Category Archives: Insurance

Managing the cost of Insurance

You don’t have to cut corners on your insurance or sacrifice the adequacy of your cover to make your policy more affordable.

A necessary evil?  A must have?  Love it or hate it, you’re likely to need insurance in your life!  But how do you get the most bang for your buck?  This article deals with options available for personal insurances like Life and Total & Permanent Disability, Trauma Insurance and Income Protection cover.

Choosing a payment structure

Choosing stepped premiums in the first few years of your life insurance policy may help you keep the cost of cover low in the beginning. Stepped premiums allow you to start paying your insurance at a lower rate, which then rises as you grow older. Your insurer calculates your premiums on each policy anniversary based on your age, and sometimes with CPI too.

You may consider moving to level premiums as you become more capable of paying your insurance. Although they’re more expensive in the beginning than the stepped structure, level premiums generally offer a good long-term savings because premiums are calculated based on your age when you first take out level premiums.

Using your super

Taking out life insurance through your superannuation fund may lower the cost of insurance because premiums may be paid using concessionally taxed contributions paid from your employer or sacrifices into your super. Premiums can be cheaper because super funds bulk buy insurance policies and can negotiate discounts (group insurance.)  Individually, some offer a 15% discount or rebate off premiums due to the concessionally taxed structure of Superannuation.

But keep in mind that super funds may offer limited cover. Talk to your adviser on how to ensure you have enough cover.  And make sure you don’t constantly erode the value of your retirement savings with large premiums.

Waiting for a longer period

When taking out income protection insurance, you can choose a waiting period. The longer you wait before receiving income benefit payments, the lower your premiums.  Make sure you have enough in savings or an offset account to tide you over – and remember, payments are made 30 days in arrears – so a 30 day waiting period may still mean 60 days before you get paid!

You can also choose between an indemnity policy and an agreed value policy. Taking out indemnity cover may help you keep the costs down because premiums are generally lower than those for agreed value cover.

Income protection premiums are usually tax deductible if you fund your cover outside super, helping make this policy affordable. If you pay your insurance through your super, premiums are generally tax deductible to the super fund.

Getting advice

With so much to consider, seeking advice from a professional financial adviser is important to help make insurance affordable – and manageable – for you and your circumstances.  Give us a call if you’d like some help.  07 5593 0855.

Are you a Key Person?

Key-person insurance is Protection for your business

How would your organisation cope if something happened to a key person?

Unexpected events can play havoc not only with people’s lives but also with businesses.

However, business owners are often so busy they don’t stop to consider the true cost of the loss of a key employee, business partner or even themselves.  Eeeek!

The knock-on effects may include disruption to other staff, missed opportunities, delays or penalties for late delivery of projects, lost revenue, increased expenses, significant costs to find and train a suitable replacement, loan repayment and even loss of the business.  Ouch!

What is key-person insurance?

Key-person insurance protects a business’s financial position against the significant impact of a traumatic event such as the death or disablement of a key person.

A key person may be an employee, owner or an individual whose contribution to the business is significant.

This cover is not a specific kind of insurance but the application of life insurance to protect against key-person risk. It can be used with buy/sell life insurance (also known as business succession insurance) which covers the change of ownership if an owner dies or becomes incapacitated.

The benefits

Often a cash injection to an affected business may keep a bad situation from becoming worse or even catastrophic. The insurance proceeds may be used to:

  • minimise or eliminate the potential loss of revenue, sales or profits
  • help cover the often significant costs of finding or training a replacement
  • service or repay any debts that are called in
  • cover the impact of a writedown in the goodwill of the business
  • provide needed liquidity
  • help keep staff and maintain essential supplier relationships.

Are there alternatives?

A business may have other strategies to help manage their risks, including asset sales, promoting staff or reallocating workloads even temporarily, using profits, borrowing more, or drawing down existing loan facilities.

However, insurance is the only practical alternative where a business doesn’t have the capacity to cover its risks.

If you want to know more and see if it can apply to your business, why not give me a call? 07 5593 0855.

Running a Small Business? Make sure you are properly insured

Running a small business is hard work. The last thing you need is to lose it all because of poor insurance choices.

Do your homework

First you need to work out what needs to be covered. There are the obvious things such as plant and equipment, the less obvious things such as public liability, professional indemnity, and finally protecting the financial performance and position of the business on the sudden loss of a key person.

Policies should cover a wide range of eventualities and each business should have a policy package specifically geared to its needs.

People are the most important assets, and the success of the business may hinge on key personnel.

Business expense insurance can cover certain fixed business expenses, and key-person insurance can protect the financial performance in the event of a key person or business owner dies, is permanently disabled or suffers a traumatic event.

Insufficient coverage

Owners risk losing control of their companies, serious financial losses, and complex partnership problems by being uninsured, or underinsuring against something going wrong.

Having the wrong kind of insurance is equally risky and ultimately a waste of money, which is why it’s necessary to seek advice on the right insurance for your business.

It’s also important to regularly review and update your insurance, especially when your business grows or changes.

There is always tax

You do not have to pay capital gains tax (GST) on a business insurance settlement, provided you tell the insurer before making the claim what proportion of the premium you can claim GST credits for, which will be the part that relates to business purposes.

But remember, your accountant should assess all taxation matters.

Working together with your financial adviser to determine what insurances can be put in place is an important consideration when running a business.

The Insurance Council of Australia, http://www.understandinsurance.com.au, and the Australian Taxation Office, www.ato.gov.au, have more information.

How to cope financially with illness or injury

Bills still need to be paid even if illness or injury keep you out of work. But help is available if you need it.

Dealing with a serious illness or injury is stressful enough without having to consider how to cope financially.

However, making sure you get everything you are entitled to and offsetting bill payments can help relieve some of the stress of an already traumatic circumstance.

Advocates

When you are injured or ill, it’s easy to miss important information, so it’s essential to have someone by your side who can listen, question and ensure your needs are met.

Choose someone you can trust, such as a close relative or friend, who can be your advocate, and help understand instructions from medical professionals as well as organise any medical payments.

Services

The available government services include the Department of Human Services or Centrelink.

In very limited circumstances, you may get early access to your superannuation on compassionate grounds if the illness or injury is catastrophic. You can apply through the Department of Human Services.

You might also like to contact Financial Counselling Australia to talk to someone who can provide free, unbiased information to help with your financial difficulties.

Employment

Ask your employer how much paid sick leave you have, whether you can take unpaid leave, and how long you can have off work. The Fair Work Ombudsman’s sick and carers’ leave information covers your rights at work.

Insurance

Check your insurance policies, including any linked to your superannuation, to see if they provide income support or bill payment help.

Types of insurance include:

  • income protection, which provides an income if you are unable to work
  • health insurance, which can help with medical costs
  • total and permanent disability insurance, which can be included in your superannuation and covers the costs of rehabilitation, bill payments and living costs
  • trauma cover, which covers specified illnesses or injuries.

Reach out

Open up about your circumstances to your debtors and ask for a hardship variation to your bills or a repayment plan that offers paying in instalments.

From setting up these repayment plans to choosing appropriate insurance, a financial adviser may help you take care of your finances while you’re injured or ill, which means you can focus on recovering.

If you’re unsure even where to start, give us a call and we can review your paperwork to see if you’re eligible for any claims.

Have you heard about Child Trauma Cover?

If you’ve got kids, then one of the biggest things to concern you is their health.  Sniffles and colds are par for the course, as are bruises, bumps and scrapes.  But sometimes, life takes a much more serious turn… and I don’t just mean a broken arm!

Serious childhood illnesses can include cancers and tumours, organ failure, severe burns, traumatic head injury and blood borne illness.  Most of us know someone who’s had to nurse their little ones through leukemia or heart surgeries from quite young.

Many I speak with however, are unaware that Child Trauma cover even exists.  When I first heard about the cover, I made sure my children were signed up as soon as eligible. They have to be aged 2 to qualify.

In the event of a claim, the funds can be used to cover medical costs that may otherwise leave you well out of pocket.

A major factor in a child’s ability to pull through a major illness or injury can be the ability to spend time with parents, both preferably, through their convalescence.  So the lump sum received isn’t just about costs, it may also allow time off work as unpaid leave to allow you to just ‘be there’ for your little poeople.

But if you’re thinking the cost is prohibitive, think again.  Cover is approx. $1 for $10,000 cover, per month.  So, $100k is around $10 per month or $120 per annum and can be added to your existing personal insurances like your own Trauma cover (and only outside of superannuation.)  And, when the kids turn 18 or 21, cover can be converted to Adult Trauma cover with no underwriting.

 

 

If you’d like to investigate this cover further, don’t hesitate to give me a call or chat with your financial adviser.

Financial Things to do Before You Die

While it might not be as exciting a list as Bucket List inclusions like:

1. Head to Base Camp;

2. Dive the Great Barrier Reef;

3. Have a Champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower;

4. Stay in a yurt in Mongolia;

5. or sleep in an Igloo under the Northern Lights… it’s definitely a very loving legacy to leave behind for those you care about.

Unfortunately, I’ve had to assist in unraveling affairs of those who instead leave behind a financial mess for their family to navigate.  On top of grief, it’s a bitter pill to swallow when your financial affairs have not been left ‘in order.’  I know I’ve covered this issue before, but it’s so important to have finalised.

And I understand, it’s not a popular question to ponder and is likely hard to imagine, but what if something were to happen to you? Would your loved ones be taken care of or would they face a tough financial future?  Do they know what your wishes are?  Do you even have your important documents sorted?

The greatest gift you can leave your family and loved ones, is having your affairs sorted out before you go.  Please don’t think of this as something morbid… it might seem like I’m backing up the hearse and asking you to smell the roses here… but this isn’t about you, I promise.

If you have made plans, do your loved ones know where to find them? Would they know what assets you have, what insurance policies are in place or how to access your superannuation or life insurance?  Have they met your trusted advisers and know who to get in touch with if something were to happen?  Have you kept them in touch with what your wishes are?

Here are some simple steps you can take to protect the important people in your life:

  • Consolidate your assets and sort your bank accounts out
  • Ensure your life insurance is adequate based on your current circumstances
  • Make sure beneficiaries have been nominated (where possible) on your superannuation and insurance policies
  • Chat with your partner about what you’d like to have happen in the event of the unexpected
  • Ensure your Will is current – circumstances can change quickly!
  • Have your arranged for an Enduring Power of Attorney or completed an Advanced Health Directive?
  • Make sure those who need to know are aware of where your important documents are stored

Not everything will pass through your estate, so it’s wise to ensure you understand what forms estate assets and what stays outside.

Work through the list steadily and once it’s done, make sure it’s reviewed regularly.  Your loved ones will be glad you did.

Get it Together!

There’s so many things that fall into the too hard basket!  Life is busy and there’s so many other priorities!  Just making it through each day and falling into bed at night is a good day’s work for a lot of people.

But, when a tragedy befalls someone near and dear to us, we often see the fallout when people don’t have their sh*t together.  I’m often approached for insurances or to update beneficiaries of a super fund prompted by the life events that happened to ‘someone else.’

So what are the main areas to ‘get on top of’ when it’s time to get your act together?

Here’s my top tips!

  • Make sure your Will is current and reflects your wishes
  • Ensure you have appointed Powers of Attorney – Enduring and Medical
  • Make sure beneficiaries are nominated on Superannuation & Insurance Policies
  • Consolidate those Superannuation funds that you have lying around – or keep them if they have vital insurances
  • Ensure assets are owned correctly and your bank accounts are in order
  • Check over your Insurance Policies – especially Life, TPD, Trauma and Income Protection – are the levels of cover enough?
  • Bring the people who’ll be involved in sorting out your Estate up to date with your wishes
  • Ensure tax returns are up to date and completed annually – personally and for your business entities
  • If you have a partner or family, make them aware of what you’d like to happen
  • Let a couple of different people know where your important documents are stored in the event of the unexpected

Life changes.  Partners can come and go, children grow up and live their own lives, grandchildren arrive and significant people can waltz in and out of our lives.  It may be hassle to work through the list, and yes, some of it may be costly, but if you truly love those you’re leaving behind, one of the best gifts you can leave, is to have your sh*t together.

You really don’t want the crazy ex to benefit from your estate when your gorgeous new partner will be left destitute because you didn’t take the time to update your paperwork!

So, set a date to every year, ensure everything is just how you want it.  It could be on a birthday, an anniversary or at the turn of the calendar or financial year.  Get each area finalised then run an annual check to make sure they still reflect what you’d like to happen when you’re not there to arrange it.

I’ll bet there’s a few people who’ll be very thankful you did.