Everyone realises the importance of insuring their car and home, however many seem to overlook the importance of insuring their means to make a living and maintain their lifestyle. Many new clients we meet often tell us they have insurance as part of their super fund and assume that it will meet their needs and be available if they ever need to make a claim. Some of these clients were unaware of what they really had and just assumed that all super funds incorporated insurance cover such as life, TPD and income protection – this is definitely not the case. In fact, most new clients we meet are underinsured for their individual needs and often rely heavily on automatic insurance cover which is usually given to new members of a super fund.
So what is automatic cover and why shouldn’t you rely on it?
Automatic cover is insurance that you never applied for yourself, or completed an underwriting assessment to acquire. The cover is typically included with a new super fund account when you sign up as a new member, usually when you join through a new employer. Not all super funds give you automatic cover and you should never assume you have it.
The difference between automatic cover and underwritten cover can be night and day should you ever need to make a claim. The main reason is because the automatic cover was given to individuals without assessing their medical history, current health, family history, medications, or previous injuries before it was issued. Instead the underwriting assessment is done at the time of claim, which can present a huge range of complications and additional stress to the insured person/person’s family when they are most vulnerable and in need of the insured amount. In some cases this can result in a claim being declined as the automatic cover provider wouldn’t have accepted the policy if they had known about the conditions when the insurance was first issued.
On the other hand, an insurance policy which has gone through an underwriting assessment at the time of application and issued to the insured person cannot be altered by the insurer once it’s in force. The insured amount must be paid as long as the definitions of the policy are met. This means that you will have the cover in place as long as you continue to service the premiums, no matter what surprises or health concerns may happen in the future. In fact, you are placed in a better position than the insurer as you are the only one who can alter the policy once it’s in place – such as removing/reducing potential loadings or exclusions, or improving your occupation rating which will reduce your future premiums.
Is the cover you have currently enough?
The second major issue with automatic cover is the amount of insurance you are given is usually a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t take any of your personal circumstances into consideration.
For example, people with automatic cover are often issued a couple hundred thousand dollars of life and TPD insurance, and maybe a few thousand dollars a month in income protection which will usually pay a benefit for a maximum of two years. The problem with this approach is that everyone earns different salaries and has different amounts of debt, which will alter the amount of cover needed. If someone couldn’t return to work ever again due to an illness or accident and they were expecting to work for another 25 years, most automatic income protection policies would only replace their income for a maximum of 2 years. What would that person do for the remaining 23 years of lost income? Would one wage cover everything that household needed or would the family (or spouse) be forced to completely change their way of life? This situation may seem unlikely, but it happens every day to people who think they are healthy.
Can you have a quality policy which is underwritten and still funded by super?
Yes, you can have quality insurance policies which are underwritten at the time of application inside super. You can also opt for more comprehensive policies which are mostly funded by super, with a small portion of the premium paid outside of super for the comprehensive extras (as per current SIS Act legislation).
Want to know more about quality protection?
Seeking advice about what cover will best suits your needs is very important as not all policies are equal. An adviser can help you identify what level of cover meet your individual needs and will find a solution which fits your budget. Our advice services will look at multiple quality providers which will give you confidence in knowing the cover is in place, should you need to ever make a claim.
Contact us today for a free financial health check which will examine your current financial situation and ensure your insurance needs are being met.