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NSW Budget Prioritizes Resilience, Aimed at Insurance Affordability

NSW Budget Prioritizes Resilience, Aimed at Insurance Affordability

The latest NSW budget signals a significant boost for improving insurance outcomes by heavily investing in resilience building and working towards emergency services levy reforms.

Unveiling the 2024-25 budget, the Minns government has announced a substantial allocation of $5.7 billion over the next four years focused on disaster response and natural calamities, with Australian government contributions included.

Among the key initiatives, $525 million is set aside for the Resilient Homes Program in the Northern Rivers and Central West, promoting voluntary home buybacks and flood-proofing just to name a few enhancements. Meanwhile, the Resilient Lands Program will receive $87.4 million aimed at creating new housing and land opportunities in Northern Rivers.

"The focus on resilience is truly commendable," stated Andrew Hall, CEO of the Insurance Council of Australia. "By proactively addressing the need to safeguard properties and human lives from the increasing menace of severe weather, the government is paving the path for improved insurance scenarios."

An equally notable aspect of the budget is the government's renewed commitment to replacing the current insurance-based emergency services levy (ESL) with a property levy mechanism.

According to the budget documents, growing needs for emergency services spurred by climate change and frequent natural disasters are driving the push for change. The documents mention, "Transitioning from the ESL to a broader-based property levy would alleviate the pressure on insurance premiums and distribute the cost more equitably among all property owners."

Insurers have long been advocating for such reforms. Mr. Hall praised the move, remarking, "Eliminating the ESL will definitely reduce insurance costs for customers in NSW. The existing system has long penalized policyholders especially those living in flood-prone areas, already burdened by hefty insurance premiums."

IAG, another major player in the insurance arena, also lauded the budget. Nick Hawkins, CEO and MD, commented, "Measures like voluntary home buybacks, planned relocations, house raising, and retrofits are critical. These steps will not only enhance safety but also secure long-term protection for residents in high-risk zones."

The budget papers project a significant growth in ESL-related revenue, estimating an uptick of $205.6 million by 2027-28 when compared to the previous half-year review of 2023-24. This increase highlights the provisioning of additional resources to elevate emergency services for the NSW community.

For the fiscal year 2024-25, the government anticipates collecting around $1.32 billion in ESL revenue, with projections for the subsequent years being $1.27 billion in 2025-26, $1.22 billion in 2026-27, and $1.24 billion in 2027-28.

However, insurance duty revenues have observed a slight decline, revised downward by $7 million for 2023-24 and by $34 million over the next four years up to 2027-28, a situation attributed to fluctuations in year-to-date collections.

From Insurance News Magazine: How Government Disaster Payouts Could Drive the Search for a "Better Way" on Climate Adaptation.

Published:Thursday, 20th Jun 2024
Source: Paige Estritori

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