Insurer abandons Queensland towns
Suncorp Insurance has left residents of Emerald and Roma in the lurch after it announced it would refuse all new insurance policies to householders in the region. No other insurers offer policies in the area.
The small Queensland towns were hit hard by floods in recent years. Suncorp said on May 7 no new policies for home and contents insurance would be offered until flood mitigation works, including flood levees, are built around the two towns. Premiums for existing policy holders are due to rise dramatically.
Central Highlands Mayor Peter Maguire told the May 8 ABC Online that the council has requested Suncorp reverse its decision. He said: “Where we are developing the town on the eastern side, the greater 99% of the land over that side does not flood. We'd like to get them to relook at the whole process.”
Local Government Association of Queensland spokesperson Greg Hallam wants Suncorp and other insurance companies to help fund flood mitigation.
“The sheer cost of building these diversions is so high it is beyond the ratepayers of Roma and Emerald -- it would cripple those councils,” he told the ABC Online.
Suncorp said it had taken $4 million in premiums from town residents, but paid out $150 million in claims over the past two years.
The private insurance industry is in disgrace for delays and refusals to pay out for property damage in the devastating Queensland floods last year.
The obvious answer is to re-nationalise Suncorp and set up a new state-owned insurance company to take insurance for natural disasters and other accidental events out of the hands of the private sector, which is only interested in profits for its shareholders, and not the wellbeing of residents and homeowners.