Home / Regulatory & Government / Bushfire royal commission ‘must tackle underinsurance’
10 February 2020
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has written to state and territory leaders seeking feedback on terms of reference for a proposed royal commission into the devastating bushfire season.
More than 2400 homes have been destroyed in NSW alone, more than 30 people killed, and Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) figures put insured losses from the catastrophe declared on November 8 at $1.65 billion.
Mr Morrison says a royal commission will take into account previous reviews, and cover issues including the deployment of defence force personnel, hazard reduction burns and land clearing.
But National Insurance Brokers Association CEO Dallas Booth says insurance issues must also be addressed.
“We are waiting to see the terms of reference and how they might apply to the insurance industry,” he said.
“There is real concern in the community about the level of underinsurance and non-insurance.
“It will be critically important for the royal commission to examine the impact of taxes and charges on insurance premiums, and the extent to which these taxes and charges are adding to the affordability problems of insurance cover.”
Mr Booth says the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission called for the abolition of the fire services levy, and “to their credit” the Victorian Government acted.
“The Emergency Services Levy in NSW is a major burden being carried by policyholders,” he said. “NSW must follow Victoria and make these long overdue reforms.”
NSW, Victoria and SA have already announced state-level inquiries into the bushfire season.
ICA previously said the NSW inquiry should address levels of underinsurance and non-insurance, “including the effect that state taxes and levies have had on the cost and purchase of household and business policies in the state”.