COVID saw Aussies spend $2 billion more on booze in 2020

Posted: 23 December 2020 8:27 am
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A lockdown binge saw Australians splash out $2 billion more on alcohol this year according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data.

This follows a nationally representative Finder survey of 1,008 Australians which found 2 in 3 (66%) mistakenly believe drinking doesn't impact your life insurance premium.

While one day of indulgence is not going to derail you, people are being warned to overhaul their drinking habits.

Every year there are more than 4,000 alcohol-related deaths in Australia and more than 70,000 hospital admissions, according to the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Finder analysis of ABS data reveals Australians spent an average $1,891 per year on household alcohol – an increase of $270 over last year.

Alcohol spending shot up 17% year-on-year in the September quarter to $6.18 billion, just shy of June's record-breaking $6.21 billion figure.

Taylor Blackburn insurance specialist at Finder, said many factors gave rise to lockdown lushes.

"Months of being forced to stay home, along with the stress brought on by the pandemic, and frankly, boredom, are all reasons for increasing consumption.

"The average drinker is spending more than the cost of two gym memberships on grog," Blackburn said.

A recent Finder survey shows spending on alcohol isn't slowing down as lockdown measures are eased, with consumers looking to spend $136 on alcohol on the period between Christmas and New Years alone.

Following this year's pandemic, one in five Australians (20%) has increased their alcohol intake over the lockdown months, according to research from ANU.

Of those who drank more through the lockdowns, nearly one in three (28%) consumed an alarming 3-4 standard drinks extra.

The top reasons for reaching for the liquor cabinet included spending more time at home (66%), boredom (44%) and increased stress (35%).

Blackburn said it's concerning that 66% of Australians are unaware of the impact of excessive drinking on life insurance.

Women were more likely to think alcohol has no impact on premiums, with 70% believing it has no effect, compared with 62% of men – a concerning statistic given that women were much more likely to indulge in a few extra beverages this year.

"If you drink occasionally and it has no impact on your health, then you're unlikely to be denied access to insurance policies.

"But it's a different story for those who drink excessively or those with a history of alcoholism.

"Alcohol abuse is often excluded from life insurance policies, and you're likely to receive a higher premium if you suffer from alcohol-related health conditions," Blackburn said.

Do you think alcohol consumption impacts your life insurance?
Yes34%
No66%

Source: Finder, December 2020 survey

Methodology:

  • This study was designed by Finder and conducted by Qualtrics, a SAP company.
  • The online survey was conducted using a nationally representative survey sample of 1,008 Australian residents.
  • Cost analysis is based on ABS Household Final Consumption Expenditure data for alcoholic beverages for the periods December 2019 - September 2020 and December 2018 - September 2019 for comparison.
  • Analysis assumes 66.3% of Australians over the age of 18 consume alcohol (equivalent to 13,073,000) in accordance with research from Roy Morgan.
  • Alcohol consumption research conducted by ANU was published in June 2020 and does not reflect any subsequent changes to consumption patterns.

What to check before you buy life insurance

  • Your level of cover: Before you buy life insurance it's important to look at what you're actually covered for and what's excluded. There are different types of insurance for different needs, for example income protection won't cover you for funerals.
  • Your superannuation: You can get life insurance through your super fund. The cover won't typically be as comprehensive as if you take out a separate policy but if you don't need much and you want to avoid up-front costs it can be a good option.
  • How your premiums may change over time: When it comes to life insurance you have two options - stepped or levelled. A stepped policy means that every year on the anniversary of your policy your insurer will re-evaluate your premiums. Level premiums will remain the same as you age, but can often be more expensive to begin with.

If you have been denied life insurance, check out Finder's guide to discovering what options are available to you here.

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