Insurance for low income Australians: Taking innovative action

Good Shepherd Microfinance has released a discussion paper calling on government, insurers and the community sector to work together to provide insurance cover for Australians living on low incomes.

Insurance for low income Australians: Taking innovative action explores the issues and potential barriers to offering a targeted insurance product for some of Australia’s most vulnerable people.

According to Dominic Collins, Innovation Manager at Good Shepherd Microfinance, costs, distribution, regulation, affordability and demand are just some examples of the current barriers facing Australians living on low incomes who wish to obtain insurance.

“What is vital is to find some way of protecting those who are least able to absorb or recover from unexpected losses,” said Mr Collins.

“Insurance is an essential element of being economically included, providing benefits far beyond restoring a policyholder to their former position should they suffer a loss.”

Mr Collins said there was an opportunity to reach many potential customers, improve industry reach, promote a valuable product, address current financial exclusion concerns.

“We know internationally that it is possible to insure this market sustainably and affordable with creative products and collaboration, so there is no reason why it cannot be offered in Australia.”

Good Shepherd Microfinance is concerned that many people who are already struggling financially do not have insurance for their home or contents.

“While all insurance products will not be appropriate for all people, higher insurance uptake has benefits for many stakeholders as it increases resilience, protects assets, reduces the burden on welfare and relief agencies, and provides peace of mind for the insured that they can confidently accrue assets or use a motor vehicle,” said Mr Collins.

Good Shepherd Microfinance Acting CEO Michelle Crawford acknowledged the National Australia Bank for their contribution to the initial stages of this work, and called for all stakeholders to be involved.

“Our partnership with NAB has been very successful in assisting Australians living on low incomes, and their contribution to addressing noninsurance is appreciated. I encourage all stakeholders to respond to our discussion paper and we look forward to collaborating with community, government and industry”, Mrs Crawford said.

Responses to the discussion paper are due by Friday 19 April, and the paper is available from the Good Shepherd Microfinance website, http://goodshepherdmicrofinance.org.au

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