Many brands, little choice in insurance

Four major insurers dominate the Australian general insurance market, which gives the appearance of choice with the offer of many brands, says the Productivity Commission in a report on competition in the financial system.

The four majors underwrite more than 30 brands while two of the smaller insurers underwrite 50 brands between them. One company underwrites 23 of 25 pet insurance brands.

In some areas of financial services, proliferation of products with slight variations in features has become a burden for providers as well as consumers, says the report.

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Land banking scam exposed

shutterstock_196533755The Federal Government faces calls to regulate property investment advisors in the same way as financial advisors following an exposé of land banking scams.

Many Australians have invested in land developments that will prove to be worthless, having been enticed by high-pressure sales tactics and misled into thinking they are buying land that will soon jump in value.

The Senate Economic References Committee has called for tighter controls on property investment advisors, saying they should be regulated by the Corporations Act.

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How superannuation fails women

Death_to_stock_photography_Vibrant (4 of 10Generous tax benefits for superannuation and limited controls on contributions both magnify how the system works against women, researchers at Curtin University have told the Senate inquiry into economic security for women in retirement.

High-income earners and people with flexible assets that can be moved into super benefit from the structure of superannuation, say researchers from Curtin’s Women in Social and Economic Research (WISER) unit.

“Because women are underrepresented in these groups, they receive a relative small share of the benefits of the increasingly large tax expenditures on superannuation.”

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