Strata, insurance payments on ACCC radar in 2020

The cost of insuring property in Northern Australia – battered by cyclones every year – has seemed an insurmountable problem since premiums jumped around eight years ago.

Householders and business complain they can’t afford to insure their properties while insurers say the risk of loss is high and they have to price for it. Some insurers have left the market, deliberately priced themselves out of it or stopped taking business when their exposure reaches a certain level.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says insurance markets in northern Australia are characterised by “high prices, high costs and low profits”.

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Overseas student complaints increase

The Commonwealth Ombudsman has called for private education providers to be clearer on fees with international students who have pre-paid for courses.

The Ombudsman investigates complaints by international students against private providers and says the most common complaint is from students wanting pre-paid tuition fees refunded before they have finished their course.

“Students’ ability to seek this refund should be stated in their written agreement with the provider,” it says.

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Charitable donations in Australia

In the 2016-2017 tax year, Australians donated $3.5 billion to charity.

The actual figure will be higher because the figure above comes from tax returns lodged with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Not everyone lodges a tax return and many people make donations but don’t claim for them. There is also all the time donated by volunteers who work in op shops, environmental projects and sit on committees such as kindergarten and school councils.

The ATO notes that for those who did donate, and who it recorded, the average donation was $770.

“The most generous state was Western Australia, with 30% of residents claiming an average deduction of $1,190,” it says.

This is possibly because some very wealthy Western Australians donated large amounts.

The 2016-17 Tax Stats are available here.