Mike Hosking: We need to face up to growing insurance threat

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thu, 20 Feb 2020, 8:14PM
The bush fires have made parts of Australia uninsurable - the same could happen here. (Photo / File)

Mike Hosking: We need to face up to growing insurance threat

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thu, 20 Feb 2020, 8:14PM

Looks like the nightmare is real.

The same way we seemingly refuse to make some of the major calls around things like water, we are burying our head in the sand over insurance.

QBE has told us parts of Australia, to use their words, aren’t worth the risk, that they are uninsurable.

And so it begins.

The fact there are still people living there doesn’t seem to matter, but the fires swept through, and what they have decided is that those who like a headline have immediately attacked the “greedy” insurance companies for deserting rural Australia.

But in terms of insurance, their market is our market.

Many companies operate in both, have ownership tie ups in both, and although we aren’t a country that burns like Australia, we are a country where bits of it are increasingly problematic to cover.

Now this isn’t new, and that’s the frustration. The same way it’s not news that towns run out of water in summer, or don’t produce drinking water that’s safe or discharge their storm water into the ocean then close the beaches.

Foresight is a lost art, vision has vanished, and long term planning has all got just a bit hard.

Whether you’re on the beach or the edge of a cliff, the insurance industry is and will continue to look long and hard at you. And that’s before we get to the nation’s capital city and its ongoing quake issues.

So the big question is “when”, and its now, given QBE’s decision. A definite “when”, not if. When they tell you your insurance is $10,000 a year instead of $900, what are you going to do? Or when they tell you because the river floods too often so there is no insurance, what are you going to do?

And what are communities going to do when the insurance isn’t there, and the value of the property plummets and the population dwindles and it all becomes a vicious cycle?

The suggestion here has been government insurance. And what good is that given that will be a company paid for by the tax payer literally dealing in all the stuff no one else wants to touch?

Do insurance companies have a social morale and legal responsibility to share the load and not cherry pick?

Do we have enough competition in the insurance industry to ensure we aren’t held to ransom by a tiny clique of multi nationals who are happy to be here as long as the profits flow, then get on the plane out when they don’t?

Who is making these calls? What’s the plan of action?

The writing is on the wall, and it got real this week in Australia.

They don’t have answer. What about us? At what point does our inability to face up to these real, growing and clearly omnipresent result in us actually making a few decisions