Wollondilly Council to advocate for businesses, residents experiencing insurance challenges

There is no doubt the shire has been through its fair share of natural disasters in recent years.

However, Wollondilly councillor Blair Briggs says there is one industry slowing the region's recovery efforts.

Cr Briggs raised a notice of motion at a recent council meeting calling on the government to seek "urgent action to assist Wollondilly businesses and residents to access essential insurance products without incurring significant increases in premiums, or in some instances denial of insurance cover".

"In our shire today there are many, many, many people, who, if they have insurance, have significantly decreased cover - it's a problem," he said.

"It is such in Australia that 75 per cent of insurance is owned by four companies - names that we are very familiar with - NRMA or Shannons or GIO are the resellers of insurance products.

"It is the underwriters that call the shots and 75 per cent of that market in Australia is controlled by just four companies.

"So they've decided that they are getting a bitter taste in their mouth with life in Australia - we know that we are getting extreme weather, we know all that is going on."

Cr Briggs said it was getting harder for towns to remain resilient in the face of rising insurance costs.

"It's pretty difficult to see resilience occuring when you hear of people's premiums increasing by 100 per cent, premium increases of around 40 to 50 per cent or even denial of cover for homes that are built out of timber," he said.

"These are not owners of properties that have been impacted by fire or flood, they just happen to be in a postcode.

"It's an extraordinary problem which is on the tip of an iceberg at this very moment.

"There are people who are under-insured, not insured and who simply, through no fault of their own, no longer have that tenure of security that they ought to have.

"I think its time that this conversation get a little louder and we put pressure on the government as best we are able, to ensure that our advocacy is heard."

The council will now write to small business minister Damien Tudehope, Wollondilly MP Nathaniel Smith, Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell and the Insurance Council of Australia to highlight 'the difficulties and challenges faced by businesses and residents... accessing insurance products following the impacts of fires and floods'.

The letter will also ask for a review of the existing insurance regulatory environment 'to make insurance more affordable for businesses and residents in Wollondilly thus removing any unnecessary barriers to our local recovery'.

Cr Briggs said the government should also consider underwriting policies to ensure Wollondilly's businesses and residents remained covered.

"It's not without precedence that the government does underwrite insurance products," he said.

"CTP is a pretty good example and they are underwriting in floodprone areas in Northern Queensland."

Councillor Michael Banasik was supportive of the plan.

"I noticed my contents insurance in Thirlmere has gone up 60 odd per cent on last year - it's done by postcode," he said.

"Sadly they use disasters as an excuse."

Councillor Noel Lowry said more regulation was needed within the insurance industry.

"I couldn't support this motion more, I wish we could do a lot more," he said.

"I always felt we needed a government body in the insurance industry in particular."