The Property Council recently submitted to the Federal Assistant Treasurer, Hon Senator Helen Coonan, a proposal listing areas where governments could make a contribution to resolving the problems caused by the withdrawal of many local and overseas insurers from the market for public liability insurance.
Where property owners have been able to secure public liability insurance, premiums have increased by up to 600%. These increases flow through from property owners to tenants and small businesses in the form of increased outgoings and to unit holders and superannuants.
The Property Council's proposals included a reduction of stamp duty on insurance premiums, adoption of nationally consistent compulsory pre-litigation processes, a uniform reduction in the statute of limitations for public liability claims, structured settlements rather than lump sum payments, legislation to encourage pool insurance schemes, and increased community education in this area.
The ministerial meeting on public liability insurance on 27 March 2002 did result in a joint communique including an agreement to legislate to encourage structured settlements and encourage group insurance buying where appropriate and recommendations for tort law reform. Those outcomes were endorsed at the COAG meeting on 5 April 2002 where it was agreed that these issues are to be addressed in a nationally-coordinated way and from a whole-of-government perspective.
COAG also placed a high priority on constructive tort law reform and noted that a working group will be consulting and developing practical measures for public liability insurance for consideration by governments by 30 April 2002.