Voice of Real Australia: Insurance = bills with benefits

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by ACM digital editor Janine Graham.

Insurance a bit of a puzzle to you? Be warned: It just might be about to get worse. Photo: Shutterstock

Insurance a bit of a puzzle to you? Be warned: It just might be about to get worse. Photo: Shutterstock

A wise man once said a mark of maturity was understanding the insurance industry in all its guises.

Clearly, that accounts for that feeling of suspended animation I've had all week. Or I'm a real-life Benjamin Button and ageing backwards at a rate of knots.

Either way, health and building insurance have taken up a good deal of headspace this week. By association that extended to the banking sector - particularly after the release of a report into the financial watchdog, but more on that later.

One building industry veteran in Tasmania already has called it quits on the advice of his insurance broker and more industry professionals are expected to follow.

Master Builders ACT chief Michael Hopkins is not alone in calling for a nationally consistent building code - what an idea!

One country, one code. It reminds me of Tim Fischer's impassioned plea for a standard rail gauge. But anyway ...

The Victorian government has made changes to required surveyor insurance but elsewhere professional indemnity insurance cover is hitting hard.

Tasmania's Steve Bramich said one Launceston engineer's costs rose from $65,000 last year to a quoted $450,000 this year. Negotiation reduced it to $165,000.

It's fair to assume those costs will be passed down the line and end up with ... you and me.

Imagine that was your private health care costs?

As Steve Evans wrote in The Canberra Times, private health insurance isn't for everyone. It's a question of weighing risks in the future against costs in the present.

Exactly who does that when they're 20 and bulletproof? Or even when you're 30?

Unlikely. And you're probably equally unlikely to contact the Australia Financial Complaints Authority.

But in its first six months it received a whopping 35,000 complaints. The majority about the conduct of banks, followed by insurers and credit providers.

The organisation, it said, resolved 60 per cent of complaints, the majority in the complainant's favour.

The most stunning statistic was that a ridiculous $83 million was recovered.

Some of those wins came from Victoria's Wimmera region where the Mail-Times touched base with the director of an accounting firm.

"No doubt some residents do have unpleasant experiences with their financial institutions, but I think rural banks are generally going to outperform city ones," Brian Watts said.

"In a smaller community, people have personal relationships with their lenders and managers and my experience in Horsham is banks provide excellent service."

Ahhh, people. People can help. Who would've thunk it?

Janine Graham, ACM digital news editor

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