Why Far North insurance crisis is still ‘work in progress’

LEICHHARDT MP Warren Entsch is reassuring Far Northerners the Federal Government is looking at every possible way of reducing insurance premiums in the region as the first cyclone of the summer forms near the Gulf of Carpentaria.

He said measures to remedy an industry which had been increasing the cost of insurance to Far North residents or refusing to insure them at all was a "work in progress".

"We can see there are some real issues, we don't have the answers but we are working on that," Mr Entsch said. "We've got the big insurance companies coming around the table. It'll come up in cabinet in the next month or so."

Debris in North Queensland after Cyclone Debbie.
Debris in North Queensland after Cyclone Debbie.

The federal member agreed with findings of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Northern Australia Insurance Inquiry which revealed the national body did not believe government-run insurance schemes would fix the problem.

Mr Entsch also said he had "great confidence" in Assistant Treasurer and Housing Minister Michael Sukkar who he said "gave very strong commitments (and) understands the issues".

Mr Sukkar met property owners and insurance company bosses in north Queensland last year.

The ACCC's rejection of government-run insurers lay in the fact they had "generally been introduced overseas in situations where insurance was not available through the private market, which is not the case in Northern Australia".

Insurance Council of Australia head of risk and operations Karl Sullivan said "premiums on a like-for-like basis are on average 1.6 times the cost of premiums in lower-risk regions".

"The ICA is analysing surveyed data and other figures in the ACCC report and comparing them with industry policy data to extract further insights that may assist governments to design and fund solutions that will have a material impact on community safety and insurance premiums in these highly exposed regions," he said.

Mirriwinni resident Paul Kelly was incensed when he discovered it would cost $3000 to insure his house at Stratford for $200,000 when the same amount would insure his rural NSW property for six times that value.