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Our Story

Defence Service Homes (DSH) is a unique organisation that has been providing services to the Defence community for over one hundred years. 

From the early months of the First World War, it was clear that a great collective effort by the Australian people would be necessary to equip the nation’s service men and women for their return to civilian life. Governments began to lend a hand and realising the need for greater support, the Commonwealth launched the War Service Homes Scheme (WSHS). The WSHS was established to build homes for returned soldiers and provide loans so soldiers could purchase them.  

As the Commonwealth had a financial interest in the homes built by the WSHS, borrowers were required to have insurance to protect the property against fire and other risks that could damage or destroy the property.  The War Service Homes Insurance Scheme (WSHIS) was established and financed by the insurance premiums paid by those purchasing homes through loans provided by the WSHS.

Over the years, the WSHS and the WSHIS have evolved and are now collectively known as Defence Service Homes (DSH). 

We continue to be of service, offering a personalised and meaningful experience that demonstrates our allegiance, care and commitment to the Defence ‘family’.

Defence Service Homes (DSH) Insurance has a defence-focused insurance expertise and provides competitively priced home building insurance and claims support tailored to all Australian Defence Force (ADF) members and veterans.

The Defence Service Homes Insurance was established in 1919 under the Defence Service Homes Act 1918 as part of repatriation activities for soldiers returning from World War One, and to recognise their service to our nation.

Defence Service Homes Act 1918 amended and legislated from 1 January 2020 expands eligibility to DSH Insurance to all current and former ADF members with at least one day of service including reservists, peacekeepers and widows/widowers of ADF members. Expanding the eligibility requirements addresses the disparity in previous eligibility criteria and recognises the service commitment of all those who have served in the ADF. Approximately 350,000 ADF members and veterans who were ineligible are now able to access comprehensive home building insurance offering.

The home building insurance offered through DSH Insurance is a defined events policy (for example fire, water escape and storm) and includes accidental damage for the home, fusion of motors and legal liability cover. DSH Insurance also provides access to personal insurance products such as contents, motor vehicle and caravan insurance through an agreement with QBE (Australia). The Contents policy is designed to complement h the building policy so policyholders have the same experience as having a combined building and contents product.

Product Development and Distribution Policy

Defence Service Homes (DSH) Insurance has a defence-focused insurance expertise and aims to provide competitively priced home building insurance and claims support tailored to our target market comprising of all Australian Defence Force (ADF) members and veterans. 

The Defence Service Homes Insurance was established in 1919 under the Defence Service Homes Act 1918 as part of repatriation activities for soldiers returning from World War One, and to recognise their service to our nation. 

Defence Service Homes Act 1918 amended and legislated from 1 January 2020 expands eligibility to DSH Insurance to all current and former ADF members with at least one day of service including reservists, peacekeepers and widows/widowers of ADF members. Expanding the eligibility requirements addresses the disparity in previous eligibility criteria and recognises the service commitment of all those who have served in the ADF. Approximately 350,000 ADF members and veterans who were ineligible are now able to access comprehensive home building insurance offering.  

The home building insurance offered through DSH Insurance is a defined events policy, which offers protection against a range of events including fire, water escape, storm and includes accidental damage for the home, fusion of motors and legal liability cover. The product is suitable for owner occupiers or landlords who rent the home. 

DSH Insurance also provides access to personal insurance products such as contents, motor vehicle and caravan insurance through an agreement with QBE (Australia). The Contents policy is designed to complement the building policy so policyholders have the same experience as having a combined building and contents product. 

General approach to Product Development and distribution

DSH Insurance reviews and develops the product offering to ensure that products offered meet the legislation requirements within the Defence Service Homes Act, 1918, and also meet the standards that are expected from industry regulators and our eligible customers.

We undertake regular product reviews to determine the product is operating the way it was designed, by taking on board feedback from customers, claims and our sales team, to make sure that our products continue to meet our customer needs and that it is being distributed within our target market. 

Insurance notice documents, Product Disclosure Statement (PDS), Key Facts Sheet (KFS) and Supplementary Product Disclosure Statement (SPDS) assists in highlighting the cover when a policy is purchased

DSH insurance products are sold via our contact centre and sales representatives have been trained regarding product offerings and provide general advice on insurance products.

Administered by Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), DSH Insurance is legislated (Defence Service Homes Act, 1918) and bound by the provisions of the Privacy Act 1988 (the Privacy Act) and the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs). The APPs regulate how we collect, store, use and disclose personal information. 

DSH Insurance will implement the requirements of the General Insurance Code of Practice from July 1, 2021. 
 

Since its inception in 1919, the War Service Homes Scheme (WSHS) was an ambitious, visionary project. As well as providing homes for ex-servicemen, WSHS was seen as a useful way of supplementing Australia’s inadequate housing stock. The War Service Homes Insurance Scheme (WSHIS) has been a constant throughout the history of the WSHS with borrowers required to insure their property.

The first home constructed under the WSHS was completed by September 1919, and applications for assistance grew steadily. However, due to the Depression in 1929, no new building loans were sanctioned by WSHS until 1935 when working and income conditions began to improve.

The outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 added to what appeared to be a slow decline of the WSHS. The majority of returned soldiers from the First World War had taken up their entitlements or found their own accommodation, the economy had slowed because of the war effort and few resources were available for housing projects.  It soon became clear, however, that the existing cohort of veterans would shortly be joined by a second wave from the renewed global conflict. Consequently, eligibility for the WSHS was extended to those who had served overseas during the Second World War.

WSHS annual expenditure on the provision of new homes had reached an impressive £16 million in 1949-50, a huge jump from the £2 million of 1946-47, and climbed again to £25 million in 1950-51.

In the 1950’s eligibility was expanded to those who served in Malaya and Korea. The maximum loan amount was raised to £2,750 in response to growing prosperity in Australia with increased incomes and building costs.

Eligibility was further expanded in 1962 to include ex-service members who had undertaken ‘special duty’ in a prescribed ‘special area’.  These area’s included Malaya, Borneo Sabah, Sarawak and South Vietnam.

By 1969, when WSHS was 50 years old, more than 280,000 homes had been provided – almost 10 percent of the total housing stock in Australia, and WSHIS was considered the largest home insurance scheme in the country with 196,000 homes insured.

In 1972 eligibility for WSHS was expanded to include peacetime efforts and in recognition of this, was renamed the Defence Service Homes Scheme (DSHS).

By 1973 the DSHS was being administered as part of the Department of Housing and Construction, while the insurance component, now labelled the Defence Service Homes Insurance Scheme and commonly referred to as DSH Insurance, was operating separately.

DSH has navigated through many legislative and administrative changes over the years, including the historic sale of the Defence Service Housing portfolio to Westpac in 1988. Despite the initial intention to include the insurance component as part of the sale, this aspect of the plan was let go, and DSH Insurance remained a distinct component of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (of which it had become a part in 1976). This was partly because DSH Insurance was (and is) entirely self-funding, and partly a result of a reputation for outstanding service to the Defence community.

The Department continues to manage the portfolio of DSH loans with Westpac, who it pays subsidies towards, to ensure clients receive a competitive interest rate.  The Department also manages subsequent loan schemes established for Defence Force members including the Defence Home Owner Scheme and the Defence Home Ownership Assistance Scheme.

Since 1989, DSH Insurance has continued to flourish, with new initiatives further enhancing the products provided to the Defence community. For example, in 1990, DSH Insurance entered into a partnership with Mercantile Mutual (who were subsequently bought by QBE Insurance (Australia) Ltd) to provide access to contents insurance, and in 2012 this arrangement was extended to other QBE insurance products including motor vehicle, caravan and landlord insurance. Our reputation has correspondingly strengthened, demonstrated by high levels of client satisfaction.

With over 100 years’ experience, DSH Insurance is a keycomponent of Australia’s repatriation endeavour. Our recent change in eligibility, which took effect from 1 January 2020, and now includes all those who have served at least one day in the Australian Defence Force, further increases the number of veterans and current serving members who are able to access the benefits provided by DSH Insurance.

We continue to be of service, providing a personalised and meaningful experience that demonstrates our allegiance, care and commitment to the Defence ‘family’.