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Fire services levy discussion paper released

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The Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission has released a discussion paper inviting comment on possible reforms to the fire services levy (FSL) and insurance.

The paper raises key issues for comment such as whether to widen the FSL with an additional levy on non-insured and underinsured properties or whether to introduce compulsory property insurance.

LMI Group CEO Allan Manning says the discussion paper is balanced and is of great importance.

“It not only addresses the unjust fire service tax but also the outrageous up-to-now hidden issues of double and triple taxation and the 10% state government stamp duty on vitally important insurance products,” he told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

“This is perhaps our best chance in a generation to get rid of the vile tax which is a huge disincentive to adequate insurance and which continues to affect the economy, communities, business owners and individuals.”

Dr Manning says the paper pointedly outlines the number of previous inquiries whose recommendations for change have been ignored by successive governments.

The National Insurance Brokers Association (NIBA) says it welcomes the review of the FSL. “Taxes and charges on property insurance in Victoria are extremely high,” NIBA CEO Noel Pettersen said. These extreme rates of taxation drive normally prudent people away from insurance.”

In August, insuranceNEWS.com.au reported that the royal commission’s interim report revealed widespread opposition to the FSL being part of voluntary insurance. Most of the 65 insurance-related submissions tabled called for reform of the levy, which is charged on premiums in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.

The royal commission will deliver its findings in July next year.

Insurers received around 10,040 claims following the devastating February bushfires, with insured losses of $1.07 billion. An estimated 30% of homes were not insured.