Many people are getting their insurance canceled because of their small businesses. Senator David Pocock wants to change

ACT Independent Senator David Pocock has taken up the cause of home-based small and medium business owners who lack home and contents insurance.

An ABC investigation earlier this month revealed policyholders who have ABNs registered at their home are unlikely to be charged.

Since then, several people have come forward to cancel their plans.

Senator Pocock said the looming crisis could affect small and medium businesses across the country, and he wanted to help find a solution.

“Ninety-seventy-seven of the businesses in Australia are small businesses, so this is affecting a lot of people, it’s something we need to look at,” he said.

Insurance is federally regulated, and Senator Pocock is calling on the Albanese government to address the issue as soon as possible.

He said he had already arranged meetings with the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman and was writing to Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones, the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, the Insurance Ombudsman, and the Insurance Council of Australia.

Insurance policy ‘stopped immediately’

Steve Cook had been insured with Allianz for more than 30 years and had never made a claim before canceling his policy. (ABC News: Ian Cutmore)

Senator Pocock decided to do so after receiving a letter from Canberra independent filmmaker Steve Cooke, who had his Allianz home and its contents suspended after he revealed he was running his small business from his home south of Farrer.

“I first found out about the potential insurance through ABC News and decided to call my insurance company and check it out,” he said.

“I asked what risk I would be to them, they didn’t explain anything to me.

“They just stopped, and said ‘you’re going to get a letter in the post, you’ve breached our insurance policy by having a small home business’.”

The retired police officer began making films five years ago after PTSD led him to pursue a different path in life.

They have a small team of volunteer filmmakers who start work, and employ local actors who also volunteer their time to make films about Canberra and the surrounding area.

Mr Cooke said it “took a lot of work” to find another insurance company, but eventually found support from the NRMA.

“But there are hard parts of what I can do at home,” he said.

“I only have half a bedroom in the house. I can’t do anything business-related here in terms of photography.

“So, any kind of photography that I’ve done in the past at my house, I can’t do that.”

‘It’s all for nothing’

A man in a black jumper is working on a computer.
Under Mr Cooke’s new insurance policy, he is allowed to edit videos at his home and store his equipment there. (ABC News: Emma Groves)

Mr Cooke said he was “blown away” by Allianz’s response, particularly as he had been with the insurer for more than 30 years, never had a claim and had a different insurer.

“I can’t see how I would be in danger,” he said.

“The lighting is battery powered so it doesn’t consume a lot of power. All the cameras are battery powered, we don’t do any activities that involve shaking or anything that is dangerous.

“It’s all nonsense to me.”

Mr. Cooke said that he does not know what the future of his business will be, because he will no longer be able to run small film shows in his home under the new insurance policy, and he must find money to buy films.

But he said he was relieved to have adequate home insurance and encouraged anyone with a business, hobby business or small business based in their home to review their insurance.

In a statement, a spokesman for the Insurance Council of Australia said insurers ask customers a variety of questions when buying or renewing insurance, “seeking information about the policy including whether any business or trade has taken place on the premises,” they said.

“It’s important that questions are answered accurately and honestly, no matter how big or small or the type of business, mistakes or omissions can put your cover and future claims at risk.”

The ABC has contacted the office of Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones and expects to hear back later today.