Insurance for Expats in Australia

Submitted: August 2013

A wide range of insurance products is available in Australia, and expatriates may take out an international cover from an Australian provider. Due to this wide range, it is often possible to tailor your insurance cover to your specific needs. If you are unclear about your cover or your needs while in in Australia, you might like to check your existing insurance arrangements in your country of origin. If you have something very particular in mind, you might need a specialist insurance provider.

Home insurance

Home insurance is divided into building insurance and contents insurance. You can also apply for joint cover.

A building insurance policy protects you against damage to your house or office buildings. It may cover the cost of rebuilding your property from scratch or of certain exceptional repair, the cost of alternative accommodation while your property is being rebuilt, and public liability if something happens in your home. Aa contents insurance policy, meanwhile, covers your belongings only.

As with all insurance policies, it is up to you to decide how generous you want your cover to be, what the excess amounts are, which unexpected expenses are covered, etc. Be aware that if you take out your policy online your premiums may be lower. Typically, you only need building insurance if you are a landlord. However, you may need contents insurance whether you own or rent your home.

Going away from Home

If you expect to be away from your home for more than one month, you should let your insurer know. Failure to do so may result in a claim being rejected if something happens to your home while you are away.

Flood Insurance

Home insurance does not cover flood damage. Therefore, you need to consider a separate flood insurance policy if you are concerned about the risk of flooding in your area.

Vehicle Insurance

By law, you must have car insurance if you drive a car in Australia. If you do not have a policy that includes at least Compulsory Third Party cover (CTP), you may be havily fined, the amount depending on the state or territory you live in. Typically, third party cover insures you against potential liabilities for third party damage to your car or its contents or for bodily injury, but not damage to or theft of your own car.

Other Insurance

Private health insurance

It is strongly recommended to take out health insurance in Autralia as healthcare isn't free, even in the public sector. Note also that private health insurance also attracts tax benefits. For more information, see HEALTHCARE - Health Insurance for Expats in Australia. Before you take out health insurance, it is essential to check whether you are eligible for Medicare in Australia, as you may have to pay higher premiums if you not. See HEALTHCARE – National Health Service for Expats in Australia.

Life Insurance

Do carefully assess the burden of retaining foreign life insurance cover while you are resident in Australia. It is also wise to check the geographical extent of your existing life insurance policy when you move across borders.

If you already have a foreign life insurance endowment policy (i.e. you use life insurance as an investment product), the gains from your offshore savings are likely to be subject to Australian income tax on an accrual basis. Australian tax legislation has extremely far-reaching anti-avoidance rules regarding offshore investment income, so professional advice might be strongly helpful. It is also possible to take out life insurance cover from your superannuation fund. See Pensions for Expats in Australia.




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