ANTHONY KEANE | News Corp Australia Network
HAVE you become your own insurance company and don’t know it?
Millions of Australians don’t pay for private health insurance, instead choosing to rely on their own means and Medicare, but millions more are unknowingly self-insuring themselves in areas such as personal insurance and home and contents.
While having an emergency fund to cover surprise expenses is always a good idea, insurance covers the big problems — theft, fires, floods, disability or death.
Self-insurance is a strategy that can work for wealthy people. However, for many others it’s dicing with danger.
HOME AND CONTENTS
Understandinsurance.com.au spokesman Campbell Fuller says insurance enables people to protect their assets for a relatively small fee, and without it most people don’t have the financial capacity to resume the same standard of living if their home gets destroyed or badly damaged.
“We know that two-thirds of renters and 7 per cent of homeowners don’t have contents insurance,” he says.
“We also know that eight in 10 households believe they are underinsured for their home and contents. That’s a form of self-insurance — they are saying they’re prepared to roll the dice.”
You can check your level of cover with a quick room-to-room stocktake at your home, and there are online tools that help with this. Understandinsurance.com.au has just updated its home and contents calculators to reflect the rising cost of rebuilding houses.
Your own car might be a cheap rust bucket, but what if you accidentally hit one of the many Mercs or BMWs that grace our roads these days?
“The compulsory schemes that every state and territory has in place are only for personal injury to road users,” Fuller says.
“It doesn’t protect you for damage to your own vehicle or damage your vehicle may cause to other vehicles.” Instead of choosing top-of-the range comprehensive car insurance, you could opt for third party property, fire and theft cover.
Death, disability and income protection cover are all areas where Australians are heavily underinsured, research has found.
While death cover might be inappropriate for the very young and unnecessary for older, richer people, anyone with dependants should have it — and disability and income protection insurance is important for all workers.
Wotherspoon Wealth director Simon Wotherspoon says personal insurance protects against “those disaster events that can blow you out of the water.”
“One of the things I find is people think they are covered because they have insurance within their superannuation fund, but it’s not the comprehensive cover they might think it is,” he says.
There’s plenty of free online life insurance calculators that can help you check if your family is protected.