Our “vitally important” survey for the ACCC into under-insurance in northern Australia
Our survey for the ACCC into under-insurance in northern Australia has been published.
“The survey has been vitally important ... as it has filled important gaps in information that we could not obtain from insurers or public consultation."
In bushfire-ravaged and then flooded Australia, many of us have no doubt wondered about how adequate our home insurance would be if were unfortunate enough to lose our home. The Susan Bell Research team spent much of last winter working closely with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (the ACCC) on this very topic. Our focus was on northern Australia (broadly speaking north of the Tropic of Capricorn) but many of the findings will be relevant to people living in the rest of Australia too.
Northern Australia is a vast area – and a challenge to sample
Northern Australia covers an area of approximately three million square kilometres and is home to around 5 per cent of Australia’s population.
Key findings from our survey
We are delighted to have contributed to such a significant piece of work. Key findings:
- 11% of home buildings in Australia were not insured at all last year. The main reason? Cost.
- Under-insurance is hard to assess, though one factor is whether people have reduced their ‘sum insured’ to make the premium more affordable. Our research revealed just such a finding. Other risky ways to gauge your sum insured are to base your estimate on what you bought the house for, or what you think you can sell it for.
A representative sample
This was a sampling challenge that we overcome with pizazz! We needed a representative sample of the 5% of the population who are dispersed across three million square kilometres.
Paul Hoger of Q & A Market Research designed a mobile phone survey sample for us using geo-tagging. Q & A conducted almost all of our fieldwork, including stand-alone surveys with residents and businesses in Townsville – conducted because of the 2019 floods that devasted that region.
The ACCC wanted to make sure that people who identify as Aboriginal or from the Torres Strait Islands were included in the sample in sufficient numbers for us to understand the insurance needs of indigenous Australians. As one participant reminded us, it is vital that we understand issues such as insurance from the perspective of the indigenous population:
“People in my socio-economic group don’t buy $10 000 lounge suites. I am yet to meet anybody in the Aboriginal community who owns high end furniture. The most valuable item that people in my community own is a car. We’re not people who value jewellery. The most valuable things I own are my artworks, which were mostly given to me by Elders from other communities, so the personal value is irreplaceable.”
We achieved this in two ways.
- Our sample of n=1600 residents of northern Australia included n=68 indigenous Australians living in towns and smaller communities across the region.
- A welcome boost to this sample came from the specialist indigenous panel SurveyMob run by McNair yellow Squares which gave us insight into indigenous communities in cities such as Cairns and Townsville.