Negotiations between QBE and artists over proposed changes to its policy terms for work undertaken at heights have ended and an agreement reached.
Artists had urged QBE to rethink planned height-rule policy changes which were due to come into effect next month.
“NAVA has negotiated a reasonable solution with QBE and we are looking forward to written confirmation of this from the broker, Local Community Insurance Services (LCIS),” National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) Executive Director Penelope Benton told insuranceNEWS.com.au.
QBE, which has provided discounted insurance for NAVA members for over a decade, says it is “pleased to be maintaining affordable cover” for artists working at heights of up to 15 metres.
“We thank NAVA for their collaboration and look forward to continuing to support the visual arts community,” the insurer told insuranceNEWS.com.au.
In August, NAVA was notified by LCIS, which arranges its cover, that from next month QBE planned to impose new policy rules regarding heights, excluding some from eligibility for cover and increasing premiums for others.
NAVA says planned changes to the Premium Plus insurance policy included that artists working at heights greater than 5 metres would no longer be eligible for the insurance package, while heights of 2-5 metres would incur an additional annual premium of more than $600 and less than 2 metres almost $100.
A “critical meeting” was held by artists with QBE on Thursday to overturn the planned policy changes, Ms Benton said, which the association feared would have seen Australians abandon the sector because it “won’t be feasible for them to pursue a career.”
“The changes would have made premiums out of reach for many artists and arts workers and excluded others from eligibility entirely. For the last few weeks, NAVA has been advocating to negotiate the changes to a workable solution for the thousands of artists and arts workers we represent.”
Artist members are grateful for the discounted insurance NAVA is able to offer through a group policy with QBE, brokered by LCIS, Ms Benton says.
“NAVA deeply values QBE’s contribution to the careers of Australian visual arts, craft and design practitioners over the last decade through this insurance package. We look forward to written confirmation of proposed amendments (to the planned height term changes) following our negotiations with the insurer.”
NAVA currently has almost 3000 artists relying on the insurance, and thousands more at other organisations have also benefitted.
The QBE Premium Plus Membership cover, which costs $316 a year, includes cover for Personal Accident up to $1000 a week, Public Liability and Products Liability of $20 million, Professional Indemnity of $5 million, Property in Custody or Control of $250,000 and Tenants Liability of $10 million. In May, practitioners who use a kiln were required to pay an additional $94, and those using an open flame an extra $119.
According to the government’s Safe Work Australia website, there were 499 work-related falls from height resulting in fatality between 2003 in 2021, the third highest cause.
QBE acknowledged the proposed amendments “created confusion,” and said its ongoing support for the visual arts community was “an important privilege for our business”.