Outback pubs struggling as insurance costs surge

Published: April 13, 2021
Grey nomads and outback pubs

The past year has been a challenging one for Outback pubs, and many are still facing a difficult road ahead.

While grey nomads and other visitors may be starting to find their way out into the regions again, they would need to spend an awful lot of money to help publicans pay the skyrocketing insurance premiums many are facing.

At Dajarra in Queensland, publican Richard Ryan told the ABC he had no choice but to keep his door shut.

“I can’t insure my pub this year,” he said. “I’m sitting here currently not open because I’m trying to negotiate just public liability.”

He said insuring the building cost $8,000 a year when her first arrived, a year ago it was $33,000, and this year he was asked to pay $52,000.

Mr Ryan told the ABC that because the building was more than 70 years old and made of timber many companies would not insure it at all.

“We’re in a situation where we have got 12 months to go on our mortgage and we own it, but we can’t insure it,” he said. “We really can’t sell it either.” 

It was a similar story at the popular Walkabout Creek Hotel in McKinlay, where publican Debbie Wust said insurance went up by $16,000 this year.

“I suppose a wooden pub in the middle of nowhere is not a very good risk, but why would we burn it down?” she told the ABC. “It’s not an option for us — we still owe a lot of money on it.”

Ms Wust said that as she still had a bank loan on the pub, it was a requirement that it be insured.”

“People are pulling up, getting photos, or coming in and taking a photo but not actually spending much money,” she said. “Everyone’s budgets have been stretched with Covid.”

Another Queensland pub owner, Bill Johnston, said he was unable to find an insurer at all.

“We took over this hotel in November 1999 and we had it insured up until the beginning of 2020,” he told the ABC. “I deal with an insurance broker — they just said they tried everyone and they couldn’t get the hotel insured.”

Mr Johnston said that in the period from 1999 to 2020, he spent a quarter of a million dollars on insurance.

“It’s a wooden hotel and an Outback hotel,” he told the ABC. “It makes you feel terrible … after spending a quarter of a million dollars you would think you’d get some loyalty.”

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John & Desley Rodgers
9 months ago

I think that Insurance Companies now sit at the top of the tree ahead of Real Estate Agents, Used Car Salesmen, and Lawyers. Our home Insurance just went up a whopping 38% and think that is a little above the CPI. One is damned if you pay or certainly damned if you don’t.

9 months ago

Insurance is a con
You are better off putting that money aside or making money with it.
How many people pay insurance for decades to have their claims denied or have a measly pay out
I don’t run insurance on vehicles or buildings, did have health insurance for tax reasons but gave that up too. It costs more in long run.
Minimise your risks and keep those dollars in your pocket

Peter Buttge
8 months ago
Reply to  Andy

Totally agree with your assessment. Insurance and superannuation are rip-offs. I haven’t had house & contents for years as premiums continue to rise due to natural disasters. Think about this : every time a house burns down it makes National News. Better odds in winning Lotto. Still got car insurance though.

Ric Moffet
9 months ago

Our insurance almost doubled on our house also, so I found someone else, and lowered it’s value, and managed to get it back to what it was last year, but I had to devalue it $120k. The other company would not let use do agreed value, so after many years with them, told them to shove it, and changed all the insurances over to the new company. Pensioners, can’t afford, thousand dollar increases, on top of 1500 dollar increases in rates. It just is not possible. I feel we will be priced out of our house within the next 5 years.

9 months ago
Reply to  Ric Moffet

only problem with de value is if you ever need to claim they wont pay the full amount

9 months ago
Reply to  paul

They never do anyway

9 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm

Gee Malcolm, any claim I’ve lodged with an insurance company, they have always paid the full amount less the applicable excess. Sure you’re not one of these people who wake up each day looking to be offended by someone or something.

9 months ago

(Paul) is correct – when you devalue something for insurance means that you are “underinsured” and therefore the insurance company is not obliged to pay the full amount of the claim under the Insurance Contracts Act. I do love these “doomsday preppers” like (Andy) who hate Insurance Companies & probably Banks, Telcos, Large Supermarkets, Caravan Parks etc. Could you imagine having a drink during “happy Hour” with someone like that – deadset, you would slash your wrist.

Malcolm Nelson Jeffries
9 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

not mine but maybe his

8 months ago

Dogs and travelling are fine. It is the owners are the problem. If some organisations are good enough to allow you to take your dog “ON A LEAD” then have some respect and do as they ask and use a poop bag. The mindset of “my dog doesn’t cause a problem is just stupid. Some people don’t like dogs ! Don’t ruin it for all of us please.

8 months ago

I haven’t had a house insurance claim in about 15yrs & that was a very small claim. Last year when my insurance went up I started looking around online for quotes & they were all saying I had to insure my house for between $600,000 & $900,000 so then I phoned the companies & was told the same thing. (I do not live in any bushfire, flood or cyclone prone area) My house if I sold it today might fetch $310,000 so I told them I’d keep looking. They said “Good luck with that, we all use the same calculators”. I finally found a company who insured my house for a very reasonable amount. I now have a lot more sympathy & understanding for those uninsured people who lose their houses in a bushfire.

8 months ago

Get a quote from a Quantity Surveyor and then front the insurance company.

8 months ago

this is what happens when elected governments privatise essential services it is about time we, the people, had a good look at who has thier fingers in the community pie – Insurance was once iffered as a govt service to keep the private insurers under control – same fir banks – shame what has happened


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