Focus Dec 13

Published 2014-04-17


Like most Australians, my family and I have looked on in disbelief, and been saddened by the latest devestation unfolding on our television screens. I am not an insurance broker, nor do I claim to be, however with the present disasters testing our nation, it’s probably time to call your insurance agent or broker for a chat.

Insurance companies agree that the most common reason for home owners being caught short when disaster strikes is not that they have no insurance at all but that what they have is inadequate. Under insurance is an insidious thing, once people take out home and contents insurance they tend to think they’re covered. They file their policy away and don’t look at it from one year to the next. It’s a bit like thinking you’re healthy and not bothering to have regular medical check ups. Contents insurance particularly should be updated once a year, especially if the home owner has made significant purchases.

This way if you fall victim to fire, theft, storm or other disaster you won’t find that you’ve just spent thousands on a new lounge suite or the latest in computer technology only to realise that your contents cover hasn’t kept pace with your rate of acquisition. You can choose from indemnity type insurance or new for old, but the latter offers greater benefits. You pay more for new for old but instead of getting the cash value of the insured items less depreciation you end up getting what it would actually cost to re-stock your cupboards, re-furnish your

rooms and so on with brand new items. Insurance companies are able to value

every household item from the contents of your pantry to your little girl’s Barbie doll collection. Building insurance also offers a choice of indemnity or new for old. Once again the preference is for the latter because the insurance company will not only replace your

home but also cover the cost of demolishing any remains, rubbish removal and so on.

With indemnity insurance if your home burns to the ground the company replaces your home

less depreciation only. Obviously the older your decor, the more you stand to gain from paying the higher premium and having the new for old option.

It pays to do your homework, compare the benefits and costs of several insurance companies before committing to any particular company or policy. But one statistic that nearly all insurance companies agree on is that fifty percent of home owners are under insured.


Prospective purchasers sometimes say they feel their privacy is being invaded when agents ask for their name and telephone number. They are concerned that the agent will ring and pressure them to buy a house they don’t want. There are agents who operate in this way. But the more professional agents have up to date training and marketing strategies and they don’t rely on outmoded foot-in-the-door techniques. Purchasers who buy under pressure usually get cold feet before the contract is exchanged regardless. It’s a negative result for all parties concerned. The agent would have done better to acknowledge that the purchaser didn’t yet have enough market knowledge to be sure of their decision.

What many purchasers need is more information. Agents who record purchaser details can provide service to both vendors and purchasers alike. From the vendor’s point of view it is important that agents follow up after inspections when purchasers have had time to make comparisons. Vendors can use this feedback to make informed decisions about the validity of marketing strategies, pricing and presentation. The main advantage to purchasers is that they are retained on file so that they can be amongst the first to be contacted when new properties come on the market. After all, many sought after properties are sold before the ad has a chance to hit the press.

Letting agents keep in touch is also an easy way of staying up to date with

what is selling for what price. If you know an agent has a local reputation for professionalism and results, you can only gain by leaving your details - and you can always refuse if you know that an agent has a reputation for being pushy. You can always ask them to take your details off their mailing and calling lists.