An insurance agency says customers could end up paying lower premiums if they are prepared to stay on the phone and answer more questions. Photo: iStock Photo.com
SOME insurance customers are paying higher premiums than necessary because they are not prepared to spend longer on the phone going through the details of their policies.
At least one major insurer is trying to work out how to get more information from customers to lower their premiums, without boring them.
A spokesman from AAMI said costs for fire insurance could be lowered but some people were uncomfortable answering detailed questions.
He said customers would buy insurance elsewhere if asked too many questions.
''It's about striking the right balance,'' he said. ''Already we can get certain information from mapping and we ask about smoke alarms.''
Canberra resident Ric Hingee, whose home burned to the ground in the 2003 bushfires, said he was lobbying AAMI to ask customers more questions about the fire resistance of their homes.
''Insurance companies provide discounts for those who provide burglar security for their homes and, as far as I am concerned, the same should hold true for efforts to secure against bushfires when living on the urban fringe,'' he said.
Houses can be made more fire resistant in many ways, including steel shutters and house frames, panelled or painted-steel doors, steel door frames and thermal aluminium-framed double-glazed windows.
Some houses can even be cut into a hillside to protect them from fires.
A GIO spokesman said his company did not yet ask detailed questions about metal shutters and the like.
''We do take into account location, including proximity to scrubland, as well as building and roof materials and types when considering the fire risk homes are under,'' he said.
''As yet, not enough people have adopted these measures to allow us to effectively cost them into our prices, but we would certainly consider them into the future were this to change.''