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Northern lobby group to pursue wider affordability action

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The Northern Australia Insurance Lobby (NAIL) has changed its name and will take on a national focus as it seeks an expansion of government-backed reinsurance to other risks affected by affordability and availability problems.

The renamed Australian Consumers Insurance Lobby (ACIL) says its immediate priority is ensuring the new cyclone pool is fit for purpose, but it also wants to assist consumers battling issues gaining cover for a wider range of risks.

“Our organisation is still committed to consumers in northern Australia but we believe more work needs to be done to address other failures in the insurance industry and we intend on lobbying to ensure consumers come first,” ACIL Chairman Tyrone Shandiman said.

The Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation (ARPC) will operate the reinsurance pool for cyclones and related flood damage following the passage of federal legislation earlier this year. The scheme is due to come into effect from Friday, with related marine risks to be added from July 1 next year.

Mr Shandiman says NAIL’s input during government consultations on the pool delivered material changes that will benefit consumers, and the group will continue to pursue any issues as they emerge.

The start of the pool follows years of lobbying and several inquiries, and the group has previously warned it will still take some time for benefits to flow through. Large insurers have until December next year to join and small insurers an additional 12 months.

In the meantime, this year’s record-breaking flooding in southeast Queensland northern NSW has highlighted other insurance problems that won’t be addressed by the scheme.

Mr Shandiman says ACIL is taking a proactive stance in looking for the ARPC mandate to be extended, particularly as climate change increases risks from natural disasters.

“We think the government has a broader role in dealing with the affordability and availability of insurance,” he tells insuranceNEWS.com.au. “We don’t want people in bushfire and flood areas to have to wait 12 years for the government to take action, which is what happened with cyclone.”

The group is looking for additional committee members who can provide representation on insurance issues such as flood, bushfire, storm surge and leisure industry liability.

Mr Shandiman says priorities for ACIL also include lobbying for the removal of government stamp duties and levies from insurance to improve affordability.

“Consumers are underrepresented on issues related to insurance and it is important they have a voice,” he said.