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NT insurance scheme for home building not protecting the industry, consumers say

NT insurance scheme for home building not protecting the industry, consumers say | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

Pressure is mounting for an insurance scheme for home buyers to be scrapped after the Northern Territory Government received numerous complaints from the people it is designed to protect.


Geraldine Want said she and her husband lost their dream home and life savings after the home they built was riddled with defects.


Ms Want said she and her husband eventually left the Northern Territory after losing a court battle against their builder in 2013, and he refused to fix the defects on their partially completed home.  She said they asked the newly created Master Builders Fidelity Fund to help cover the costs of fixing the defects and their legal fees, but it was beyond the scope of its indemnity cover.


Ms Want said their case showed home buyers and consumers do not have enough protection in the Northern Territory.

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Live longer, save on insurance

Live longer, save on insurance | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

I reckon there's a lot to celebrate about getting older - the joy of watching our kids grow up, having plenty of life experience to draw on, and surprisingly, valuable savings on insurance premiums.  Let me explain that last point. A colleague of mine recently turned the big 5-0. It wasn't a milestone she particularly relished, that is until her comprehensive car insurance renewal arrived. The annual premium was considerably lower than in previous years thanks to the driver turning 50.


Interestingly, age-based discounts are also becoming available on life insurance.  MLC Insurance for instance, recently announced discounts on life cover with savings of up to 15% from age 45. It's a great idea - live longer, save on insurance.


In fact, from our forties onwards, life insurance plays an especially valuable role in a sensible financial plan.   Between the ages of around 40 and 50 we often face significant financial responsibilities - paying off a home, funding a quality education for our children, and aiming to grow investments for retirement.

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Is private health insurance still worth it?

Is private health insurance still worth it? | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

In the past 12 months, half a million Australians have ditched or downgraded their top-cover health insurance policies – and that’s got the government worried.


“Many consumers are unhappy with their private health insurance and if people needed proof it was a barbeque stopper, here it is,” Health Minister Sussan Ley said earlier this month.


In response to increasing dissatisfaction with the price of health insurance, the government launched an online consumer survey on November 8. Ms Ley said that in the first five days of the survey, which runs until December 4, 20,000 people had shared their views on how to make health insurance better value.

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Properties under fire: why so many Australians are inadequately insured against disaster

Properties under fire: why so many Australians are inadequately insured against disaster | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

The fire season has started early. Homes were destroyed last month in bushfires near Lancefield, Victoria, while buildings and lives have been lost as fires continue to sweep through southern Western Australia.


Alongside the devastating loss of life and properties, many properties potentially in the path of Australian bushfires are inadequately insured.


While we have known about high rates of non-insurance and under-insurance across Australia for some time, there is surprisingly little solid data on the issue. We recently set out to address this gap at both the national and regional level.


Early findings from a national survey (which we will be presenting at the 2015 TASA conference later this month) indicate 13% of those surveyed are without insurance cover for their assets - 9% of home owners are without house insurance and 41% of tenants do not have contents insurance.


Approximately one-quarter of those who are insured may also be inadequately covered.

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Health insurance premiums rising 6pc, get used to it

Health insurance premiums rising 6pc, get used to it | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

Next year's health insurance price hike will be slightly lower than previous years but nib boss Mark Fitzgibbon says customers need to "get used to the idea" of annual premium increases in the region of 5 to 6 per cent.


The push to rein in the rising cost of private health cover is an aim of Health Minister Sussan Ley's review into the $19 billion sector, which heats up this week, but Mr Fitzgibbon played down expectations it would deliver real change.


"I don't think there will be any initial big bang," he said.
Mr Fitzgibbon, speaking at a conference organised by investment bank UBS, said spending on health care across the country had run at about 6 per cent a year for the past 10 years.

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Health premium hikes on the horizon

Health premium hikes on the horizon | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

Health insurance customers are set to be made April fools again next year, with another painful premium hike on the cards.


13 November is the last day for private health funds to apply for the right to adjust premiums from 1 April. If approved by the health minister Sussan Ley, the price hikes could see families coughing up $33 a month extra for health cover.


This comes after the news that half a million private hospital policy holders had ditched their top level cover during the last financial year, with many opting instead to take out a cheaper, less comprehensive level of insurance. The proposed premium increases might push all-inclusive policies out of reach of many consumers.

"It's concerning that half a million customers downgraded their level of private hospital cover in the past year, a move that could leave them under-insured and out pocket if they need to make a claim," says CHOICE head of media Tom Godfrey.


"The requested premium increases also come at a time when health and medical costs are one of the top cost-of-living concerns for Australian consumers."

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Review must consider the big barriers to private healthcare for rural Australians

Review must consider the big barriers to private healthcare for rural Australians | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

THE Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) has strongly welcomed the Federal Government's decision to review private health insurance (PHI) in Australia, adding that it must closely consider the significant cost and access barriers that are preventing many rural and remote Australians from fully benefitting from private healthcare.  


‘It was pleasing to see the recent statement by the Federal Health Minister, Sussan Ley MP, that the Government is committed to recalibrating the private health system so that value for money for consumers returns to being its core focus,’’ RDAA president Dr Ewen McPhee said.


‘‘We also welcome her statement that any PHI changes need to be delivered with the starting point that the Medicare and public hospital systems remain ’universally’ accessible to all Australians, and that private health is seen as a complement — not a substitute — to services.   Delivering value for money in PHI to rural and remote Australians would be a very positive development, as many country Australians simply cannot afford the rising cost of private health insurance, both in terms of annual cover and also in terms of excess payments and gap payments."

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Smokers should be charged more for health insurance: NIB CEO

Smokers should be charged more for health insurance: NIB CEO | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

Smokers should be charged higher fees for health insurance under a trial that could pave the way for overweight people to also be charged more, the CEO of one of Australia's largest insurers says.


Just weeks after the Turnbull Government announced that one million Australians would next year take part in an "opt out" e-health trial that would allow their medical records to be shared with third party companies, the head of NIB Mark Fitzgibbon said there was potential for insurers to get involved.  He said while higher premiums for smokers should come first, people could be rewarded for healthy behaviours such as achieving 10,000 steps a day on activity trackers.


"It's not too far away where we will have little nano capsules in our blood stream providing us with all our vital diagnostics, warning us about our blood sugar insulin levels at any given time, measuring our calorie intake… and measuring how many calories we've expended," he said.


Mr Fitzgibbon said at the moment, health insurers had very limited access to information about policy holders beyond their age, gender, home address and claims history.   He said while consumers may be wary of privacy, he was confident the insurance industry could manage such data safely within government regulations preventing discrimination.


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Government seeks review of troubled life insurance industry in 2018

Government seeks review of troubled life insurance industry in 2018 | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

The federal government will ban expensive up-front commissions paid to life insurance advisers if the quality of advice in the troubled sector has not improved after a review of the industry in 2018.


Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer said the government would ask the Australian Securities and Investment Commission to conduct a review of the life sector and enforce level commission payments if after two years the industry still had not improved its quality of advice.


"The government previously announced that ASIC will undertake a review of the reforms in 2018. If the 2018 review does not identify significant improvement, the government will move to mandate level commissions, as was recommended by the Murray inquiry," Ms O'Dwyer said in a statement on Friday.

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Federal Government launches public consultation in review of private health insurance

Federal Government launches public consultation in review of private health insurance | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

Half a million Australians dropped or downgraded their private health insurance in the last financial year, causing "alarm" for the Federal Health Minister who says consumers are not getting value for money from their policies.


Sussan Ley has launched an online survey that asks voters if premiums should be charged according to a person's smoking status, age, gender or "health risk factors".


"We're not afraid of asking those tough questions," Mr Ley said. "It's important that we get people's thoughts but I do want to say that I'm really about incentives not exclusions."


However, Labor and the Greens have raised doubts over the Government's plan to potentially take smoking into account, saying it could lead to other risk factors being considered.


Ms Ley reassured people that existing consumers would not be slugged on the grounds they were unaware of the risks of activities like smoking when they were younger.

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Insurance becoming expensive?

Insurance becoming expensive? | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

HERE'S no doubt that everybody loves a Queenslander.


I don't mean Johnathan Thurston, but the grand old Queensland houses with their high ceilings, wide verandas and tin roofs.

I have been lucky enough to live in several of them over the past few decades and have loved the experience.


However, that love affair began to cool a few years ago when our annual insurance premium arrived and price nearly doubled.

The shock was repeated a year later, even though we had trimmed back on all our extras.


Climate change is impacting on the family budgets of many people in Queensland right now through increased home insurance and that's especially true if you live in an older home.


Homes built prior to 1980 did not have to be built to withstand intense winds exceeding 200kmh so the insurance industry considers them a high risk and they charge higher premiums.


The same is true if your house is built in a low lying coastal area that could be inundated by storm surge, if you can find a company willing to insure you.

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Flood study may help ease Bundaberg insurance premiums

Flood study may help ease Bundaberg insurance premiums | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) says a major study that paves the way for further flood mitigation projects in Bundaberg, in southern Queensland, could reduce premiums.


General insurers received more than 75,000 claims across the Wide Bay region and paid out claims in excess of $977 million in 2013 after the city's worst floods.


The State Government, along with the Bundaberg council, will undertake a scoping study which will produce a 10-year flood mitigation plan for the region.


The ICA's Campbell Fuller said a small spend on mitigation could save millions of dollars in the long-term by preventing further damage.

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Get rid of stamp duty on car, home insurance, increase land tax, save $575m

Get rid of stamp duty on car, home insurance, increase land tax, save $575m | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

The national economy would be boosted by more than half a billion dollars annually - over five years - if state and territory governments replaced stamp duties on insurance policies, new research by Deloitte Access Economics shows.


The research, which was done for the Insurance Council of Australia, shows that the impact of replacing "inefficient" state stamp duties – such as motor vehicle tax and insurance taxes – with a rise in land taxes such as council rates. The land tax rate would depend on the value of the property, as it currently does.

Deloitte's modelling shows rises in both household consumption and government revenue.


In New South Wales there would be more than $3 billion in extra consumption over five years, followed by Victoria ($1.08 billion), Queensland ($582 million) South Australia ($298 million) and Western Australia ($263 million).


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SA bushfire insurance claims reach $75 million

SA bushfire insurance claims reach $75 million | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

Insurance losses from the deadly Pinery bushfire, which ravaged larges swathes of South Australia's Mid North last week, have reached $75 million.


The Insurance Council of Australia has declared the bushfire a catastrophe after it burnt more than 85,000 hectares of land, destroyed 87 homes, killed two people, tens of thousands of livestock and razed more than 300 farm sheds and outbuildings.  It said the number of claims had reached 525.


"Total insured losses have hit $75 million and are expected to rise significantly in coming days as assessors continue investigating claims from policy holders," it said.

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MLC cuts TPD and life insurance premiums

MLC cuts TPD and life insurance premiums | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

MLC Insurance has cut its premiums by up to 15 per cent for life cover insurance and total and permanent disability (TPD) extension insurance.


Effective from today, the rate cut extends to new customers at, or when they reach 45 years of age or over on the MLC Insurance and MLC Insurance (super) products.  


MLC executive general manager for insurance, David Hackett, told Money Management the rate cut will help future address the under insurance in Australia.


"If you look at underinsurance, often it is not just about having enough insurance, it's the wrong type of insurance as well," Hackett said.

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Insurers warned over automatic renewals

Insurers warned over automatic renewals | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

Six car insurers, including CGU and Youi, have been ordered to lift their game after a string of customer complaints about automatic policy renewals.


The order by the corporate regulator comes after a review found insurers didn't always clearly inform new customers that policies would automatically renew unless they advised otherwise.  Some customers complained that they had already taken out a policy with a rival insurer by the time they discovered their old policy had been automatically renewed.


Others reported having their bank account overdrawn by unexpected direct debits, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission said on Thursday.  In most cases consumers were only informed about the practice in the product disclosure statement - which was sometimes not received until after the policy was issued - and the renewal notice.

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Growing number of Victorian farmers seek crop insurance

Growing number of Victorian farmers seek crop insurance | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

Insurance against Mother Nature: the idea has been dangled in front of Australian farmers for years, without much response.  But, after a second horror season in the Wimmera Mallee grain belt, the subject is the talk of the farming community.


Warracknabeal producer Phil Koschitze became the poster boy for multi-peril crop insurance in Victoria last year, after paying the $33,000 premium and receiving a pay-out.


This year the list of walking advertisements is much longer — as is the list of providers and products on offer.


One Birchip provider said about 25 per cent of producers in the region had opted for the cheaper 'input insurance', offered by Pro Crop Insurance, meaning a smaller pay-out but also, lower premiums.

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Australia must protect the foundations of its healthcare system

Australia must protect the foundations of its healthcare system | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

What do we want our healthcare system to look in 10 years? The federal government's vision for Australia's healthcare system currently lacks clarity, let alone consensus. 


The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review, the Primary Care Review, and now a review of the private health insurance sector are set against the background of reform of the federation and federal-state health-funding arrangements. In the midst of these reviews is a debate about tax reform, including the potential application of a 15 per cent GST on health. 


Without a coherent long-term vision for our healthcare system, this is a recipe for uncertainty and misadventure.


The private health insurance review is needed. A strong private insurance sector, which supports our public health system, is vital to our healthcare system.

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Health insurance rise under the microscope

Health insurance rise under the microscope | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

The federal government is examining whether health insurance fund calls for potential premium rises of six to seven per cent stack up.


Health Minister Sussan Ley realises private health insurance is a 'barbecue stopper' for the community, after 20,000 people this week took the time to respond to her department's online survey on the broader operation of the system.


'If we need to make tough decisions, we will,' she told ABC TV on Friday.


Private health insurers must apply to the health minister if they want to raise annual premiums.

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Queensland to introduce no-fault CTP liability in line with other Australian states

Queensland to introduce no-fault CTP liability in line with other Australian states | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

The Queensland Government is moving to a no-fault scheme for vehicle liability insurance, ending a longstanding national divide on compulsory third party (CTP) coverage.  


The State Government will announce today it plans to introduce the change from July 1, 2016.  For decades, motor vehicle liability has been defined by no-fault and at-fault states.  The distinction could lead to huge differences in outcomes for accident victims.


Young People in Nursing Homes National Alliance director Bronwyn Morkham said Queensland's move marked a "very, very important day".


"The fact that Queensland is moving to this means we'll have a harmonised system nationally," she said.  "That means it doesn't matter where you're injured, you will be covered, and you can also recover to the best of your ability and get your life back"


Many Australians are unaware of the dramatic differences between the states when it comes to CTP coverage.

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Who are the biggest losers in life insurance?

Who are the biggest losers in life insurance? | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

It's a cut-throat market where claims are on the rise and lawyers are happy to sue companies at the drop of a hat.


Welcome to Australia's life insurance industry, where profits have been hit by a toxic combination of expensive white-collar claims, low investment returns and a growing number of lawsuits in the past few years.


The verdict is in for the worst performers of 2014-15. Daichi Life-owned TAL, listed insurer AMP and National Australia Bank-owned MLC are the biggest losers of market share in Australia's $14.7 billion life insurance sector last year.


Those are the findings of Andrew Adams, insurance analyst at Credit Suisse, who said TAL recorded an annual growth rate of just 3 per cent during the 12 months to June 30, compared with the industry average of 10.6 per cent.

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Radical reforms to health insurance flagged by Turnbull Government

Radical reforms to health insurance flagged by Turnbull Government | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

Private health insurers would be allowed to cover GP visits and common tests such as X-rays under radical reforms being canvassed by the Turnbull government that would shift Australia towards a more US-style health system.   Health policy experts say the move, flagged in a government survey of Australians about private health insurance, would reduce pressure on GPs to bulk bill their services at the Medicare rate of payment, inflating prices for patients.   


The government has also opened the door to private health insurers charging higher fees for people who smoke or are overweight, and Health Minister Sussan Ley said she may slash subsidies currently provided for health insurance policies that include "extras" such as dental and optical services because "they may not be best value for money".   


"There are all sorts of policy options on the table when we get through this process," Ms Ley said on Sunday after launching the survey.


Health economist and former secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Health, Stephen Duckett, said allowing insurers to cover GP visits could undermine universal access to healthcare – the fundamental principle of Australia's Medicare system.   

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Life insurance commissions to shrink

Life insurance commissions to shrink | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

Upfront commissions on life insurance policies will be reduced following an agreement between assistant treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer and members of the life insurance industry on Friday.


Upfront commissions will fall to a maximum of 80 per cent from July 2016, then 70 per cent from July 2017 and then down to 60 per cent from July 2018.


Ongoing commissions will be capped at 20 per cent thereafter.

Ms O'Dwyer said the three-year transition will ensure that advisers have time to adjust their businesses to the new reforms.


The reforms have also introduced a two-year retention, or clawback, period to start from July 1, 2016.


When a life insurance policy lapses or the premium decrease in the first year of the policy, 100 per cent of the premium will be retained and if it lapses or the premium decreases in the second year, 60 per cent of the first year's premium will be retained.

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Multi-peril crop insurance could keep families on farms

Multi-peril crop insurance could keep families on farms | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

Queensland MP Robbie Katter believes multi-peril crop insurance could be the saviour of the Australian rural industry.

The Katter Australia Party state leader returned from a multi-peril crop insurance summit hosted by the NSW Government in Sydney enthusiastic about a scheme he said would keep families on farms.

Multi-peril crop insurance protects crops against natural perils including adverse weather, fire, insects, disease, and failure of irrigation water.


Mr Katter believes it has the potential to "turn the tides" for the struggling sector.


"Agriculture is a game of snakes and ladders, and the snakes will always be there to tear your crop down," he said.

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Latest research reveals costs of insurance taxes

Latest research reveals costs of insurance taxes | Insurance Agencies | Scoop.it

The Insurance Council of Australia has released its latest research into the “inefficient” insurance taxes that are costing the Australian economy billions of dollars.


The research, complied by Deloitte Access Economics on behalf of the ICA, found that the Australian economies could benefit by billions of dollars if insurance taxes are replaced with a commensurate rise in land taxes such as council rates.


ICA CEO, Rob Whelan, noted that the changes were designed to be revenue-neutral but showed how much states could benefit from a tax change.


“The modelling shows significant rises in both household consumption and government revenue when governments implement this long-overdue financial reform,” Whelan said.

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