ACCC push to cut insurance costs

Shannon BeattiePilbara News
Houses in Karratha.
Camera IconHouses in Karratha. Credit: Louise Allingham

A national website comparing home insurance costs was among 13 new recommendations put forward by the consumer watchdog to help those struggling with high premiums in the North West.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission released the second update report of the Northern Australia Insurance Inquiry last week, with the new recommendations joining 15 others which were suggested in the first interim report last year.

The comparison site would be compulsory for all insurance companies and would provide consumers with clear information about their choices.

ACCC deputy chairwoman Delia Rickard, pictured, said at the moment there were a range of commercial comparators, however they did not include Australia’s four biggest insurers.

“The idea is that no matter where you live, you can check what insurance is being offered and have all the companies covered,” she said.

The second update report also recommended giving consumers more control over how their home building claims were settled.

“We heard a lot of dissatisfaction in WA about people who just wanted to employ a local builder to do a small job,but had to wait for the insurer’s builders,” Ms Rickard said.

“Consumers should have a choice on whether they leave the insurer in-charge or take a cash settlement, but if they do take a cash payment, they need to be given a range of warnings about the risk of doing so.”

A spokesman for Federal Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar said the Morrison Government was considering its response to the ACCC’s recommendations.

“The Commonwealth is pressing ahead by extending the unfair contract terms reforms to insurance contracts, consistent with the ACCC recommendation and the Financial Services Royal Commission,” he said.

“We are also getting on with work to improve disclosure in general insurance consistent with the ACCC’s recommendation.”

Ms Rickard said they were hoping to see more of a response from both levels of government on the recommendations.

“We would like to see all of our recommendations implemented because we think together they will make it more transparent for people and will have an impact on prices,” she said.

State acting Treasurer Roger Cook said it was important to note that within the updated report, only four or five recommendations fall within the State Government’s jurisdiction.

“The McGowan Government takes cost of living seriously and this includes the price of insurance and we will continue to look at what is the most effective way to assist WA households,” he said.

As part of the next stage, the ACCC will take a closer look at prices in several towns across Northern Australia, including Port Hedland and Kununurra.

A second interim report is due by November 30 and a final report by November 30, 2020.

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