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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

NIBA CEO looks to calm fears over UFIs

NIBA and the Australian Insurance Law Association (AILA) will deliver a breakfast seminar in Brisbane next month to address concerns surrounding the use of UFI’s in Far North Queensland.

NIBA CEO Dallas Booth will present the seminar, which is open to all in the insurance industry, and will try to calm the fears of brokers across the country following the Government decision to allow UFIs a greater scope in the Australian insurance market.

“After that announcement occurred, there was quite a deal of commentary, quite extensive commentary, and in many cases expressions of quite strong concern from many places,” Booth said of the Government proposal.

“My feeling was that some of the comments were not as well informed as they might have been and I got the impression also that quite a few people didn’t really appear to understand what the current laws and regulations for UFIs are and how it works.

“The fact that insurance brokers place over $1 billion a year with foreign insurers already and so there is a whole framework there so I thought let’s just provide some good, basic background information for how this foreign insurer process works and also provide some background to how might it work in context of the issues in North Queensland.”

Booth will look to calm the fears of many brokers across Australia that see the UFI plan as a mistake.

Robert Cooper, director of Cooper Professional Risk, organised the event alongside NIBA and AILA and is looking forward to hearing Booth’s point-of-view.

“I always try to look long term and I think the Senator’s call is a bad one, so I welcome Dallas trying to put his point of view over.

“Opening up our doors to more foreign competition is a very big change. If we are reassured by Dallas’s words, great we can move on. If there are a lot of unanswered questions, well we will have to see where we go from there,” Cooper continued.

Booth sees clarification as key and thinks brokers should wait for more guidelines from Government before making decisions on whether the initiative is a positive or negative for the industry, consumers and residents of disaster-hit areas.

“The key word is clarify. The minister said the government would clarify the roles of UFIs and brokers taking business to UFIs - especially were better pricing might be available.

“As soon as the announcement started to be reported, I think all sorts of people assumed all sorts of things and possibly jumped to conclusions that might have been a bit premature. I don’t share the major issues or concerns that people have had.

“The government hasn't announced wholesale entry of foreign insurers or unauthorized insurers into the Australian market, that’s not what they've announced."

Booth believes that, even with foreign insurers in the Australian market that the “local market has a massive advantage in terms of being on the ground, being able to support, assess and respond to claims.”

“The Australian insurance industry does a phenomenal job when it comes to natural disasters. We’ve seen what’s happened with the Brisbane storm last year and the extent to which the industry has responded.

“The insurance industry in Australia does a phenomenal job and that gives them a massive advantage just in terms of the practical effects of getting claims assessed and paid when damage occurs.”

With the March implementation date set by Government rapidly approaching, Booth said that NIBA will update its members across Australia as soon as they had more information on the proposed plans.

Government said they want these things implemented by March, which isn't too far away, so I’m expecting developments to occur. Whether it is draft proposals, draft regulations, particular wording – I’m expecting to see more detail over the course of the next month or so, and as we see that, we will certainly report that to members and be giving our commentary to members Australia wide.”

To register for the breakfast, which takes place in Brisbane on February 10, click here

Article Extracted from IBO 27/01/15

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