NSW has moved a step closer to a fairer system of funding fire and emergency services, with legislation to make way for the Emergency Services Property Levy (ESPL) passing Parliament overnight.
The Government in December announced it would abolish the insurance-based Emergency Services Levy (ESL) from 1 July 2017 and replace it with the ESPL, to be paid alongside council rates.
The Monitor will be responsible for ensuring that insurers pass on the benefits of abolishing the ESL to households and businesses, in the form of lower insurance premiums.
Professor Allan Fels AO and Professor David Cousins AM have been appointed as the Emergency Services Levy Monitor and Deputy Monitor.
“There can be no stronger advocates for ensuring the savings are passed on to households and I am thrilled that Professors Fels and Cousins will be leading this process,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“Under the new system, all property owners in NSW will contribute to the cost of our essential and valued fire and emergency services through the ESPL.
“The change will also help address the serious issue of underinsurance in NSW by improving the affordability of insurance for property owners. The Emergency Services Levy Insurance Monitor will play a critical role in ensuring customers receive these benefits.”
Prof Fels and Cousins performed the same roles in Victoria, when the state underwent a similar transition from an insurance-based levy based on the recommendations of the 2009 Bushfires Royal Commission.
The Emergency Services Levy Insurance Monitor will be charged with working closely with the insurance industry to oversee the transition to ensure that insurance premiums are reduced in line with the savings.
The Monitor will set guidelines, deal with customer complaints, and take enforcement action against any insurers not passing on the savings to customers. The Monitor may seek to impose fines of up to $10 million where insurers engage in prohibited conduct.
“The existing insurance levy increases the cost of insurance by around 20 per cent for residential policies and 40 per cent for commercial policies,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“Abolishing the insurance-based levy will reduce the cost of insurance premiums, enabling more people and businesses to take out insurance to protect their properties from fire, floods, storms and other natural disasters.
“This fairer system will also bring NSW in line with all other mainland states, which have already moved away from an insurance-based levy to a property-based levy.”
Today the Government has also launched a new website to provide information around the change to how the levy will be collected and what this means for NSW residents: www.emergencyservicespropertylevy.nsw.gov.au