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20 May 2013
The Australian Government Actuary will undertake “a rigorous quantitative investigation” of the causes of premium increases in the north Queensland strata market, with a final report due by September 30.
Financial Services Minister Bill Shorten made the announcement last week when tabling the Government’s response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee investigation into the operation of the insurance industry during disaster events and increases in residential strata title insurance premiums in north Queensland.
Mr Shorten says the Government agrees with the committee’s assessment that further investigation is required into the “underlying causes of the affordability and availability problems in North Queensland”.
The Government Actuary will use insurance industry data in examining the problem.
Mr Shorten also backed the committee’s recommendation that the Queensland Government should introduce a one-year moratorium on stamp duty charged on strata title insurance in north Queensland.
Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls says while he welcomes the Federal Government’s assurance that it will work with the Queensland Government, the state will seek Canberra’s assistance to fund such a measure.
“Clearly the state of our finances limits our ability to carry the full burden of this measure,” he said. “We would therefore expect the Federal Government to assist in funding to help provide relief for the many north Queensland residents who take out strata title insurance.”
Insurance Council of Australia CEO Rob Whelan confirmed the council will co-operate with the Government Actuary in its analysis. But warns the strata issue is “complex”.
“The industry’s submission to the committee explains the commercial reasons for premium rises, which relate directly to the risks to property in these regions, and points out unit owners in northern Australia are now generally paying similar premiums to owners of stand-alone homes.”
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