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Frequently asked questions

A selection of key questions and answers relating to the Emergency Services Levy reform, the deferral of the reform, and the role of the Monitor are provided below. 

Click on the question of interest to be taken to the corresponding response.  Updates and additional information will be added from time to time. 

Please see attached fact sheet for a summary of how the ESL works, and may be charged this year.

If your question is not answered from the information provided, the The Insurance Monitor and can be contacted via phone on: 1300 607 723 or via email at enquiries@eslinsurancemonitor.nsw.gov.au

Questions and answers

Emergency Services Levy (ESL) reform

  • The introduction of the Fire and Emergency Services Levy (FESL) has been deferred by the NSW Government.  
  • The FESL was due to be implemented on council rates notices issued from 1 July this year.  It will now not appear on rates notices.
  • The Emergency Services Levy (ESL) will remain on insurance policies.
  • Insurance companies will continue to fund the fire and emergency services agencies via the ESL they collect from you. 

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The Emergency Services Levy (ESL)

  • The Emergency Services Levy or ESL, in the past sometimes referred to as the Fire Services Levy or FSL, goes towards funding the fire and rescue emergency services in NSW.
  • Insurance companies are required to contribute almost ¾ of the total budget for these services in NSW each financial year. Most insurers reclaim this amount from their policyholders by charging an ESL with your insurance policy premium.

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  • Your ESL payments go towards funding the budgets for Fire & Rescue NSW, NSW Rural Fire Service and the NSW State Emergency Services.

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  • You pay ESL when you pay your relevant insurance policy premium.
  • Insurance companies may add ESL to the cost of various insurance policies, including: commercial property, residential home and/or contents and motor vehicle insurance (not CTP).
  • The ESL charged on commercial and residential home and/ or contents insurance policies must be itemised on your policy invoice or any other statement.
  • Irrespective of when you take out an insurance policy, be that a few months before the end of the financial year or at the beginning of the financial year, your ESL will go to fund the budget for emergency services in that financial year. (Financial year runs from 1 July to 30 June the following year.)
  • The remainder of the fire and emergency services budget is funded by the NSW Government and local councils.

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  • ESL may be charged with certain types of general insurance policy, including house and contents insurance policies, where it must be itemised separately. A small amount is also included in motor insurance policies ( see below)

Policies which may include ESL

Insurance policy categories which may charge and ESL:

  1. Commercial Property & ISR
  2. Residential building and or contents insurance
  3. Personal combined on Jewellery & clothing, personal effects and works of art
  4. Motor vehicle and motor cycle
  5. Marine & baggage
  6. Combined fire & hail on growing crops & Live stock

*The exact impact of the ESL on total premium costs varies depending on the type of policy and the insurance company.

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Cost of ESL

  • The ESL is not a set government rate or charge, rather it is a charge that is set by each individual insurance company as a means of recouping funds they are obligated to pay to the NSW Government to fund the fire and emergency services. 
  • Each insurer sets a rate of ESL that it believes will be sufficient to reclaim its contribution amount from its customers.
  • This means that different companies may charge different rates of ESL for similar insurance policies.
  • Insurers are required to contribute about ¾ of the total fire and emergency services budget each financial year. This represented about $785 million in 2016-17. 
  • Insurers reclaim their contribution amount from their policyholders by charging an ESL.

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  • Yes, insurers may continue to collect the ESL via your insurance policy.
  • The NSW Government’s plan to remove ESL from insurance policies has been deferred, and as a result, insurance companies will continue to collect ESL with insurance policies.

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  • The amount of ESL you are charged is determined by your insurance company. They will be able to provide information about how much they charge.
  • The ESL is not set by the Government or otherwise a government charge.
  • Insurance companies are required to provide a certain amount of funding for NSW fire and emergency services each financial year.
  • Individual Insurers then charge policyholders an ESL rate that they determine will allow them to reclaim their funding contribution.
  • This may result in different ESL rates being applied by different companies and to different products.  t’.

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  • Questions about how much ESL you are charged should be directed to your insurance company in the first instance.
  • If you believe your insurer is charging too much, it may in your best interests to seek alternative quotes.
  • If you are unhappy with the response you receive from your insurer, you can contact the Insurance Monitor.
  • Complaints may be lodged at enquiries@eslinsurancemonitor.nsw.gov.auPlease ensure you contact your insurer prior to lodging a complaint and attach all relevant documents & correspondence.

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  • You may call the Monitor’s hotline on 1300 607 723 or lodge a complaint online.
  • Complaints may be lodged at enquiries@eslinsurancemonitor.nsw.gov.au. The Monitor encourages you to contact your insurer prior to lodging a complaint. Please attach all relevant documents & correspondence.

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  • If you paid no, or a very low ESL contribution last year, insurers may not seek further payments in relation to that contract. However, it is likely that you may pay a higher ESL charge on your next renewal after 1 July 2017.
  • If you are paying instalments for a policy starting in the 2016-17 financial year, the payments set at the time of renewal should not change.
  • If concerned, contact your insurer in the first instance for more information on how they set the ESL rate.

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  • As each insurance company sets its own ESL rate, rates charged previously and in future may vary from policy to policy and company to company.
  • Contact your insurer for more information on how they set the ESL.

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  • Councils will not levy the proposed Fire and Emergency Services Levy (FESL) and the arrangements for paying the current insurance based ESL will continue.
  • If you believe your council has mistakenly charged a FESL, you should raise the matter with your local council.

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  • Every council contributes each financial year to fund fire and emergency services. While the majority of councils do not itemise this on their rates notice, some do. Some councils will call it ‘ESL’. Others may call it something slightly different.
  • Council’s contributions have not changed.
  • If you believe the ESL itemised on our council rates represents a new charge (possibly a FESL), the Insurance Monitor may look into this on your behalf. Please email details (attaching a copy of your rates notice) to: enquiries@eslinsurancemonitor.nsw.gov.au

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The Insurance Monitor

  • The Emergency Services Levy Insurance Monitor (the Monitor) was initially put in place to oversee the removal of the ESL from the insurance system and to ensure consumers received the full benefits of such removal.
  • Now, the Monitor’s role is to oversee the re-establishment of the ESL.  The Monitor will ensure there is no over-collection , unreasonable pricing or false and misleading conduct in relation to the re-establishment of ESL  .

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  • Please see the contact us page on this website.
  • You may call the Monitor’s hotline on 1300 607 723 or lodge a complaint online.
  • Please ensure you contact your insurer prior to lodging a complaint and attach all relevant documents & correspondence

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  • The Monitor can investigate concerns or complaints made in relation to the ESL reform.
  • If you are unhappy about the explanation given by your insurer in relation to ESL or premium charges, or the information provided by your insurance company, you may contact the Insurance Monitor for further information and assistance.
  • Please see our contact us form on this website.

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  • The Insurance Monitor may use its statutory powers to take action against insurers who charge unreasonably high prices or provide false or misleading information about the effects of the ESL reform.
  • Penalties may be sought of up to $10 million dollars for corporations and $500,000 for individuals that are found to have contravened the relevant legislation.

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