund more than 80% of the cost of fire and emergency services through a levy on insurance after dropping a plan to switch to a property-based charge collected by local councils in 2017.

The budget update says the increase in workers’ compensation costs will be largely re...

30 Jan 2019

Commercial premiums are set to keep rising this year and profitability is improving, but concerns about regulatory reactions in the wake of the Hayne royal commission continue to cast a shadow over the industry.

That’s the assessment of JP Morgan and Taylor Fry in their annual General Insurance Barometer report, which was released today.

They say rates have jumped 9% in the past 12 months and are expected to gain another 8% this year before the growth pace eases to 6% in 2020. The gains compare with a 1% decline in commercial classes in 2016.

Premium growth was significantly higher than claims size inflation in the past year as insurers sought to improve...

29 Jan 2019

The Hayne royal commission’s final report will be released on Monday after the close of trading on the Australian Securities Exchange, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says.

The Government will receive the report into misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services industry on Friday and Mr Frydenberg will hold a press conference after it is made public on Monday at 4.10pm.

Commissioner Kenneth Hayne did not make draft recommendations in an interim report published in September but made clear that past conduct has not been appropriately dealt with by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Australian Prudential Regul...

28 Jan 2019

Allianz Partners has teamed up Arcadia Underwriting, a dedicated insurance service for the residential property market, to provide selected customers assistance with 10 common home emergencies, including gas leaks, burst pipes, and power failures.

The home-emergency assistance will be offered as part of a special bundled offering with Arcadia Underwriting’s home and landlord-and-tenants insurance.

“Allianz Partners are committed to supporting our partners in delivering assistance products that can add value to their customers and support their core offering,” said Simon Wilson, national business development manager for Allianz Partners. “We are excited...

25 Jan 2019

Soaring directors’ and officers’ (D&O) premiums and insurers leaving the market are a sign that “something is not quite right” in the securities class action environment, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) says.

The law group, which provides recommendations to the Attorney-General, looked at the D&O issue as part of a broader inquiry on class actions and litigation funders. It says the Government should conduct a separate review of the shareholder class action regime.

“The ALRC viewed this particular issue as being the canary in the coalmine – something is not quite right, but the evidence is not yet available to establish precisely what,” the A...

24 Jan 2019

Another tough year looms for reinsurers after the sector failed to achieve significant rate rises in the January renewal season.

The result will be even more mergers and acquisitions, moves by reinsurers into more profitable arms of the industry and a focus on getting closer to customers.

S&P Global Ratings says in a report released today that global pricing in aggregate was flat to 3% up, dealing a blow to reinsurers’ hopes of a strong boost from two straight years of above-average natural catastrophe losses.

Last year ranked as the fourth-highest loss year on record. Natural catastrophes racked up $US80 billion ($112 billion) in insured losses, and rein...

23 Jan 2019

The NSW Emergency Services Levy Insurance Monitor has fired back at the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) over its claim that the organisation is exceeding its mandate.

Deputy Monitor David Cousins says the Monitor, Allan Fels, is acting fairly in calling for insurer data related to his claims that insurers impose a virtual “loyalty tax” on premiums paid by renewing customers.

Professor Cousins says in the Monitor’s website that ICA’s submission “makes a number of factually inaccurate points”.

ICA has suggested that Professor Fels is also stepping on the turf of other national processes in demanding the data. It says the discussion paper uses “seriousl...

22 Jan 2019

The NSW Government has rejected introducing a property-based levy to fund emergency services if it wins the March election, leaving NSW as the only mainland state to continue raising the funds through insurance.

In a response to a parliamentary committee report on the issue, the government of Premier Gladys Berejiklian says it “has no plans to introduce a revised fire and emergency services levy in the next term of government”.

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has expressed its disappointment at the Government’s decision to back away from the “unfair and inequitable” emergency services levy (ESL) for the foreseeable future.

“Changing the ESL from...

13 Jan 2019

QBE has revealed the costliest problems for landlords – and unexpectedly, it’s water damage and not bad tenants that’s giving them the biggest financial headache.

A review of QBE insurance data revealed storm and flood damage comprised 34% of the recent claims lodged by landlords, while “escape of liquid,” which included damage from faulty pipes, leaks, or problems with water supply, comprised 21% of claims.

Compared to the more than 50% of national claims due to water damage, defaults on rent payments and theft accounted for a much lower proportion of landlord claims at 12% and 10%, respectively, with a further 6% of claims related to electricity proble...

11 Jan 2019

Sydney’s Opal Tower has dominated headlines after cracks appeared along a concrete wall in the 38-storey Homebush building in Olympic Park on Christmas Eve, with builder Icon Construction recently assuring property groups that it has a “robust and comprehensive” insurance program to deal with the crisis.

Building defects aren’t unusual in Australian construction, but what the crumbling Opal Tower highlights is the vulnerability of builders and subcontractors of defective buildings and the lack of protections for consumers who buy them.

"This is a David-and-Goliath fight no owner expects, or should be expected, to enter into," Karen Stiles, Owners Corpora...

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