To start with, sure. But insurance is cheap, you can rebuy your ship for I think 5% of its entire value including equipment. (Cargo is lost.)
So if you have enough for a few rebuys, don’t be afraid to try things, including combat! After all, combat will come to you at some point, so it’s not a bad idea to get a little practice. That said, avoiding destruction is almost always possible when you know what you’re doing and have your wits about you, and running away is a skill to be honed too.
I have another general tip, don’t expect Elite to be like other games. It’s not designed to be discovered by a player independently, and that goes for story/lore content as well as simply how to play. Gotta talk to people. So o7, @LordDerp, for launching the topic.