Anger in Cairns as home premiums soar
MORE than half of Queensland residents, including those in the Far North, surveyed by consumer watchdog Choice have been slugged with increases by as much as five times in their latest property insurance premiums.
It has prompted Choice to warn insurance companies to "clean up their act" and not use the Queensland floods as a reason to jack-up premiums or abandon residents in flood-prone areas.
Choice chief executive officer Alan Kirkland said research had found many consumers had been hit with massive hikes in their home and contents premiums as a result of mandatory flood cover or repricing of existing cover.
"Consumers are seeing their premiums double, triple and in some instances increase five-fold with often inappropriate justification from the major insurers as to why," he said.
"Nearly 60 per cent of 1435 people surveyed by Choice noticed an increase on a recent renewal notice, and when a reason for the increase was recalled, it was almost always flood-related.
"One minute major insurers have been telling consumers the price rises are necessary due to the large payouts from the 2011 floods, while the next they are saying the rises are because a property has been specifically checked out and identified as being in a high-risk flood zone."
Edge Hill resident John Tscheppera urged policyholders to question price increases.
"Last year my insurance (on a Mayers St home) was $1545. This year it went up 25 per cent to $1937.75," he said.
The pensioner said he refused to accept the rise, contacted the insurance company and after demanding an explanation, had the premium reduced to $1549, $4 more than in 2012.
"Don't let these insurance companies rip you off. I checked out another insurance company and they wanted $3000."
The Insurance Council of Australia said it would not respond to the Choice report.
However, communications general manager Campbell Fuller said the cost of natural disasters, including cyclones, storms and floods, had a significant impact on insurance premiums as companies adjusted their pricing to take account of individual risk levels, with sharper increases in areas that had a history of natural disasters or an exposure to future events.
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Stand firm: Edge Hill's John Tscheppera challenged his premium rise and had it reduced. Pictures: ANNA ROGERS