A writer’s perilous life (insurance)
In a show of adult responsibility, I consider death, TPD (total and permanent disability), and trauma insurance. I am, after all, quite ancient, and will be part-responsible for three dependents soon. Eeeek.
I check estimated premiums online at Sunsuper, where you can plug in some basic info before doing an actual application.* In the box that asks for occupation, I type “writer”, because that’s what I put on these sorts of forms. Out of the varied occupations I minister day-to-day, “writer” is my favourite self-identification, even if the pay sucks, comparatively. Pure intellectual vanity. I start typing “wri…” and the drop-down menu suggests “Writer” “Technical Writer” “Feature Writer” or “Not on the list”.
I select Writer, and send the online application forth. Computer replies with a provisional amount. My estimated premium for death ($100,000) and TPD ($500,000) insurance, as a writer, is $71.61 a week, or $3,723 annually. This seems rather high.
Maybe I should consider changing my self-described occupation.
I have been spending a large proportion of the week in (unpaid) domestic employment. I wonder if this occupation costs a different amount to insure. I change my occupational selection from writer to “home duties”. I keep everything else constant.
The premium changes to $7.86 a week ($408 annually).
That is nine times less expensive.
Let that sit in your head for a minute.
Truth time: I make the lion’s (more a sealion, probably, and a cub at that) share of my income as a marketing consultant, although when it comes to marketing, I confess I sometimes share Bill Hicks’ view of the profession.
How much to insure a postgraduate-educated marketing consultant? A little over four dollars a week, or $225.25 annually. Cheapest premium yet.
This is bizarre. I can understand dangerous, or unhealthy, jobs, attracting higher insurance premiums. Jobs like firefighter, police officer, or fighter pilot. I check these out. I also note a category called “Tunneling and underground mining and shot firer”. All would cost the same to insure as a writer.
So would a Circus Performer, Golf Professional, Factory Cleaner, or Television Presenter. (By now, I’ve adopted their Deferential Capitals.) But not an interstate bus driver or miner who doesn’t work underground. They’re cheaper to insure.
Strangely, if I were a Technical Writer, my insurance premiums would drop to a much lower premium than if I remained just a Writer.
My inner geek is fascinated. We need to plot data.
It’s not a rigorous study: I pluck random occupations and plug them into the website, keeping my age, gender, amount to insure, and income constant. I do not exhaustively choose occupations, but I do keep choosing until I become exhausted! Or bored, more honestly.**
So why is it more expensive to insure a writer? The workplace is not as dangerous as a police officer’s. Are we a mental health (and possible suicide) risk? Do we have social habits that perhaps mean we are more likely to become incapacitated? Do television presenters (also expensive insurees) share these qualities? And why do those technical dudes get away with a lower premium?
It’s an expensive buzz, but calling myself a writer, I feel a little more exotic. Dangerous. In keeping with some hardcore company: me, the fighter pilots, and the circus performers.
Not that I’m going to call myself one on any future insurance forms.
*I chose to not proceed with a Sunsuper application, as it does not offer trauma insurance (the main type I seek). However, I continued to play with the website as it was fascinating.
**I gathered this data sometime in May 2014. It’s taken me a month to put it to this blog. You can play with your own figures here.