Insurance 101: Protecting What Matters Most

“If there is anyone dependent on your income – parents, children, relatives – you need life insurance” ― Suze Orman

5 min read

Insurance 101: Protecting What Matters Most

“If there is anyone dependent on your income – parents, children, relatives – you need life insurance” ― Suze Orman

5 min read

You wouldn’t hike a mountain without the appropriate gear, nor jump out of a plane without a parachute. Insurance is exactly like that hiking gear or parachute, a safety net for your financial wellbeing. It provides you with protection and peace of mind, ensuring that you and your loved ones are financially secure, even if the unexpected happens.

What is Insurance?

Other than a financial safety net, insurance is a financial contract between you and an insurance company. You pay regular premiums, and in return, the insurer promises to provide financial support when specific events, known as “covered events,” occur. The goal of insurance is to protect you from potential financial losses related to these events.

The Frequency vs Impact Matrix

An important part of the financial planning process is to identify different types of risk and to plan accordingly. Some risks are best managed while others are best insured. The risk that a casual passer-by will walk into a person’s home and steal the cash sitting on the hall table is best managed by keeping the front door locked and putting large sums of money out of sight. But the more remote risk that a determined burglar might break in and steal valuables is best left to insurance.

The most common way to categorise different types of risk is according to their severity of impact as well as their likelihood of occurrence. Some events are very likely to occur but may not be so important in terms of their impact on a person’s life. Most people might cut their finger or graze their knee from time to time, but any cost is likely to be relatively low or non-existent. Some events, such as the house burning down, can be disastrous but happen very rarely. Insuring against minor and frequent risks may be expensive and pointless, but it generally makes sense to insure the high impact but low frequency type of risk, where an insurer is prepared to cover through an insurance policy. The main events that have a high potential impact on individuals and their families are death and disability, which should be the top priorities for insurance-based solutions.

The above is best illustrated with the simple Frequency-to-Impact Matrix as below:

Frequency-Impact-Matrix - Insurance 101

What the above matrix is showing is that an event such as a minor injury (non-severe scrapes of your knee or cuts on your hand) would fall into the bottom right box. These can typically be ignored or easily dealt on a day-to-day basis.

The high frequency and high impact could include periods of unemployment, especially for certain sectors. Insurance for these occurrences can be expensive or you may not find insurance companies willing to cover these events. Thus, this type of risk is best ‘managed’. In the example of unemployment, it would be advisable to accumulate a ‘rainy day fund’ or savings pot whilst you are employed to ensure sufficient financial support is available when you need it most.

Low frequency but high impact could include retirement. Generally, you will only retire once, but the impact of stopping work and losing an earned income is often very high. In this example, saving money towards retirement (such as pensions and investments) can generate a sufficient income during and throughout your retirement. In addition, other low frequency but high impact events (such as your house burning down or premature death of a family member) can have severe financial consequences. Most people find it difficult to build up a sufficient savings fund to support themselves during such a potentially expensive time.

The Frequency-to-Impact Matrix can be summarised as follows:

  • Low Frequency but High Impact = Insure
  • High Frequency and High Impact = Manage or Insure (if possible)
  • Low Frequency and Low Impact = Easily Manage or Ignore
  • High Frequency but Low Impact = Easily Manage or Ignore

Why Might You Need Insurance?

The importance of insurance becomes evident in the face of life’s uncertainties. You may be asking yourself why you might need insurance, and the reasons are multifaceted and compelling. Insurance serves a multitude of purposes in your life, such as shielding your financial wellbeing, helping you comply with legal requirements, and providing a significant source of peace of mind.

The financial protection that insurance offers cannot be underestimated. It acts as a crucial safety net that can help you and your family stay financially secure, even in the wake of an unexpected event, like a medical emergency or a natural disaster. Additionally, the legal obligations surrounding insurance, such as mandatory health insurance in many places, underscore the significance of these financial agreements in your daily life.

Knowing that you and your loved ones are financially protected provides comfort and security, alleviating some of the stress and anxiety that can often accompany life’s uncertainties.

What Are The Main Types of Insurance?

There is a diverse range of insurance products available to suit the many unique aspects of your life. The landscape of insurance is vast and varied, and it’s important to explore the various types of insurance available to understand which policies align with your individual needs and circumstances.

A. Health Insurance

Health insurance is your financial safeguard in the realm of healthcare. Its primary role is to cover medical expenses when you require medical treatment or attention. Health insurance comes in various plans, each offering different levels of coverage and financial protection. Depending on your specific health needs, you can choose the plan that best suits your health and financial requirements, helping you navigate the complex and often costly world of healthcare with greater ease.

B. Life Insurance

Life insurance provides you with a unique form of financial support. It is designed to offer a financial lifeline to your beneficiaries in the event of your passing. There are two primary categories of life insurance: term life insurance and whole life insurance. Each category is equipped with distinct features, and your choice between them depends on your financial goals and life circumstances. By securing a life insurance policy, you take a proactive step towards ensuring that your loved ones remain financially stable, even in your absence.

C. Homeowners / Renters Insurance

For many people, their home is not just a physical space but a haven of personal and sentimental value. Homeowners or renters insurance is an essential form of protection for your abode and the belongings within. These policies provide financial security against potential risks, including property damage and theft. They also extend to personal liability coverage, helping you mitigate financial risks associated with accidents that occur on your property. Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, safeguarding your dwelling and your personal possessions through insurance is a prudent and necessary step in securing your financial future.

D. Car Insurance

Car insurance is a type of financial protection specifically designed for drivers. It offers a comprehensive safety net in the event of car accidents, covering damages to your vehicle and personal injuries. Car insurance typically includes various components, such as liability insurance, which covers expenses related to injuries or property damage caused by your vehicle, as well as collision and comprehensive coverage, which helps mitigate the financial implications of accidents, theft, and more. If you own a vehicle, auto insurance is not just a choice but a legal requirement in most places.

E. Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is your trusted companion when you embark on a journey. It serves as a protective shield for your travel investment, ensuring that you enjoy a worry-free trip. This form of insurance covers a wide array of unexpected events that could disrupt your travel plans, such as trip cancellations, medical emergencies while abroad, lost luggage, and even flight delays. By investing in travel insurance, you can experience the world with greater confidence and financial security, knowing that you are prepared for any unexpected twists and turns during your adventures.

F. Winter Sports Insurance

Winter sports insurance is a specialised form of coverage for those who enjoy the thrills of activities like skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports. These insurance policies are tailored to provide protection against accidents, injuries, or other mishaps that can occur while you’re out on the slopes. With winter sports insurance, you can enjoy your snowy adventures without worrying about the potential financial consequences of unexpected incidents during your outings.

How to Obtain Insurance

Now that we have revealed to you the potential significance of insurance in your life, you may be wondering where and how you can obtain the coverage that fits your unique needs. The process of securing insurance can vary depending on the type of coverage you require. Here’s a general outline of how to obtain insurance:

1. Identify Your Needs: The first step in obtaining insurance is identifying your needs. Determine what aspects of your life or assets require protection. For example, if you own a car, auto insurance is essential. If you have dependents, life insurance should be considered. Evaluate your personal circumstances, financial goals, and lifestyle to pinpoint the types of insurance that will offer you the most value.

2. Shop for Insurance Providers: With a clear understanding of your insurance needs, you can start shopping for insurance providers. It’s crucial to research and compare various insurance companies to find the one that aligns with your requirements. Consider factors such as the company’s reputation, financial stability, customer service, and the specific policies they offer.

3. Consult with a Financial Adviser or Insurance Broker: Financial Advisers and Insurance Brokers are professionals who can help you navigate the complexities of insurance. They communicate and work with multiple insurance companies and can offer you a range of policy options. Consulting with a Financial Adviser or Insurance Broker can save you time and help you find the best coverage at a competitive price. They can also explain the intricacies of different policies and assist you in making an informed decision.

4. Obtain Quotes: Once you’ve identified potential insurance providers, request quotes from them. Quotes provide you with estimates of the premiums you’ll need to pay for the coverage you desire. This allows you to compare costs and choose the most cost-effective option. Be sure to provide accurate information during the quoting process to receive precise estimates.

5. Understand Policy Terms (READ THE CONTRACT): Before finalising your insurance purchase, carefully review the terms and conditions of the policy. Pay close attention to aspects like coverage limits, deductibles, exclusions, cancellation policy and any additional benefits. Ensure that the policy addresses your specific needs and goals.

6. Make Informed Decisions: Based on the information gathered during your research, consultations, and quote comparisons, make informed decisions about your insurance coverage. Select the policies that offer the best value and protection for your individual circumstances.

7. Complete the Application: Once you’ve made your selections, you’ll need to complete an application for the chosen insurance policies. The application typically requires you to provide detailed information about yourself, your assets, or the individuals you’re insuring.

8. Pay Your Premiums: Insurance policies require regular premium payments. The frequency and method of premium payments can vary depending on the policy and provider. It’s essential to make premium payments on time to maintain continuous coverage.

9. Review and Update Your Policies: Life is dynamic, and your insurance needs may change over time. It’s crucial to periodically review your insurance coverage and make necessary updates to ensure it continues to meet your financial goals and circumstances.

10. File Claims When Needed: In the unfortunate event of a covered incident, you’ll need to file a claim with your insurance provider to receive financial assistance. The claims process will depend on the type of insurance and the specifics of your policy. Familiarise yourself with the claim procedures so that you can efficiently receive the support you need during difficult times.

A Prudent Financial Decision

Now you know the basics of how to get and the key types of insurance. Taking out an insurance policy is a prudent financial decision that offers you and your loved ones peace of mind and protection against the unpredictabilities of life. Of course, there may be those for whom insurance might not be possible due to various factors, but always try to ensure your needs are insured if you can. Insurance safeguards your financial wellbeing and ensures that you are prepared for unexpected events.

Choosing the right coverage for your needs is a significant step in securing your financial future and that of your loved ones. Patterson Mills are here to make sure your family are taken care of in the best of times as well as the not-so-good ones. Get in touch with us today and book your initial, no-cost and no-obligation meeting, you and your family will be pleased that you did. Send us an e-mail to or call us direct at +41 21 801 36 84 and we shall be pleased to assist you.

Please note that all information within this article has been prepared for informational purposes only. This article does not constitute financial, legal or tax advice. Always ensure you speak to a regulated Financial Adviser before making any financial decisions.