When it comes to buying insurance, you have two choices: buy it online or organise it through a broker. There is much choice available online, however without the right advice; you could be buying the wrong insurance. At best, it might be a waste of money. At worst, you can be significantly out of pocket when it comes time to make a claim.
WHAT CAN GO WRONG – ANDY’S STORY:
Andy* is a new migrant in Australia. He purchased a convenience store in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Although he has decades of business experience in China, it is his first time running his own business. Andy took a long time in comparing different business insurance policies online, and he felt confident in the choice that he made.
In July, heavy rain caused significant water damage to the store’s floor. His landlord refused to do anything to help him. Andy wasn’t able open the convenience store for 3 weeks whilst he arranged for the floor to be made safe and then fixed. Andy called his insurance company, and it felt to him like he could never reach a person to speak to about his insurance claim, and he spent a lot of time on hold.
It turned out Andy didn’t insure for loss of business income, which meant that he had to continue paying rent and salaries although he had no income from sales. Insurance could have helped him cover some of these losses but Andy wasn’t aware that he could purchase this type of insurance.
He eventually got the insurance company to pay for the repairs to the floor, but it took almost four months to finally receive his money, and it didn’t even cover half of the repair costs because the insurance company said that his repairer was too expensive. Andy was incredibly stressed from dealing with the insurance company and the repairer while at the same time trying to operate his business.
Two months later, Andy went to a migrants’ community activity. He made friend with other new migrants who also who operate small businesses. They, too, had bad luck during the year, and had to make a claim on their insurance policy. However, they were pleasantly surprised at how easy the experience was. Poor Andy was shocked!
WHAT SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED – MARK’S STORY:
Andy’s friend, Mark*, purchased a business located in a local shopping mall. Mark’s shop sold cigarettes and magazines. When he purchased his business, his migration agent recommended that he use an insurance broker. As Mark was unfamiliar with running a business in Australia, he decided it couldn’t hurt to follow his migration agent’s advice.
Mark spoke to the insurance broker, and they chatted about his business for about twenty minutes. The insurance broker explained him what could go wrong for his business and told him that there were a lot of burglaries targeting tobacco shops. He recommended that Mark install a back-to-base alarm system. Mark hadn’t heard of this type of alarm system before, but he decided to look into it. They also discussed how much insurance Mark should buy. The insurance broker told Mark that cigarettes are expensive, and he should insure his stock for more money.
His insurance broker came back to him the next day with several options for insurance, all at different prices. Mark asked lots of questions about the different between the insurance products, and tried to understand as much as possible about what the insurance was for. There were many insurance terms that Mark didn’t understand, but his broker was patient in explaining them to him. At the end of the process, Mark felt confident of the choice that he made when buying insurance.
Mark’s shop was also affected by the heavy rains in July. The gutter overflowed, and the water started leaking into the shop. About $8,000 of Mark’s cigarettes were damaged by the water. The first thing Mark did was call his insurance broker. His insurance broker told him straight away not to worry, as the loss would be covered by his insurance.
The next day, a representative from the insurance company came to visit Mark to inspect the damage. Mark didn’t feel confident in his English, but his insurance broker assured him that he had already explained the whole situation to the insurance company. The visit went smoothly, and his broker called him the next day to tell Mark that everything was under control. He told Mark that he could expect his insurance company to pay the claim within the next three weeks.
Mark laughed as he told Andy this story, saying that it was lucky that the insurance broker had done all the hard work for him!
DID MARK PAY MORE FOR HIS INSURANCE?
Buying insurance through a broker can be cheaper than buying it online. This is because brokers have negotiating power with different insurers. Mark ended up with the best value for money insurance policy, as well as professional advice on risk management. On top of that, Mark didn’t feel stressed during the claim as he knew his insurance broker was there to look after him.
Don’t gamble on your livelihood. If cost, convenience, and peace of mind is important to you, it is worth visiting an insurance broker for your home and business insurance.
* Names have been changed
English translation, article originally appearing in the Vision China Times, Melbourne (15 January 2015)
We all know that volunteering is good for your health, improves your mood and lowers your stress levels. In fact, sharing and helping out in the community can become an essential part of your social and career success, whether you are the director of a charity organisation, spend time with the elderly in nursing homes, or help organise community events. For the overseas Chinese population, especially for new migrants, it’s vital to participate and contribute to building strong Chinese communities in Australia.
As valued as it is to give your time to charity, there are risks to consider if you’re working or volunteering in an association or charity such as:
Associations and charities can be subject to lawsuits and losses in the same way that businesses are, and so it’s important for members and volunteers, particularly those who on boards or committees of associations, to consider the below questions:
1.CAN YOU AFFORD THE UNEXPECTED AND EXPENSIVE?
Your organisation’s purpose is to do good. However, unexpected things can always happen and someone, or something, might be damaged or hurt during the organisation’s activities. Sometimes, even if the organisation hasn’t done anything wrong, it can still suffer from expensive legal fees. Accidents, which can lead to insurance claims, can be as simple as the following:
Other incidents could be even more complex. Here are some real life examples:
2.WHAT ABOUT FRAUD?
Unfortunately, dishonesty and fraud is a fact of life. Charities and associations are increasingly at risk of fraud. If you’re a board or committee member, you run an additional risk of being accused of fraud, even if you’ve done nothing wrong. Here are some real life examples:
3.ARE VOLUNTEERS AND EMPLOYEES PROPERLY PROTECTED?
This is an important question to ask, regardless of whether you’re the volunteer or if you are organising a group of volunteers to help out in your association’s activities. Here are a few things to consider:
Not-for-profit organizations form an invaluable part of our society and every participant takes pride in offering to the community. Like a business, they must also prepare for challenging events, know what risks they face and reduce the likelihood of potentially costly ‘surprises’. Consult a professional insurance broker to find out the optimal solution for your organization and make the most out of the organization budget.
English translation, article originally appearing in the Vision China Times, Melbourne (18 December 2015)
Smart investors often add property to their investment portfolio. Lower volatility, potential tax benefits and control over assets have made property investments attractive for those seeking lucrative capital growth. In Australia, property values are growing up to 7% per annum and purchasing intent in the real estate marketplace is hitting a historical high.
As passionate investors dream of solid returns flooding in, crucial things that may go wrong are sometimes ignored as the trends heat up. Unexpected events such as fire or explosion, rental default, malicious and intentional damage by both tenants and criminals may result in expensive loss. When considering property investments that guarantee safe capital return, several factors can help safeguard it:
1. Reduce your risk by picking the right location
Damage from natural disasters, such as bush fires during scorchingly dry Australian summers, high winds and storm surge, are likely to occur if your property is located besides reserves, bushlands, creeks, storm drains and lakes. Statistics show that extreme weather events, for example, storms and hail, have resulted in damage to 30,000 properties in the past three years. Bushfires destroyed up to 2029 properties in 2009, leaving tragic damage with thousands of dollars in repair costs.
It’s not only nature that you need to consider – don’t forget the human factor when choosing the location of your new property investment. Unsafe suburbs with a higher crime rate nad drug use may lead to a high incidence of theft and household burglaries. This will make your property unattractive to potential tenants, and also impact the value of your property. Safety and liveability always matter, even if you don’t live in the property yourself.
2. Safeguard your property
An ideal location doesn’t always prevent risks your property. Common problems, such as water damage from storms, can be minimised if you know how to protect your property. Heavy rain can impact any location, and it’s wise to check the following items during your house inspection:
3. Choose your tenant wisely
It is helpful to engage a professional property manager who will help you choose the right tenant and be proactive in the maintenance of your property. Bad tenants can cause trouble and loss, for example they may default on rent payments, deny you access to the property or vacate without notice. They may damage the property, leaving you with massive clean-up and repair bills.
4. Protect your investment
Don’t wait for something to happen before organizing the insurance for your investment property – it will be too late. Extreme accidents may arrive when you’re unaware and even the best tenant could accidentally damage a property or lose their job and be unable to pay rent. A tailored landlord insurance policy is crucial for owners to cover loss and save efforts. The following insurance can be considered to safeguard your investment property: