Gay & Lesbian Insurance Brokers (GALIB) has come to the rescue of several small community organisations by offering public liability policies at prices which pre-date the collapse of HIH and 11 September 2001.

Director Mark Jenkinson claims that GALIB began sourcing cheaper premiums several months ago in response to mainstream media reports on the insurance crisis. Basically, there were a lot of community groups coming to me because one of the insurers -¦ was not insuring community groups any more, he explained. So I negotiated with several underwriters -“ or have negotiated with one in particular -“ who is keen to write smaller community groups with no problems.

Citing the Southern Cross Outdoors Group as one which GALIB had very recently sorted out, Jenkinson claimed that in at least half a dozen other cases, it’s been cheaper than they were paying normally, which is remarkable.

John Ingrouille, Southern Cross Outdoors Group coordinator, told the Star that they had been negotiating public liability insurance with GALIB, but that nothing had been signed as yet. But from the phone calls we’ve had, and from what Mark has told us, he said, it [the policy] will be quite suitable on the financial side, and cheaper than we had before. We just have to read the proposal and if we find that acceptable, we’ll go ahead with it.

Jenkinson believes that the HIH collapse forced some bigger insurance companies to think twice about offering cheap deals and one-off liabilities. Moreover, he thinks the current view held by the courts on what constitutes negligence and the fallout from 11 September 2001 also contributed to increases in premiums. But I think the summit [ministerial meeting on public liability] was a wonderful idea; thank goodness that a couple of premiers have decided to do something about it, he said. If it was to continue as it was, and each week we were seeing bigger precedents and payouts, the public liability insurance market just would not exist.

He also placed the blame for Australia’s litigious culture on legislative change which permits lawyers to take a percentage of their client’s compensation payout, adding that the Federal Government ban on legal advertising would do little to halt the practice. Until you can prevent solicitors from taking a slice of the action, I think, there will still be major problems, he said. Why they introduced it in the first place, I don’t know. I mean, they knew how litigious America became when the legislation changed there, and then the same thing happened here.

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