A satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Trevor as it crosses the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria last year. Picture: BOM
A satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Trevor as it crosses the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria last year. Picture: BOM

Plea to cut costs of insurance bills

A GROUP representing strata property owners has called for more to be done to resolve an ongoing insurance crisis in northern Australia.

Strata Community Australia was commenting on the latest report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which finds an increasing number of homeowners are going uninsured.

The strata group's Queensland president, James Nickless, said strata communities had been burdened by inflated insurance premiums for too long.

He said the report failed to provide viable solutions.

"Strata property owners and bodies corporate are increasingly being penalised when it comes time to renew," he said. "Too often, renewing customers are paying more than new customers due to unfair and unsustainable premium adjustments."

The ACCC released its second interim report last month, estimating that 17 per cent or about 62,000 properties in northern Queensland are uninsured because of unaffordable premiums.

The commission is in the fourth year of a four-year inquiry, which is due to produce a final report to government on November 30.

Previously, it has recommended abolishing stamp duty, prohibiting conflicted broker remuneration and requiring insurers to tell consumers about mitigation options and the premium savings that can be achieved.

So far the Federal Government has funded a free program where strata properties are inspected and recommendations are made on mitigation, while the State Government has introduced an income-tested Household Resilience Program, which provides a grant of 75 per cent of the cost of improvements up to a maximum of $11,250.

In 2015, the Northern Australian Insurance Premiums Taskforce report found North Queensland strata properties were paying five times the premiums of similar properties in southern cities.

Mr Nickless said the ACCC and the Queensland Government have to look at solutions and "not just highlight the problem".

The strata body urged strata owners to register for the free North Queensland Strata Title Inspection Program, which is operated by James Cook University and aims to increase the resilience of properties.

>>For more information on the program email: stratatitle@jcu.edu.au