Doctors, newscasters and teachers frequently tout the importance of physical activity as it contributes to a healthy lifestyle, but with physical activities comes the inherent risk of injuries, whether you’re hiking, biking, running, walking, skiing or anything else there is a possibility that you might be injured or your equipment might be damaged. That’s why insurance policies specifically designed for outdoor and active lifestyle activities are so important. However, these policies are part of the insurance world that a lot of people are unaware of. Henry Carus is here with us today to discuss insurance policies for active lifestyles and why they are an important component of living a long and healthy life. So Henry thank you for being with us today.
Henry: My pleasure Cindy.
Cindy: Well Henry you’re not only a lawyer but a keen cyclist and health enthusiast, so you know a great deal about health and fitness. What can you tell us about this topic?
Henry: Well, Cindy I like the compliment, thanks a lot, but I am not sure that I am such an expert in it. I think what happens is you get older and as a keen cyclist and a health enthusiast you find out all the things that you should have learned many, many years ago and just keep on learning more and more. So I’ll try to give some answer to that question but I am thinking that I am still in the learning stage of this process.
Cindy: I think we are all in the learning phase of various aspects of life. Henry, tell us about safety issues of the road.
Henry: Okay, so my principal form of enjoyment in terms of a sporting activity is cycling. I love cycling, it’s one of those things that takes me back to being age 7, and when I got my first bicycle I was able to be free of the house and be able to pedal away with my friends, so cycling is a sense of freedom. When you turn to our age you turn to cycling now and for lots of people these days there are two aspects to it, one, they use it to get to and from work most of the time or the other one is that they are using it for their sporting and recreational activities. Both of those put them on the road and being on the road is not so safe, when you compare yourself being on a bicycle with the cars or trucks that are traveling around you and so that road safety issue is the one that is always in my mind and I know todays conversation is how to address that possibly with some insurance to address those risks, do I have the idea correct Cindy?
Cindy: Yes you do absolutely, so the question is for people with active lifestyles who are covered by Medicare for their medical care, do they also need private health insurance to cover them for their active lifestyles?
Henry: Look the general concept that I have been watching over the last 20 years is the erosion of the scope of support that Medicare is giving to people who are injured and the lack of ability to get really good care under the Medicare system especially if you have to wait for any hospitalization or seeing a specialist, so private health insurance is one way a person can try to get access to that necessary care when they need them, and if you’re going to be putting yourself on the road you are at risk, I don’t like to think about it because I am on my bicycle 2 or 3 times a week on the road but you are at risk, you’re at risk at any time someone can make a mistake and you should have that health insurance the private health insurance to bridge the gap from what you would like to get in terms of medical care and what the Medicare system will provide you.
Cindy: And for those just starting out in an activity such as cycling do they need to get a special insurance policy to be adequately covered for the activity
Henry: There is no special insurance policy just dealing with the private health insurance that’s, unless people are getting that just for their normal lifestyle, now for being on a bicycle, the only concepts that come to mind really are whether or not you’re going to be covered for things like maybe property damage to your vehicle, or whether you’re going to be covered for health or injury purposes, the health and injury should fall within your private health insurance and should be okay, because their policies will cover you for most activities, property damage for instance if you ride a bicycle that you really love and you want to replace it or your concerned about causing someone else damage and your concerned about who is going to cover it then maybe you should get some insurance to protect you in that regard.
Cindy: Okay so there are also liability issues to consider as well.
Henry: Unfortunately us cyclists do cause accidents and we sometimes can cause quite nasty accidents by some of the mistakes we make on the road, so if you’re going to be involved in an activity that can possibly cause injury or damage to others then it would be helpful to get some insurance to cover you, there is an interesting aspect of the insurance picture with that which I like to expand on Cindy and that is people are thinking okay I am going to be riding my bicycle, I need a policy that’s going to be specific to my activity, I need to get a bicycle insurance policy, that’s not necessarily so, because there is a quirk in the insurance skiff systems or schemes that are a available here in Victoria and Australia and the quirk is that most home insurance policies for your home and your contents have an insurance liability provision that covers you for all accidents that you may be responsible for in your home or anywhere in Australia, they cover you for your mistakes anywhere, and that would include a mistake on a bicycle.
Cindy: Okay, let’s talk a little bit about running groups which are very popular and a great social activity, what kind of liability issues do they present?
Henry: Running groups? Look I can’t see running in general to be a major problem in terms of liability in terms of you causing an accident to others, the only times that I think about running as a risk factor is possibly if you step on someone and cause them to fall, that can happen especially if you’re doing trail runs, or the other one which occurs because we have here in Victoria shared bike paths where you both have walking and running and bicycles traveling at the same time, so if your running on one of them and you make a mistake and cause a bicyclist to have an injury, again that’s the risk factor that you have, if you are at a home that has a home or a contents policy you’re okay, you’re fine you will be covered for that mistake by your home policy and if you don’t know that you should try to figure that out,
Cindy: Well let me ask you one final question Henry, suppose you’re engaged in a number of sports biking, scuba diving, white water rafting, do you need separate insurance policies for each activity?
Henry: Look there are some aspects that you would need for and most of them deal with your responsibility for causing damage to others, that’s really the key factor and obviously property damage type of events, in terms of your personal health I can’t see you getting insurance coverage for your activities because the health insurance policy that you will get above Medicare will cover you for any injuries in those activities most of the time, and then for your general responsibility you have your home and contents policy for you general responsibility, there are some quirks though there are some sports that health insurance policies don’t like, they will say those are high risk activities and they may exclude them so you should probably look at your policy or better yet if they have a broker or you got it directly from the insurance company query them whether or not you will be covered for any particular sporting activity before you engage in it that would be my advice.
Cindy: And Henry if someone has specific questions how can they reach your office?
Henry: We have a website which has an Email service that runs 24 hours 7 days a week and we have our phone service which you can contact us at any time. We are here to provide a service. Many times people are a bit hesitant to contact a lawyer because they think I am going to have to be charged or pay a fee for that service, we give free consultation the first free visit so people can just contact us with their ideas and there will be no charge involved.
Cindy: Very good, Henry thank you so much for your time today.
Henry: My pleasure, be well.
Cindy: Until next time this is Cindy Speaker for Victoria law TV .