Insurance touches many aspects of human activity. Adequate insurance cover is integral to protecting consumers' most valuable assets and to maintaining and protecting the living standards of all Australians and the economy overall. As seen in the wake of a number of natural catastrophes, unsuitable financial products, including insurance, can have significant and devastating impacts on people's lives. To that end, accessibility, transparency, affordability and competition are crucially important features of a well-functioning general insurance market.
The Terms of Reference for this inquiry were:
(a) the increase in the cost of home, strata and car insurance cover over the past decade in comparison to wage growth over the same period;
(b) competition in Australia's $28 billion home, strata and car insurance industries;
(c) transparency in Australia's home, strata and car insurance industries;
(d) the effect in other jurisdictions of independent home, strata and car insurance comparison services on insurance cover costs;
(e) the costs and benefits associated with the establishment of an independent home, strata and car insurance comparison service in Australia;
(f) legislative and other changes necessary to facilitate an independent home, strata and car insurance comparison service in Australia; and
(g) any related matters.
Consequently, most of the evidence received for the inquiry and discussed in this report relates primarily to home and motor insurance.