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The Cairns Post
February 24, 2017

FED-UP homeowners in the Far North are backing a new campaign to drive down insurance costs after years of being ripped off by big corporate insurance heavyweights.
The latest figures show Far Northerners pay thousands of dollars more on their home insurance than people living in southern cities.
Cairns Mortgage Brokers director Roger Ward has kicked off a new campaign to put an end to exorbitant prices by bringing back the State Government Insurance Office.
Dissolved in 1996 when Suncorp was privatised, the SGIO’s purpose was to provide insurance for Queenslanders at a reasonable price.
“We thought this would continue after 1996 when Suncorp was privatised but the exact opposite has happened,” Mr Ward said.
“It is not a fair market because it is not discretionary spending.
“If you want to go out and buy a new suit. If it is too expensive you can say, I am not going to buy that suit, but with insurance, you don’t have an option, because if you have a mortgage, it is a requirement that you insure your home. And whether you’re a pensioner or a millionaire, these premiums are completely indiscriminate and low-income earners are disproportionately persecuted.”
An online petition started by Mr Ward has so far attracted almost 300 signatures.
Another petition that was started in 2014 attracted more than 6000 signatures.
Three years ago the Northern Territory Government sold off public insurer, TIO, to German corporation Allianz, which triggered huge increases for some policy holders when the premium price structure was shifted to a risk-based assessment.
The switch meant those in high-risk areas pay more for their premiums.

Leichhardt MP Warren Enstch, who claims to be one of the biggest advocates for lowering premiums, believes insurers will need a greater incentive if they are to reduce charges. Leichhardt MP Warren Enstch, who claims to be one of the biggest advocates for lowering premiums, believes insurers will need a greater incentive if they are to reduce charges.
“The reality is if it was a simple solution, it would have been done a long time ago,” he said.
“There have been some changes, but they have been slow and they haven’t been enough.”
A 2016 report published by Treasury in response to Northern Australia Insurance Premium taskforce listed mitigating premiums as the key recommendation to lowering costs to the consumer.
That is, using Federal Government money to improve the cyclone resilience of homes.
Mr Enstch said mitigation was “subsidising” insurance company profits and blamed Treasury’s reluctance towards supporting a community-owned mutual insurer.
He said insurance companies were “gouging” the region.
The $2 million taskforce was launched in 2015 to investigate the possibility of government-run reinsurance or a community-owned mutual insurer.
“What our proposal is, is to set up a mutual insurer just to do the cyclone element and all the other insurers can come in and do fire and theft,” he said.
Average premiums in north Queensland are about one-and-a-half times those of properties in Brisbane.

Renee Accatino and her daughter Summer 8. Renee is trying to buy her first home but is shocked at the cost of home insurance.

SINGLE mum Renee Accatino almost bought her first house this year.
The 30-year-old came close to snapping up a $300,000 property at Westcourt before a $6500 quote for home insurance scared her off.
“I pretty much fell off my chair thinking, ‘I can’t afford to buy a house because I can’t afford the insurance’,” she said.
“It was an eye-opening experience, put it that way.”
Ms Accatino and her eight-year-old daughter, Summer, are now renting a house at Edmonton. It comes as a Far North mortgage broker begins a war on “ridiculous” home insurance premiums.
Cairns Mortgage Broker director Roger Ward believes high premiums are deterring first home buyers from entering the market.
He was able to work Ms Accatino’s premium down to $2700 through Cairns Home Insurance, but said it was still too much.
A Northern Australia Insurance Premiums Taskforce report, published early last year, found mitigation such as government subsidies to help cyclone-proof houses, was the only sustainable way to drop insurance premiums in FNQ.
Ms Accatino said she questioned whether she could ever enter the housing market.
“At the end of the day, it is so expensive,” she said.
“I ended up holding off … I didn’t think it would be that much.”