Insurance in Australia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Australia's insurance market can be divided into roughly three components: life insurancegeneral insurance and health insurance. These markets are fairly distinct, with most larger insurers focusing on only one type, although in recent times several of these companies have broadened their scope into more general financial services, and have faced competition from banks and subsidiaries of foreign financial conglomerates. With services such as disability insurance, income protection and even funeral insurance, these insurance giants are stepping in to fill the gap where people may have otherwise been in need of a personal or signature loan from their financial institution.

Types of insurance[edit]

Life insurance[edit]

Life insurance products sold in Australia include term life insurance and disability income insurance. Australian insurers are unusual in providing a lump sum Total and Permanent Disability insurance. Life insurers also sell superannuation investment products.[1]

Life insurers[edit]

Some of the life insurance companies which operate in Australia are:

In addition, life insurance is also sold by friendly societies and credit unions.

General insurance[edit]

General insurance products sold in the Australian market can roughly be divided into two classes:

  • Property insurance such as Home and Contents insurance, travel insurance, and comprehensive motor vehicle insurance

Certain types of insurance, such as CTP and worker's compensation, are statutory (i.e. are required by law), and can differ considerably by state.

General insurers[edit]

Large general insurer groups include:

Previous insurers include:

Health Insurance[edit]

The Australian Government provides a basic universal health insurance, Medicare. Private health insurance in Australia is limited to those services not covered by Medicare or to services provided in private hospitals.

The Australian Taxation system encourages middle to high income earners to take out Private Health Insurance. While most taxpayers pay a 1.5% Medicare levy, an additional 1% Medicare Levy Surcharge is payable by those taxpayers who earn more than $88,000 and do not have Private Health Insurance.

Industry structure[edit]

Life insurers were traditionally mutual companies, but in the 1980s and 1990s many of them demutualised and with a few large exceptions are owned by banks. The large remaining insurers have become "financial services" organisations and now derive the majority of their revenue from superannuation investment products.

General Insurers have a more diverse ownership structure, with more stand alone independent general insurers (although some life insurers do own general insurers).

Health insurers are still predominantly mutuals. The notable exception is Medibank Private, the largest private health insurer in Australia, which is owned by theGovernment of Australia.


See main article Australian insurance law

The prudential aspects of general and life insurance (solvency etc.) are regulated by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA). Matters relating to advice or disclosure of insurance products sold are regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) also has a regulatory role with respect to competition law.

In certain states, various bodies also have powers in regulating certain types of statutory insurance. For example, in New South Wales the Motor Accidents Authority regulates Compulsory Third Party motor liability insurance. In many cases these bodies have powers regarding premium rating and reinsurance rules.

Private health insurers are regulated by the Private Health Insurance Administration Council (PHIAC)

The primary federal legislation is:

Industry bodies[edit]

The main industry bodies are:

  • Insurance Council of Australia [1] which represents general insurers.
  • Financial Services Council
  • Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance
  • Underwriting Agencies Council
  • Institute of Actuaries of Australia
  • ACORD [2] which is the insurance industry global standards organisation. ACORD has standards for personal and commercial lines and has been working with the Australian General Insurers to develop those XML standards, standard applications for insurance, and certificates of currency.

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up^ Some of the larger insurance providers have expanded to include services to cover events such as funerals, accidental Injury, accidental Death, income Protection and even bill protection
  2. Jump up^