The Beginner s Guide to Income Protection

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1 The Beginner s Guide to Income Protection Are you thinking of protecting your income? Your Income Protection questions will be answered here! We have prepared a comprehensive guide for you with all the bits and pieces that are involved in understanding what Income Protection Insurance is and how it is different to other types of personal insurance. 1

2 Table of Contents Introduction 4 Chapter 1: What is Income Protection insurance? 7 But do I actually need it? 8 Are you suitable for income protection insurance? 9 Key consideration when comparing policies 10 Give your coverage an extra boost 10 Chapter 2: Why should I get Income Protection insurance? 10 Benefits of income protection insurance 11 Does income protection insurance provide coverage for redundancy? 12 Chapter 3: How does Income Protection work? 13 What factors will impact on how much I have to pay each month? 13 Understanding different premium payment structures 13 Agreed Value Policy vs Indemnity Value Policy 14 Carefully selecting the waiting period 16 Deciding on the benefit period 16 Determine the premium payment options 17 Which premium option should I choose? 18 Additional Options for Income Protection 18 Chapter 4: Other elements of Income Protection I should consider 20 Definitions of disability under income protection insurance 20 Different types of disability 20 Partial disability 21 Recurrent disability 22 If I have WorkCover, do I still really need Income Protection? 23 Changes to WorkCover

3 I have pre- existing medical conditions: will they be covered under Income Protection? 26 Chapter 5: How is your Income Protection calculated? 28 How to calculate the right amount of cover for income protection insurance 28 Calculating your monthly expenses 28 Tips to help you decide on the right income protection insurance policy 29 Is Income Protection insurance tax- deductible and GST free? 30 Chapter 6: Added features to an Income Protection policy 31 Chapter 7: Income Protection through your Superannuation 34 Chapter 8: How much will Income Protection cost me? 36 Chapter 9: What if I have a specific occupation? 38 High risk vs low occupation 39 How to choose income protection insurance for your career 40 Chapter 10: How do I go with buying an Income Protection policy? 42 What I need to know about income protection 42 How to Buy the Best Income Protection 44 Chapter 11: Comparing Income Protection policies: Tips 45 What to look for from Income Protection quotes 46 Benefits in getting online Income Protection quotes 47 Frequently asked questions 48 Test your knowledge: Income Protection Quiz 50 3

4 Introduction With 83% of Australian's currently having insurance in place for their cars (AAMI, 2008), one would think that the same number of people would have considered to safeguard their most important asset - themselves and their ability to earn an income. Alarming research has shown that a mere 31% of Australians have income protection (TNS/IFSA, 2006) and of those, only 26% of families with dependent children are insured (Lifewise/NATSEM, 2010). So, what does this mean? For us, hard working people, not being able to work because of an injury or illness can only mean loss of income. Without this steady flow of income, many would experience great financial stress they try to cover bills, buy groceries, cover school fees and make rent or mortgage repayments. 4

5 An Underinsured Nation The statistics have shown that when it comes to insurance, Australians still very much have that 'you'll be 'right mate' sort of attitude. No one can predict the future and the best you can do for yourself and those you cherish, is to ensure you have the right level of protection in place. Lets consider the possible expenses that may be incurred if you were suddenly unable to work due to illness or injury; Possible Expenses that May Result from Illness or Injury Finances may be required to cover participation in a rehabilitation program or other expenses such as modifications to your home Your spouse or another family member may need to take time off work to care for you resulting in a reduction in their own income You may require the assistance of a registered full- time nurse while you recover You may have become disabled while overseas and require assistance to be transported back home If you are a self- employed business owner, you may require financial help to cover expenses so your business is not forced to close 5

6 Everyday Expenses Short Term Debt - Credit Card and Car Repayments Groceries Utilities Bills Education Fees Mortgage and Rent Repayments Still not sure? The Life Insurance Finder team are here to help you and we ll make sure that we inform you everything there is to know about Income Protection, and assist you in making the right decision to insure yourself with the right type of cover. But, firstly, let get you acquainted with what income protection is, its features and who are eligible to take advantage of this insurance in Chapter 1. 6

7 Chapter 1: What is Income Protection insurance? Income Protection insurance, to put it simply, is a type of personal insurance that provides a proportion of your income in the event that you are unable to work due to serious illness or injury. Most policies will provide a monthly benefit of up to 75% of your normal income. But Do I Actually Need It? To answer this question, consider how long you would be able to cover your day to day expenses if your source of income was suddenly removed. How long would you be able to dip into your savings before you can no longer afford to pay your bills, rent/mortgage or put food on the table for you and your family. Income protection provides peace of mind so you can enjoy your current way of life knowing your family will not be put under this strain. Key Benefits and Features of Income Protection Insurance So, in other words, making sure that your income is protected can give you the power to choose on how to live your daily lives. When your recovery, due to an illness or injury, has been prolonged for an indefinite time, it can put you and your family under an enormous pressure financially - trying to make ends meet, as well as, physically and emotionally - from all the stress. Being insured can take away all the worries of having to go through such hardship. Coverage for a range of illnesses Each provider will offer a list of medical conditions that they will pay a benefit for. 24/7 Coverage Most policies will provide coverage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week anywhere in the world. Waiver of Premium Premiums will generally be waived while the insured is on claim. Pays a portion of your income and extras Most income protection insurance policies will pay you around 75% of your regular income while you are off work with an illness or injury. This payment will also include superannuation contributions and any other benefits you receive. 7

8 Your choice of waiting period Depending on your situation and your current savings, you can choose the period between making a claim and receiving your first benefit payment. The longer the waiting period you choose, the lower your premiums will be, and you can often choose a period from two weeks, up to two years. Just remember that benefit payments are often paid monthly in arrears, so if you have a waiting period of 60 days, you will need to wait 60 days, plus another 30 days before you receive your first payment. Your choice of benefit period Again, the longer the benefit period you choose, the more expensive your premiums will be, but you don t want your income protection to run out before you are ready to re- commence your career. You can either choose a set period of two or five years for example, or until a certain age, such as 65, when your retirement funds will be accessible. Choose and agreed or indemnity benefit You can choose an agreed benefit amount when you take out income protection, so that the full benefit amount will be paid when you make an eligible claim, regardless of your actual income at the time you make the claim. An indemnity benefit is based on your income at the time of the claim and will require financial checks to be made before your benefit can be paid. An indemnity policy often has cheaper premiums, but is usually only ideal if your income increases regularly each year, for example if you are self employed, because otherwise you could risk a lower benefit payout. Are you suitable for an income protection insurance? Read through the checklist below to find out if you are eligible for Income Protection Insurance; You have to be to 64 years old An Australian citizen or a holder of an Australian Permanent Visa Working and residing in Australia upon application Working on at least 20 hours per week Holding the same position for at least 12 months Criteria for successfully receiving cover may differ from provider to provider. While you may not receive coverage from one provider, there may be others on the market that are willing to provide you with the appropriate cover. 8

9 Key Considerations When Comparing Policies There are two crucial elements of Income Protection to consider when looking to take out a policy: 1 The length of time you would like to be covered for. 2 The amount of cover that will meet your day- to- day or monthly expenses. In addition to these two factors, it is essential to gain a clear understanding of what built- in features and additional options are available on the policy. Find out what is necessary for your current needs so you can find the best policy at the right price. Give Your Coverage an Extra Boost! The most common level of cover that income protection insurance can provide is a benefit pay of 75% from your income, shall you have to cease work due to an unforeseen illness or accident. There are a number of insurers that will allow extra coverage up to 15%, from the 75% maximum - however, it is important to note that the additional amount must be used as superannuation contribution. As an example, if your coverage entitles you a payment of up to 80% of your monthly income - you will receive the 75% and the remaining 5% will be paid into your super fund. You can then select the length of time you would like the benefits to paid - which can span from 2 years up to 65 years of age. What is even better about being insured with an income protection policy, is that the premiums you pay are tax- deductible! So, you are not only protecting yourself and your family at times of the unknown, but you also get to save some money during tax time! The Australian Government is working hard with insurance providers to make sure that insurance is more accessible to everyone - think about the statistics from TNS and IFSA (2006) which showed that only 31% of Australians are insured with an income protection policy! There is no better time than now to protect yourself and your family and consider income protection as part of your personal insurance portfolio. With so many competitive options on the Australian market, it is essential to take the time to consider your own needs and compare as many relevant products as possible so you can receive the right level of protection into the future. Now you have a firm grasp of what Income Protection Insurance actually is, let s take a closer look at some of the benefits of taking out income cover. 9

10 Chapter 2: Why should I get an Income Protection insurance? Economic instability in the past decade has shown the financial stress many face when their main source of income is taken away. Being unable to provide for yourself, let alone your financial dependents in the event of serious illness or injury can have truly devastating impacts. While it may not be a complete replacement of your income, the 75% proportion of your salary provided in monthly benefits goes an extremely long way in keeping food in your table and the mortgage repayments at bay. Benefits of income protection insurance Income protection insurance protects you from the unknown. Nobody knows when they may suffer a serious injury or illness. Obviously the occupation and lifestyle of some pay place them in riskier situations than others but the fact remains that accidents and illness can happen to anyone and without warning. 10

11 The benefits of having an Income Protection insurance As you can see from the diagram above, income protection insurance has significant benefits on how it can maintain your quality of life, especially at unexpected times when you are rendered with a disability and you will have to take time off work for recovery. In addition, income replacement insurance also has additional features which are designed to further assist you to 11

12 transition smoothly when you return to work - which covers your costs for rehabilitation, re- training, adjustments and modifications incurred by the disability. Does income protection insurance provide coverage for redundancy? There are many income protection policies that offer features that provide benefit payments for a set period if the policyholder finds themselves involuntarily unemployed. Policyholders will often have to provide evidence that they have attempted to seek new employment. Premium Waiver for Involuntary Unemployment Many policies will also enable policyholders to waive premiums payable for a set period if they find themselves involuntarily unemployed for a set period. Other instances in which premiums can be waived include; Unable to work due to your role as a caregiver for somebody Sabbatical Maternity leave Paternity leave The next chapter will delve a little deeper into the components contained within an income protection policy, which are essential as they can be tailored specifically to your needs and personal circumstances. By the end of it, you should be well on your way in figuring out the inner workings of income protection! The next chapter will delve a little deeper into the components contained within an income protection policy, which are essential as they can be tailored specifically to your needs and personal circumstances. By the end of it, you should be well on your way in figuring out the inner workings of income protection! 12

13 Chapter 3: How does Income Protection work? Nobody is the same. Whether it be spending health, occupation, hobbies or lifestyle, each of us carry different characteristics that determine the level of risk that we carry. This risk will determine how people are assessed by insurance different insurance providers which will then be reflected in the premium that they will pay. What Factors Will Impact On How Much I Have to Pay Each Month? Age: The older you are, the more risks you are perceived to carry Gender: Women pay higher premiums than men, because women are considered to be more likely to make a claim and require more time for recovery Current health condition Pre- existing medical conditions Occupation: High risks occupation such a manual and construction worker will pay more premiums than those who work in an office Lifestyle choices: Whether you are a smoker and/or have regular drinking habits, your premium will be higher due to the increased risks of claim Understanding Different Premium Payment Structures As different individuals will have different circumstances that make them unique, the same goes with insurance providers. These companies will have their own prices for their product lines and each product may suit one, but may not for another - which is why there is no such thing as a fixed policy across the board for any insurance. When you are starting to look for quotes on income protection insurance, you will find out that there are two different policy types, which are indemnity value policy and agreed value policy. Indemnity value policy, in very simple terms, means the benefits you receive will depend upon the financial evidence (which is your wage earnings) that you present at the time of a claim. On the other hand, agreed value policy s benefit payment will be based upon a specific percentage of your current income at the time of application with the maximum of 75%. One policy price may be suitable for one situation and not for the other, therefore it is crucial that assess the different covers against your current situation to determine which one will be most suitable to you. 13

14 Agreed Value Policy vs Indemnity Value Policy Agreed Value Policy Under this type of income insurance policy, you have to prove your income when you sign up Your policy is using your income at the time you applied for the policy The premiums you will have to pay under this type is much higher up to 20% than the indemnity value You are sure how much you will receive regardless of the changes in your income PROS The monthly benefit you receive is agreed upon the time of your application and will not change regardless of the change in your income when you file a claim Most suited to people whose income is more likely to fluctuate or change along the way - benefit amount will stay the same even if your income is reduced in the future Good for those who have their own business or are self- employed, or for women are in the process of planning a family - as taking maternity leave and unpaid leave may cause a decrease in income when and if they go back to work Indemnity Value Policy The payment of your benefit under this policy is based on the salary you declared upon enrolment Your policy is assessed when you file a claim Indemnity value income protection is cheaper than agreed value The amount of benefit paid to you will be the lesser of 75 percent of your pre- disability income, or the monthly amount insured* shown in the policy. *Income earned over the last 12 months, or the best 12 months over a specific period of time (definition may vary from one provider to the other) PROS The indemnity value protection program leans towards being slightly cheaper, if price is an important factor to you More suited for regularly employed individuals whose salaries are consistently stable and changes are usually kept to a minimum 14

15 The quick process can help reduce the stress when filing for a claim - you don t need to provide financial evidence. CONS You will need to present proof of your income when you apply, for verification More expensive in price CONS Financial checks are required and necessary when you make a claim If you have recently earned less before the start of the policy - it could reduce the amount of the payable benefit The insured will assume the risk of changes in their income Carefully selecting the waiting period Besides choosing the right policy cover for you, another important element to decide on is the waiting period. Waiting period is the amount of time you are willing to wait, from the time you are unable to work and earn your income due to an illness or accident, until the time your benefit payment will begin. There are a number of days or periods that you can choose: 14 days 30 days 60 days 90 days 1 year 2 years To decide which period will be most suitable to you, consider whether you have enough financially to cover your monthly expenses for the duration, or if you receive a paid sick leave from your employer, think about whether it will provide an assistance to your financial situation, thus allowing you to wait a little bit longer for the benefit payment. In general, the longer the waiting period, the more you will save in paying your insurance cost as it will result in a lower income protection price. It is important to note that the benefits are usually paid to you in arrears from when the waiting period ends. For example, if the waiting period you have selected is 30 days: 15

16 Waiting Period What Happens? Day 1 Day 30 Day 60 The commencement of the disability or illness, that causes you to cease work temporarily, with attention from medical practitioner. Waiting period ends. First benefit payment commences. Deciding on the benefit period The other element of a policy that you need to select will be the benefit period. A benefit period, or deferment period, is the maximum length of time that you would like your benefits payments to last. It will start at the end of your waiting period and continues for the period you have agreed on for the policy, as long as you continue to be ill, or partially or totally disabled. The most common benefit periods are 2 years, 5 years, or up to the age of 65. Some policies also offer additional benefits of which you will be able to extend the length of time you are covered from 65 to 70 years old. In order to decide how long you would like to be covered for, you have to think about how long you can survive, relying solely on your saving in the event you are not able to generate an income and take into consideration your financial commitments such as debts and loan repayments that still need to be made despite of the cease of your earnings. This will also then influence the price of your policy. Whilst it is best to opt for a longer period of cover, since you will not be able to predict the amount of time you shall be hindered by an illness or injury, you also need to think whether you will be able afford the premium accordingly to your budget, as a longer cover is generally much more expensive. The following table illustrates the benefit periods currently available for income protection policies in Australia: Benefit Period Maximum Age for Policy Renewal 2 years 65 5 years 65 to age

17 to age to age Lifetime 65 Determine the premium payment options There are a few options you can choose from for paying your premium. The most common options are stepped premium and level premium, though hybrid premium is gaining popularity more and more these days. Stepped premiums Stepped premiums are linked to your age, which means that your premium is calculated based on your age, which will increase accordingly over the term of the policy. As it is based on your age, you will pay a cheaper premium initially, though it will gradually increase over time when the policy is renewed in line with your age. The reason why you pay much less on premium at the beginning with this option is because as you age, the mortality risk will also increase. Mortality risk is the likely risk of a particular person to die at a certain age - which is reflected in the increase of the premium every year as you age. Level premiums Level premiums mean that the premium will remain constant over the term of the policy, as it is set at the beginning. You may be paying a much higher premium initially when you start your policy, but it ll remain the same throughout as your age and mortality risk have no effect on your premium whatsoever. However, there a limitation on this type of payment - you can only opt for level premium until you are 65 years of age. Hybrid premiums Hybrid premiums combine the best out of both stepped and level premiums. You will initially pay an increasing premium rate, but after 10 years, you will be able to switch automatically to a fixed/level premium rate, which will remain the same until you turn 60 years of age. Therefore, hybrid or blended premiums can be considered to offer the best out of both worlds - a cheaper 17

18 premium rate to pay at the beginning (compared to a level premium), but also remain cheaper than a stepped premium. Which premium option should I choose? To determine which option of premium payment that is more suitable for you, think about other factors beside the price - such as how able are you to sustain the premium payments on a long- term basis. Here are some tips on deciding which one of the different premium payment options is the most suitable one for you: Stepped premiums are suitable for those who are considering life insurance that would cover a short- term loan Level premiums are more catered for those who are able to pay a higher initial costs as they are looking for a long- term protection Hybrid or blended premiums will be able to accommodate those who are looking for a lower initial premium payments, but are very interested in making a long- term investment. Additional Options for Income Protection There are a number of ways in which you can finance your income protection insurance, which can be found from the following: Individual Funded Income Protection Insurance As the name suggests, this form of income protection will be paid out of your own pocket. If you decide to fund this insurance on your own, you will need develop a strategic plan on how to make payments accordingly to your budget or cash flow. Superannuation Funded Income Protection Insurance This form of income protection will be accessed through your superannuation fund. If you have your income protection insurance through the super fund, it is generally much cheaper in terms of cost and it is also tax effective. If you decide to take out the insurance from your super, you need to consider how it will affect your retirement savings. A more detailed information on income protection through your Superannuation will be covered on Chapter 7. Company Funded Income Protection Insurance This type of income protection is set up by companies/organisations for their employees - therefore, the company pays for it. 18

19 Whichever way you decide on how to finance your income protection policy, it is up to your discretion and depending on your current financial situations. Make sure that you understand the differences of benefits from each style of income protection policy, its advantages and disadvantages to determine which will best suit your needs. The previous chapters of this guide have explained what income protection insurance is, the benefits it can provide you, and essential components of a policy which directly affect the level of premium you pay. The following chapter will also discuss additional factors that influence the premium level, and most importantly the definitions of disability that can have an impact to your benefits. 19

20 Chapter 4: Other elements of Income Protection I should consider With so many different income protection policies in the current market, it is critical to find the one with the necessary features and benefits to provide the right level of protection for your current situation. The Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) can inform you of what is and isn t included to help you decide if this is the right option. Definitions of disability under income protection insurance Disabilities can come in forms of either total or partial, and temporary or permanent. As the definition of total and permanent disability varies from one insurer to the other, definitions of total and partial disability vary between providers, so it is essential you clearly understand when a benefit will and will not be paid. Since there are differences on how disabilities are defined under an income protection insurance contract, it is essential that you understand what they are as it will assist you in deciding which type of income protection you may need before you sign the contract. Under an income protection cover, a total disability has the characteristics from the following (in most definitions): An event such as an illness or accident Inability to work caused by the sickness or accident A subsequent decrease in income due to the illness or injury. A total disability is defined to describe the results of an event, which again, will vary amongst different insurance providers. The three types of definitions that are available in Australia currently are as the following: Different Types of Disability Duties based disability Income based definition Hours based disability This is classed as when you are unable to perform one or more important duties in your role at work because of Is when you have suffered a reduction in your income because of an accident or sickness. Means you are unable to perform your work duties for a certain number of hours per week, for example 20

21 illness or injury - duties could include manual work, supervision, desk work, meeting with clients or presentations. 10 hours per week, because of sickness or an accident. Own occupation definition under an income protection policy will also have variations, such as: Not able to perform at least one of the important duties of their regular occupation Not able to perform the important or essential duties Not able to perform each and every duty. Partial Disability Income protection provides coverage not only total disability from a sickness or accident, but also partial disability. Partial disability means that a person is able to work part time or in another occupation and is not totally disabled. It is important to note that the partial disability definition in income protection policies will vary between insurance companies and is usually dependent upon your income and work situation at the time of claim. For a claim to be paid under partial disability, you must be totally disabled for at least the minimum waiting period before you receive a payment. During this period, you will also need to be under the advice of a medical professional, which will then confirm your condition to be either total or partial. Once confirmed, you will no longer be paid a full benefit and instead your policy will be calculated using a certain formula or criteria to determine the partial disability benefit. 21

22 The criteria of your partial disability benefit payment will vary accordingly to the three class definitions of disability: Duties based definition Since this definition is based upon whether or not you are able to perform the normal and essential tasks at work, the partial disability benefit payment will be calculated based upon a formula: [(Pre- disability income current income)/pre- disability income] x Monthly benefit This works best for employees that get paid a monthly salary Income based definition Regardless of how many hours you work or how many normal tasks and duties you can perform, if you are still affected by a sickness or injury and experiencing a decrease on your income, then you are entitled to a benefit payment. In some circumstances, when you are earning up to 20% of your pre- disability income, certain insurance providers will continue to provide a full benefit payment. Hours based definition Under hours based definition, the criteria is based upon the number of hours you spend at work. Some insurers provide what is called a "10- hours clause" in their income protection policies, which will allow you to return to work for up to 10 hours and still able to receive a full total disability benefit payment. This works best for self employed individuals that may have inconsistent earnings, in which income may received prior to the disability. Recurrent Disability If you suffered a relapse/recurrence of the same illness or injury for which you have been receiving benefit payments, when you claim consecutively, your waiting period may be waived. It is essential to note that the recurrent disability has to occur within 6 months of the original disability for you to be able to take advantage on the waiver. Beyond this period, the waiting and benefit period will begin at default. 22

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