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October 7, 2009
Superannuation funds have long provided a minimum amount of “default” life insurance to members but many are now starting to add other types of insurance, which raises the question of whether your super fund is the best place for all this cover.
Leading industry super fund AustralianSuper – which has more than 1.4 million members, or roughly one in every 10 workers – announced recently it would also make income protection automatic from early next year, along with life cover.
As part of a new deal with insurer TAL, AustralianSuper will provide default income protection cover that pays 75 per cent of salary, plus 10 per cent super contributions, for up to two years in the event of illness or accident.
Insurance specialists say there are definite advantages to buying some types of insurance through super but people need to do so with their eyes open because super-based insurance is more complex and premiums will erode retirement savings. Also, policies structured for a group won’t necessarily fit an individual’s circumstances.
A risk specialist at Centric Wealth, Roy Agranat, says there are three main advantages: generally its cheaper because you’re accessing wholesale rates; group policies involve “automatic acceptance” up to a set level of cover with no medical questions asked; and “smokers and non-smokers pay the same rate”.
A senior insurance manager at AustralianSuper, Greg Staunton, says its members will have access to as much as $20,000 a month in income protection without the need for medical checks, under automatic acceptance.
Also, there’s no restriction on occupation in the AustralianSuper scheme, whereas outside members might find an insurer won’t cover a certain job because it’s deemed too risky. Another important advantage of super-based insurance is it overcomes apathy.
Agranat says: “If you spoke to 100 people in a group plan, you’d find a very low percentage would actually have taken out personal income protection. This gives them something they didn’t have – they don’t have the hassle of going to search for it.”
Young, single people tend to consider themselves “bulletproof”, he says. “They don’t bother about income protection, yet at this stage of life their biggest asset is their ability to generate an income.”
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