Before looking at this special type of insurance which Australians know as “Assurance' perhaps it is best to put to one side the other definitions of Assurance so as to distinguish them from each other.
Assurance Services has nothing to do with the baby boomer Assurance. The term Assurance Services is associated with accountancy to improve of quality of information. The term has leaked over to a host of production definitions linked to Quality Assurance. In some ways it is likened to the university economics course Quantitative Methods, which in part looks at quality assurance in say, tyre manufacturing, whereby tyre samples are taken from the line and tested.
Another Assurance which has nothing to do with what I refer to as Baby Boomer Assurance is that in Protestant Theology, the word Assurance here refers to the complete confidence of Salvation once a person seeks forgiveness through repentance for what Jesus Christ did on the Cross for them personally. They have a sense of total assurance. The great hymn sung at many Billy Graham Crusades “Blessed Assurance Jesus is Mine” symbolises this theology.
There are ships (MHS Assurance) and mountains (Mt Assurance) which are names assigned to such things as recorded in Wikipedia. Clearly none of these have anything to do with Baby Boomer Assurance. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assurance)
In the United States for example, the terms "insurance" and "assurance" are sometimes confused. In general, in jurisdictions where both terms are used, "insurance" refers to providing coverage for an event that might happen (fire, theft, flood, etc.), while "assurance" is the provision of coverage for an event that is certain to happen.
For example, FarmFest is an annual rural celebration on the Carlisle Coast (Whitsundays mainland) and insurances are taken out for public liability, injury, accident and the like. This is an event that is certain to happen. There are thousands upon thousands of such policies for all kinds of events.
Baby Boomer Assurance
As in the FarmFest illustration, the (insurance-assurance) was taken out for an event that is certain to happen, so too Baby Boomer Assurance was taken out when the baby boomer generations were just starting work and matured in 20, 25 ... years time.
When I commenced my career as a locomotive engineman on the New South Wales Government Railways on 1968, it was a given to sign up to an Assurance Policy that cost $12.42 each month out of my wage packet. It was to mature in 25 years with $14,595. Everyone, including my parents, said this was a very good thing to do. My wife of 35 years signed up similarly when she was starting out, for a smaller amount on maturity, $10,000. If we died before maturity our estate would receive what we had paid in.
The obvious benefit to the large insurance companies was this mammoth amount of monthly contributions for which they carefully and judiciously invested to make, no doubt, many millions more.
For the little person, people like Delma my wife and me, it was an increasingly minuscule amount as the results of inflation increased our income, but what a huge benefit to us just when the kids hit their latter high school years and then on to university. For us, as it was hundreds of thousands of baby boomer parents, maturity of Assurance policies came just at the right time.
What has taken its place
A few Christmas' ago our extended family were all together and we sat at the kitchen table one evening and we addressed the subject of Assurance to our young marrieds and working singles. We explained how beneficial it was to us as they hit university and our need to meet those expenses (we lived in Moruya and they all needed to live-away-from-home for tertiary studies).
We were a little surprised by the response by these X and Y generations. (Subsequently we have discussed this with other of our baby boomer friends, they too received similar non-comprehension).
X and Y generations talk about a range of products and financial planning programs that not only confuse us with science with the nature of such financial inventions. Those of my generation stand a little agog, moreover we were not in the least surprised when the GFC struck. Even the language used by X and Y generations can be like describing a NASA mission to Mars.
The notion of Equity on property has taken on a whole new meaning. 'Equity' money can be reused for additional investments in a plethora of opportunities to make new and exciting additional derivatives to whit, a hundred and one (or so) magic and mysterious 'paper' profits are gleaned for the merry-go round. Somehow money is never withdrawn to actually use as cash.
It's so bewildering that since the GFC hit, so called experts are still working it backwards. Some major overseas Banks have been found wanting. We're not talking here about being “clever and insightful”, but there seems to be a line between those and being “creative and inventive”. It was largely X & Y generations money as old time Baby Boomer money was largely locked away in staid and steady situations.
A way forward
The Scriptures speak a great deal about money and wealth. Only a small portion of the text is negative toward money, such as the “love of money is the root of all evil”.
Rather the bulk of texts about money is very positive. The Old Testament is replete with the joy of giving both tithes and offerings to the Temple, the community being responsible for those less fortunate, and the money given to rebuild or construct.
The New Testament is likewise positive. Jesus' was forthright, yes, give to Caesar what is Caesar's, don't hold it back. The joy of finding the disciples' taxes in the mouth of the fish must have bought great delight. Paul speaks of the wonder and pleasure of bringing back financial gifts to the brothers and sisters in Jerusalem.
Christians are called to be responsible in all things, including their finances, and there are blessings associated with faithfulness in every aspect of our lives. How X & Y generations of Christians deal with the integrity of money for their families well-being is for them to work through.
The Baby Boomer Christians will watch with interest as they meet their children's latter high school and university expenses as we the Baby Boomer generation did. Many of us had the help of our Assurance policies.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html