Last week my sister and I had a good chat about her plans to buy a house.

But we eventually came to the real reason for her call - as the sole income earner in her family, if something were to happen to her what would she do? She really didn't know.

With a good amount of annual and sick leave saved up she would probably be fine if she had a short-term illness. But what if it were more serious?

What if she couldn't work for the longer term? Or ever again? Who would support her and her partner? Who would pay the mortgage?

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While our wider family would support her, at least in the shorter term, not all of us are in that position.

This call, and the serious fires across New Zealand over the last few weeks with homes and livelihoods lost, has made me wonder about those in our communities who perhaps haven't thought about things or have an "I'll get to it" philosophy.

If you had a machine sitting on your couch that churned out thousands of dollars per year would you not protect it? It's worth more than most family cars.

If you are a wage/salary earner you should give thought to the issues raised by the conversation with my sister.

There are a wide range of cost-effective insurance products out there to cover your needs.

These include life insurance, trauma, total and permanent disability cover, income protection insurance and health insurance.

All of which can be tailored to your budget, your needs and the level of risk you are happy to accept.

If you are a business owner or farmer you need to think about your business plans and backup plans.

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These plans should include disaster recovery, Civil Defence emergencies and keeping your families safe, including what insurance covers you have in place and that they will deliver at match time.

Your plans need to cover more than the material things you and your business own. You also need to think about:

• yourself
• what would happen to your business if you couldn't work in it? (You may also have families/employees depending on you as well)
• your crops
• if you have livestock and significant roadside frontage - your livestock.

Fires, floods and weather patterns may also play a part in your decisions about insuring your livestock or crops.

For example, if you lost your livestock or crops to fire what would you do if you could no longer earn the planned income from them? Do you still have a business? Do you have the cashflow you need to replace them? There are many things to think about.

As always, if you need further advice, contact the team at Crowe Horwath on 06 585 5540.

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As for my sister, she is now working through putting life, income, total and permanent disability and health insurance in place.

- This information is general and readers should seek specialist advice before making financial decisions.
- Shelley Nairn is senior manager and agri specialist.