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News of Federal backing for a reinsurance pool to help bring down premiums in Northern Australia has been welcomed by Queensland councils.

The reinsurance pool would cover cyclone and related flood damage in Northern Australia from July 2022 and was backed by a $10 billion government guarantee, the Federal Government announced this week.

Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) president Mark Jamieson said he would like to thank Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his colleagues for listening to North Queensland Mayors and the LGAQ on this important initiative.

“The LGAQ and our member Mayors have been determined in the campaign for action to bring down the prohibitive cost of insurance for North Queensland residents,” he said.

“Addressing this market failure through a reinsurance pool will mean better access to crucial home and business insurance cover for the more than 61,000 North Queenslanders who up until now have had to go without because the cost was simply too high.”

The need for a reinsurance pool was a key element of the LGAQ’s Federal Budget submission, in support of northern mayors including Townsville’s Jenny Hill and Whitsunday region’s Andrew Willcox.

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Billson said the scheme, proposed to kick in next year, would make insurance premiums more affordable for small businesses in Northern Australia.

He said the scheme, which is broadly in line with a recommendation in ASBFEO’s Insurance Inquiry, would make a significant difference.

“This is certainly a welcome step in the right direction when it comes to ensuring essential insurance coverage is accessible to small businesses,” Mr Billson said.

“Our Insurance Inquiry revealed that small businesses have been crippled by rising insurance costs and some can’t get it at all.

“A reinsurance pool will go some way to addressing this key barrier for small businesses in Northern Australia.”

Speaking on 4CA radio, Mr Morrison said the scheme would put a floor underneath the insurance industry in North Queensland, encouraging more insurance companies into the market and driving down the cost of premiums.

“Now, the government hasn’t said 50 per cent. That’s what others are speculating. We have a more cautious view about that. But let’s just see how that plays out,” he said.

“But what’s important is we’ve got to put that $10 billion of guarantee on the insurance sector up there so we can get more companies in.

“We’ve also got a $40 million program, which is a pilot program for strata title resilience to deal specifically with the problems that we’ve seen, especially up there in North Queensland on strata title arrangements.

“So this is very practical. It’s a real problem. I know it’s been a cause of great concern in the North for a very long time, and this is necessary to ensure that people continue to be able to live and work in North Queensland.”

Insurance relief on North’s horizon