First up this week I would like to thank the enormous number of people who rang or wrote in support of my article explaining the unworkability of the Victorian Fire Service Levy. I thought my iPhone was going to have a meltdown. All those that contacted me agreed that something had to be said and clearly I am not alone in my absolute frustration. Of particular interest was the number of employees of insurers who are equally ropeable at the situation that we find the insurance industry and our customers in.
What was equally interesting was the number of people said that while they hated what was going on, they would rather cast a donkey vote than vote the current Labor Party. A great deal of work clearly has to be done to undo all the brand damage they have suffered.
As requested, I will not publish the responses but will honour your wishes to remain anonymous.
Readers would have noted that another two major insurers have increased the Fire Service Levy payable on all Victorian policies. The first insurer has also made the decision not to allow the pro-rating of the Levy where the broker has asked that a policy subject to the tax be extended to July 1, 2013.
While I have had literally dozens of technical insurance questions that I have answered via email and would prefer to be concentrating on in this blog, I find myself again being diverted due to my being in strong disagreement with the Insurance Industry’s peak bodies on the subject of taxes and levies.
It was pleasing to see that the opposition in Victoria is now starting to take an interest in the Fire Service Levy due to last week’s post.
This week the budget included a dividend of $100 million to be paid out of the Terrorism Pool. It is not one, but two bodies that I take an opposing view on insurance taxes. I do not disagree with all they say, particularly on the token allowance made by the Federal Government on flood mitigation in this budget.
Why I am so frustrated is the lack of a strong voice in the industry and as a result the insurance industry and more importantly its customers, and the economy as a whole, remain at risk due to under-insurance and non-insurance. The Victorian Government only has a 2-seat majority. What they have done with the transition of the burdensome Fire Service Levy is woeful and if the industry stood up and put out a hard-hitting press release like the mining industry or any other major industry would have done in such a way that the insuring public understood it, not only would the Victorian Government be forced to change what is simply bad public policy, but the Federal Government may not have joined the bandwagon while it would have put the New South Wales and Tasmanian Governments who at this stage still retain the Fire Service Levy. It would also ensure that the Industry had more of a voice of reason in the transition of the Fire Service Levy in those states when they finally take the burden off their constituents.
Every week we see advertising firms on the Gruen Factor come up with advertising campaigns to sell the worst of products or services. Explaining the rip off of those businesses and home owners that insure would be a walk in the park for such an expert.
I genuinely believe that the people of Victoria deserve to be told why their insurance is, in some cases, double that of Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia rather than businesses and home owners buying less insurance and risking everything they have worked for. What is so radical or wrong with this?
After my continuing frustration of thinking that all governments believe the insurance industry is a bottomless pit of cash to tax, I have found the time to post the more interesting/important of the questions put to me this week by readers.
Finally, please keep in mind the new Masters of Insurance Law and Practice degree offered by Victoria University, which will start next semester. If you would like more details, please drop me a note for I am honoured to be the course director.