Government actuary publishes report on Queensland insurance market

Government actuary publishes report on Queensland insurance market | Insurance Business

Government actuary publishes report on Queensland insurance market
The Australian Government Actuary (AGA) has released its findings on the state of the insurance market in Queensland and found that consumers have faced an 80% rise in premium rates in eight years.

The independent actuary found that over the same period, average home and contents rates across Australia had increased by about 25% and the increase in Sydney and Melbourne was just 12% by comparison.

Taking into account three major weather systems since 2005-06, the actuary found that North Queensland faces a much more volatile insurance environment thanks to its location and outlined insurer reaction to these disasters, developments in catastrophe modelling and increases to the costs of catastrophe reinsurance as key drivers for the increases experienced.

CEO of ICA Rob Whelan said the findings highlight the need for caution in relation to the planned government-run aggregator for the area and the introduction of unauthorised foreign insurers to the Australian market.

“Price comparison websites and allowing home owners to be exposed to the risk of taking out cover with unauthorised and unregulated foreign insurers will do nothing to reduce costs or vulnerability.

“The most effective and only sustainable way to encourage greater competition and lower premiums is for governments to take appropriate actions to lower the vulnerability of communities in North Queensland to the constant risks of natural disasters.”

Whelan defended insurers in the region as, he states, that even with the price rises they are losing money in a volatile market.

“Over a long period, insurers have paid out $1.40 for every $1 they receive in premiums in North Queensland. They are losing money in an unsustainable fashion due to the fact communities in the region are frequently hit by cyclones.

“However, despite these losses, insurers have remained in the market and have helped rebuild North Queensland communities following some of Australia’s largest natural disasters of recent years, including Cyclone Larry ($540 million in insurance costs), Cyclone Yasi ($1.4 billion), and ex-TC Oswald ($977 million).

“Actions to increase competition in a market where the competitors all consistently lose money will be unlikely to have as strong an effect as solving the underlying problem – many properties in North Queensland experience regular extensive and expensive damage due to the impact of large cyclones.”

“The Australian Government Actuary estimates that insurers would still have been operating at a considerable loss if today’s higher premiums had been paid by householders consistently over the past eight years.”

Whelan stressed the need for mitigation to help both consumers and insurers in an otherwise difficult market.

“The AGA report shows the cost of cyclones is the single largest contributor to the pricing difference between North Queensland and other markets. This is also reflected by the price increases imposed by international reinsurers on local policyholders.

“Prevention by reducing the impact of cyclones on these communities, rather than market intervention, is the only long-term solution.”
  • Sunny from Sunny QLD 2014-12-08 10:42:40 PM
    Nice to see that this article has been published in an insurance centric media outlet. I cannot imagine that this will make main stream media, as this is WAY to factual & nowhere near SENSATIONAL enough to promote anything insurance related to the general public! It's nice to see that the government has commissioned the report but I'm not sure that it will make any difference in their own or community sediment on this issue.
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  • David P 2014-12-08 11:01:20 PM
    Sunny, you need to read the paper more often. The point of sustainability and the losses insurers incur in Nth QLD was raised in the Courier Mail yesterday.
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  • The (Northern) Oracle 2014-12-08 11:39:16 PM
    The point ICA's Rob Whelan misses is how to sustain the market in the short to medium term. In my view the all sectors of the Australian Insurance industry have no choice but to adopt and advocate the Insurance Pool Model as suggested by Allianz.
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