TOMORROW the country's consumer watch dog will hand down its final report to the Treasurer after a three-year probe into high insurance costs for Northern Australians and Dawson MP George Christensen said recommendations that "actually do something" to lower premiums must be top priority.

Because of catastrophe ratings for regions like Mackay and the Whitsundays in relation to natural disasters such as cyclones and floods, many home and business owners revealed they struggle to find affordable insurance.

State Government directed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to conduct a wide-ranging investigation into the supply of residential building, contents and strata insurance to Northern Australians.

Damage done to John Hughes' Shute Harbour Road, Airlie Beach home, after being affected by Cyclone Debbie. Picture: Wesley Monts
Damage done to John Hughes' Shute Harbour Road, Airlie Beach home, after being affected by Cyclone Debbie. Picture: Wesley Monts

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The injury, which began in July 2017, was to address concerns over insurance availability and affordability, promote more information and competitive insurance markets in efforts to make a difference for those living in the north.

An initial report found the average northern premium was about double that of southern Australia.

A key recommendation of the ACCC's first interim report handed down in December 2018 was for State Government to either abolish stamp duty or reduce the amount from a percentage to a flat fee.

The ACCC will on Monday release its final report into the Northern Australia insurance inquiry.
The ACCC will on Monday release its final report into the Northern Australia insurance inquiry.

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While a second interim report found the number of uninsured homes in Northern Australia was "significant and growing" with many ditching cover citing they could not afford or justify the cost.

The report found about 17 per cent of households across the north (roughly 62,125 home) did not have insurance.

The ACCC did not make any further recommendations in the second interim report noting state governments had "not indicated any support" for either removing or rebasing stamp duties.

Proponent for the inquiry Mr Christensen said, like many North Queenslanders, he would be looking for recommendations "which will actually do something to substantially lower insurance premiums up here".

Stuart Harris at Shute Harbour with his home that is a boat called
Stuart Harris at Shute Harbour with his home that is a boat called "Munn". It was Wrecked in cyclone Debbie. Pic Annette Dew

"To date, what's come out of the ACCC has just been tinkering around the edges," Mr Christensen said.

"Mitigation and comparison websites will not fix our insurance crisis.

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"The ACCC has received submissions which talk about the substantial reductions to premiums which could come about through the establishment of a government-backed reinsurance pool to defray the high cost of cyclone risk.

"On insurance company has told me such a solution would halve premiums in North Queensland. I hope the ACCC have considered this or other serious measures."


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