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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Confusion over fire levy

Goulburn Valley residents are concerned about being over-charged after a change in fire levy payment method.

DARREN LINTON February 4, 2013 4:09am

The shift of the fire services levy payment from insurance premiums to a property-based charge collected as part of council rates is creating some confusion.

Member for Benalla Bill Sykes said anyone with concerns about the amount of fire services levy being charged by insurance companies on renewal notices should contact the Office of the Fire Levy Services Monitor.

‘‘My office has been contacted by numerous constituents unsure whether they have been charged the correct amount of fire services levy on insurance renewals,’’ Dr Sykes said.

From July 1, 2013 a new property-based Fire Services Levy will be collected by local government and replace the current arrangements where a levy is charged through insurance premiums.

‘‘People want assurance that they are not being overcharged by insurance companies as the changes are being phased in,’’ Dr Sykes said.

Professor Allan Fels has been appointed the Fire Services Levy Monitor for a two-year period to oversee the transition to the new levy and to provide advice to consumers and the insurance industry.

Dr Fels has made it clear he will ensure that insurers genuinely phase out the existing insurance-based levy.

‘‘I am pleased that the monitor has made it clear to insurance companies that they will be under close scrutiny to remove the fire services levy from insurance premiums,’’ Dr Sykes said.

The office of the Fire Levy Services Monitor is now operational with a hotline and website launched last week.

‘‘I understand that investigations have commenced of a number of complaints about insurers’ conduct in relation to the levy,’’ Dr Sykes said.

‘‘Many of these complaints relate to pricing.’’

Insurers may face fines of up to $10million for continuing to charge extra on premiums to cover the fire services levy.

Anyone concerned about their insurance premium can contact the Office of the Monitor by visiting www.firelevymonitor.vic.gov.au, emailing enquiries@firelevymonitor.vic.gov.au or phoning the hotline on 1300300635.

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