Corporate thieves arise once more

Posted: January 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

The floods in northern Queensland have barely begun to recede in some areas yet we have already seen a regular post-disaster event occur: insurance companies reneging.

It has been reported in the press that insurance companies are already refusing to pay out for destruction of seafood factories in the Bundaberg region.

Why are insurance companies apparently the only part of the wider community that are allowed to contract for provision of a service only to renege in the face of wide-spread demand on realising that contract? They will undoubtedly resort to crying poor if questioned about this seemingly unlawful and regular stunt. We seem to see this in the wake of every large scale natural disaster.

Insurance companies are clearly just as unprincipled as the banks (hardly news to anyone who has had to deal with both). Whereas banks insist their outrageous fees, passing on more-than official rate rises along with refusals to pass on the entirety of any rate decreases, are necessary to just cover costs, the big four banks still manage to achieve literally multi-billion dollar profits each year. Insurance companies in turn like to cry foul when they are called on to honour their obligations in wake of a large-scale natural disaster, similarly protecting their profit margins.

When will we see a government that will actually do something about these corporate thieves?

Treasurer Wayne Swan’s proposals for the banking sector merely tinker at the edges and do not address the root cause – the unaccountability of banks to any but shareholders who benefit by their excesses. Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey’s blustering rhetoric is all very well but he was full of the same bluster in a finance portfolio while part of the Howard government but still failed to do anything meaningful. Any questions raised about the insurance companies basically scamming people will be met with more of the same.

This begs the question of why do governments of any persuasion in Australia continually fail to address these issues properly. Could it be that the big players in the financial services sector simply donate too much to political party coffers, buying themselves protection? More rational answers are rather thin on the ground.

And that’s my rant.

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