Insurers look to the bottom line

INSURANCE premiums for businesses may rise by between 20 and 25 per cent over the next year as insurance companies set about recouping heavy losses incurred during 2001, according to Banks and Cooper Countrywide Insurance Brokers managing director Peter Banks.

Re-insurance for liability also is predicted to increase, anywhere between 100 and 500 per cent, with some high-risk activities being uninsurable, as insurance underwriters are not prepared to expose themselves to the risk of claims. Events such as the collapse of HIH Insurance, the September 11 terrorist attacks, the collapse of Ansett and the recent bushfires in NSW have contributed to the significant tightening of the insurance market within Australia.

“Re-insurers have put the rates up for the Australian insurance companies quite considerably and, as those rates increase, they have to be passed on to the businesspeople,” Mr Banks told Business News.

Consolidation within the insurance industry is also being attributed to the hardening of the market. Several major organisations, such as AXA, GIO and AMP, have withdrawn from commercial insurance, while the smaller insurance broking companies are slowly but surely being acquired by bigger insurance corporations.

As competition decreases there is more scope for the remaining large insurance companies to increase their rates, using the claim that rate increases have been held over for the last few years, making it more difficult for customers to obtain competitive quotes.

According to Mr Banks, there already are signs that insurance brokers will have to reduce their margins to try and provide customers with reasonable premiums, even though their own insurance premiums and costs are increasing.

OAMPS Westside Insurance Brokers executive director Max Bailey believes the hardening of the insurance market was occurring across the world before last year’s calamities, with most insurers in Australia expecting an increase in re-insurance rates.

Mr Bailey expects insurance premiums for business to increase by at least 25 per cent this year, with a similar lift in 2003 the worst-case scenario.

p Correction

Business News would like to advise that some information within last week’s Book of Company Lists page on Web Developers was incorrect. The correct figures for the Number of Web Developers in WA and the correct ranking order are as follows.

1. DMR Consulting: 30 Web Developers.

2. METHOD: 30 Web Developers.

3. Pretzel Logic: 19 Web Developers.

4. Alphawest6: 17 Web Developers.

5. Internet Business Corporation: 17 Web Developers.

6. Netbridge Systems Integration: 12 Web Developers.

7. Computer Sciences Corporation: 12 Web Developers.

8. Harvestroad Ltd: 10 Web Developers.

9. Vivid Interactive and Design: 10 Web Developers.

Business News apologises for any inconvenience caused.

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