Government delay blunts siege insurance response

Terrorism

A leading insurance industry figure has criticised the Federal Government for the length of time it has taken to declare December’s Martin Place siege an act of terrorism.

Last week, Treasurer Joe Hockey declared the deadly siege a terrorist incident but LMI Group Founder Professor Allan Manning says the delay was far too long and has caused frustration for the affected businesses.

“It has been a long and agonising wait for many business owners affected by the forced shutdown of the surrounding streets and business during a peak trading period,” Manning says.

“When a client has paid an insurance premium and on top of that a flat 6% terrorism levy, in some cases for over 11 years, it is not unreasonable to expect that they be provided with some prompt peace of mind and, more importantly, cash flow,” Manning says.

Hockey’s declaration means insurers are prevented from refusing claims on policies that contain terrorism exclusions, with the Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation (ARPC) covering any losses above self-retention limits.

The ARPC estimates the total insured loss is just over $600,000.

Manning says the delays meant many insurers were not able to meet the Insurance Council of Australia’s Code of Practice requirement to respond to claims within ten days of receiving them.

“The insurance industry itself is constantly under pressure to perform in a timely fashion and, if this were any other peril, the government among others would be critical of such a time lag,” he says.