Five Insurance extras to consider

Thinking of increasing your Insurance protection, or simply would like to know what’s available and how you can make the most of it?

Depending on the type of cover you have in place, there are certain extras you can consider. Here’s an outline of some handy optional benefits you can add to your policy, and of course, feel free to contact us if you’d like to go more in-depth about your options.

For Life Insurance

Does your policy have a funeral or bereavement benefit? Depending on the ownership structure of your Life Insurance, it may take some time for the funds to reach your family – just when they need it most.

A funeral or bereavement benefit option means that a lump sum can be deducted from your total insured amount and paid to your family a lot quicker. This gives them peace of mind that the costs of your funeral are covered, without having to wait.

For Health Insurance

Most Health Insurance plans offer a range of options; from basic surgical-only cover, to including doctors and dentists cover. Often when you need surgery, there will be tests and imaging that also need to be completed. If you haven’t included these options in your Health Insurance cover, you could find yourself out of pocket. Take some time to consider the various options available, and make sure you have included the ones that will give you the most benefit, at a cost that is reasonable to you.

For Income Protection

When you are off work, and no income is coming in, you are probably more worried about how you will meet your obligations than you are about continuing to save for your retirement. Adding on a retirement protection option to your Income Protection Insurance means that your current regular deductions will still be made, allowing you to focus on getting better rather than worrying about what a period of no income will do to your future.

Another useful option to consider is a waiver of premium benefit. This means that when you are on claim, any due Insurance premiums will be paid for by this additional option – giving you one less budget concern.

For Trauma Insurance

Trauma Insurance pays out a lump sum if you suffer one of the specified injuries or illnesses. Generally, it is designed to help you meet additional or extraordinary costs until you go back to work. However, what if you never go back to work as you have suffered a total and permanent disability (TPD)?

Having TPD cover as an optional extra on your Trauma cover could provide you with an additional lump sum, just when you need it most.

The bottom line? Review your cover regularly and always feel free to talk to us. We can help keep you informed about optional extras that may make your policy do more for you.

 

Disclaimer: Please note that the content provided in this article is intended as an overview and as general information only. While care is taken to ensure accuracy and reliability, the information provided is subject to continuous change and may not reflect current development or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek advice from a financial adviser.

What happens when Pharmac doesn’t cover it?

There has been plenty of buzz in the media about Pharmac and unfunded cancer drugs – but what is it all about?

Read on for an outline of what Pharmac is, and how it works with our public healthcare system. And most importantly, what you can do to get affordable access to those treatments, whether they are publicly funded or not…

What is Pharmac and how does it work?

As you may know, Pharmac is a government agency that is responsible for deciding which medicines, vaccines and other treatments will be publicly funded in New Zealand. They also assess the continued performance of currently-funded pharmaceuticals. The agency has a finite budget every year, so its decisions are based on the recommendations of sub-committees and the results of clinical trials.

Unfortunately, this limited budget means that many potentially life-saving or life-extending drugs are not presently being funded, adding a financial burden to the emotional strain.

What does this mean for Kiwis?

Some ‘protest’ action has seen important treatments like Keytruda and Herceptin receive funding, but generally speaking, it’s best not to rely on Pharmac being able to amend its approved schedule – especially not at short notice.

We never plan on falling ill, but life has a way of making its own plans sometimes. If you find yourself in need of life-saving medication, but Pharmac doesn’t fund it, the alternative is to privately pay the costs of obtaining the treatment – often reaching thousands of dollars each month. For many New Zealanders, this just isn’t viable.

What can we do?

A good way to avoid possible heartache in the future is to sort out your ‘safety net’ today – the most effective of which is Health Insurance.

This Insurance type gives you the much-needed option of having private specialist/diagnostic treatments for an illness or condition, avoiding public hospital waiting lists. Plus, something you may not know, certain policies also cover the cost of non-Pharmac funded medicines.

This is a very important thing to consider when taking out Health cover. What would you do if you had to pay for treatment? And if you couldn’t afford it, could you afford to wait? This is where the right Health Insurance policy can make all the difference.

Remember: not all Insurance policies are equal, so if you’d like to talk about your needs and options, please get in touch. Finding the right cover could mean receiving the treatments you need when you need them, without the added worry of where the money is going to come from.

 

 

Disclaimer: Please note that the content provided in this article is intended as an overview and as general information only. While care is taken to ensure accuracy and reliability, the information provided is subject to continuous change and may not reflect current development or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek advice from a financial adviser. 

‘Secrets’ of a successful Insurance claim

Time to make an Insurance claim? Getting in touch with us is always the first best step: we can help you through the process and let you know what you need to do.

But there are some other things you can do to help your chances of a successful claim. Read on for some key examples…

Complete the form in full

As your adviser, we are always here to help you with the paperwork. But if you have to complete any forms, make sure you give the Insurance provider all the information they need to assess your claim.

You need to answer every question on the claim form fully, or state why it is not relevant. Insurance providers use this information to decide if you have a valid claim, and therefore whether they will pay your claim. If you don’t provide all the information that is needed, it could delay your claim being approved, or even worse, it could be declined because you haven’t demonstrated a valid claim exists.

Read your Insurance policy

Not sure if you are covered? Once again, we are here to answer any questions you may have – big and small. In the meantime, taking a moment to read your policy is always a good idea (especially before submitting a claim).

Depending on the type of policy you have, some claim events might be excluded or only covered in certain circumstances. If you are unsure whether your event is covered, check with us: we can help you make sure you are following the provider’s claims process, submitting the claim to the right person or department.

Gather all the necessary details

While we work hard to take the hassle out of claim time, there are still things that only you can do.

Depending on the type of Insurance you have, for example, you may need to gather the evidence and write a complete account of what happened. The more information you can provide, the clearer everything is for your insurer – which may reduce the amount of time for your claim to be paid.

 

Accuracy is one of the secret ingredients of a successful Insurance claim, but with the amount of information you need to provide, claim time can be stressful. Our advice is: talk to us, as we can help you prepare and file your claim. Most importantly, we are an advocate for you, so if something is a bit ‘grey’ we can liaise with the Insurance provider on your behalf, for a hopefully successful outcome.

Disclaimer: Please note that the content provided in this article is intended as an overview and as general information only. While care is taken to ensure accuracy and reliability, the information provided is subject to continuous change and may not reflect current development or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek advice from a financial adviser.

Take control of your Insurance premiums in four steps

 

 

Like to keep your Insurance premiums as low as possible? While premiums usually increase with age, there are things you can actively do to reduce your premium costs – including choosing the right premium type.

Check out these four steps to be in control of your finances.

 

Building healthy long-term habits

Positive things like quitting cigarettes or reducing drinking can go a long way in keeping your premiums as low as possible.

Insurance premiums have ‘loadings’ when there are certain lifestyle risk factors present. For example, smokers automatically have a 100% loading, meaning premium costs (for the same level of cover and same age) are double what non-smokers’ are.

Even if you consider yourself more of a ‘social’ smoker, keep in mind that you are still considered a smoker for the purposes of calculating your premium. If you’d like to keep your health and bank account a break, consider kicking the habit completely.

Like smoking, excessive alcohol consumption can also cause some significant health issues, which means a loading may be added. If your level of regular drinking exceeds recommended weekly limits, an additional premium may be charged because of the higher risk of a future claim. By keeping your alcohol consumption within recommended limits, you may be able to reduce the costs of your premium.

Having a rainy-day fund

Have a good savings habit and your own emergency fund in place? Your savings could save you premium costs as well.

Premiums are based on the level of cover you need, and some covers also have an excess or a wait period before the cover starts being paid out. The longer the wait period and the higher the excess you select, the lower the premium. So if your rainy-day fund is enough to cover the excess or your living costs during your wait period, this can be a good way to save money.

Dangerous hobbies

Dangerous hobbies – or at least ones with a higher chance of causing injury or worse – are likely to attract a higher premium, if cover is accepted.

Perhaps you enjoy hang-gliding, scuba diving or the odd spot of rock climbing – and we are certainly not suggesting you should stop. But keep in mind that, if you want cover for potential loss caused by these activities, you will usually need to pay a higher premium for the higher risk. You can lower your premium by either giving up the hazardous activity or having cover for the activity excluded from your policy.

Choosing the right premium type

Usually, Insurance premiums increase with age, and that’s what we call ‘stepped premiums’ or ‘rate-for-age premiums’: the vast majority of Insurance policies in New Zealand fall into this category.

But there’s another premium type, which remains the same throughout the term of your policy: we are talking about ‘level premiums’.

Unlike stepped premiums, which are cheaper initially but get more and more expensive in the future, level premiums are consistent over time so you can avoid the additional cost later in life (when you’re more likely to claim). In other words, you may have the option to fix the cost and secure the long-term affordability of your cover.

 

Like to learn more about level premiums or want to discuss other ways to keep your premiums manageable? Please get in touch. You have got some control over your Insurance premiums, and by making key changes, you may be able to reduce costs.

 

Disclaimer: Please note that the content provided in this article is intended as an overview and as general information only. While care is taken to ensure accuracy and reliability, the information provided is subject to continuous change and may not reflect current development or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek advice from a financial adviser.

Seven good times to review your Insurance

Seven good times to review your Insurance

Life always moves fast and forward. It’s a string of choices and change, all of which could affect your protection needs.

To simplify things a little, we’ve narrowed down the list to seven key life events that may trigger the need to review your Insurance. Read on, and if you’ve hit any of these milestones since your last review, please consider giving your policies a check-up.

Having a baby

Starting a family is one of the most life-changing experiences you can have. And before a new baby arrives, it’s a good idea to update your existing policies or secure new ones.

As a parent, your family’s wellbeing is your number-one concern, and depending on your situation certain types of covers may be more appropriate than others, including Life and Health Insurance. If you need help finding the right fit for your circumstances, please get in touch with us.

Purchasing a house

Home-ownership is the quintessential Kiwi dream, and something that you’ve worked so hard for is worth protecting.

Keep in mind that a mortgage is a long-term financial commitment, and a lot can happen in between. If you lost the ability to earn an income, or worse, could your family handle mortgage repayments? Having a plan for the unexpected can make all the difference.

Paying off debt

As we’ve just seen, taking on debt is a good reason to consider increasing your cover. But keep in mind that the opposite scenario is also true.

So what if you manage to reduce your debt or pay off a big chunk of it – for example, your entire loan? Well, that’s a perfect time to celebrate and reassess your Insurance needs. Is your level of coverage too high now? Can you tune it down and save yourself some money?

Getting a new job

Have you recently landed a new job? If so, your income may have changed too, and it might be worth checking if your Insurance plan is still affordable or appropriate to your needs.

Plus, if you had a pay rise, why not look at increasing your level of coverage? Have you ever considered Income Protection or Trauma?

Getting married or separating

When your relationship status changes, so do your financial situation and Insurance needs. If you want to make sure that your protection has you covered, it’s important to update your cover.

Starting a business

Your business is more than just a simple job: it’s your creation. But as you know, launching your own venture also comes with a few additional expenses and risks. Once again, anything can happen, and protecting your ability to pay off debt is critical.

Like to explore your Business Insurance options? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Becoming empty-nesters

Being a parent is a job you never stop doing, no matter how independent your kids are. But besides the emotional aspect, there’s also a financial side to this transition.

If your children have left home and are standing on their own feet, take the time to check whether you still have the right level of cover in place – not too high and not too low, just right.

 

Do any of these life events sound familiar to you? Please feel free to contact us: we’d be happy to guide you through your options. And remember: conducting regular reviews is one of the best ways to fine-tune your Insurance and make it suit your ever-changing needs.

An Adviser Disclosure Statement is available free and upon request.

What does Life Insurance REALLY buy you?

Life Insurance – while not everybody has it, those who do generally have cover to ‘pay off the mortgage’ or ‘leave something to the kids’ should they prematurely die.

However, Life Insurance provides more than just a debt repayment, or bequest facility. Life Insurance ensures your family is able to maintain their lifestyle in the event you are no longer there earning an income and contributing to the family’s costs.

And if you add up how much income the family would potentially lose, it is often a lot more than the level of cover most people have.
So, what can life insurance buy your family?

Peace of mind

In the event of your premature death, your family immediately loses your income – which they are likely to be relying on to pay bills and meet lifestyle costs. Having cover in place means your family has the peace of mind that, in the event of something happening to you, they will still be financially OK.

Freedom of choice

Having a lump sum available means that your family or surviving partner has the ability to make choices that suit them, rather than having to decide because of financial considerations.

For example, if your family can’t meet the mortgage payments, they may have to sell and move to a different area, away from schools and friends. Having cover in place to either repay the mortgage in full or meet the payments for a specified period of time, means that they have the freedom of choice to stay put or move.

Time for grief

Grief is different for everyone. While one person may want to keep working through that period, another may feel the need to take time out.

Having some funds available to replace income for a specified period of time (two years, for example), means that the surviving spouse can grieve in their own way, and not feel pressured to have to return to work – or find work if they were not working.

A lifestyle for your family

Lifestyle isn’t just about paying the mortgage and bills. What do you and your partner or family enjoy doing? What hobbies or sporting activities do your children have that you’d like them to be able to keep doing, even if your income has stopped?

By provisioning some additional funds for lifestyle needs, your family can maintain their lifestyle, with less stress and change in the event of your premature death. And remember: even if you’re not the main income earner (or maybe not earning any income at all), your contribution to the house has a quantifiable financial benefit, which needs to be considered.

An Adviser Disclosure Statement is available free and upon request. 

The problem with Insurance from the bank

We all love a bargain – after all, nothing feels quite as good as the immediate emotional reward of purchasing something ‘on the cheap’. That’s why securing Insurance from a bank might seem like a convenient, hassle-free option: low price, short forms to fill, no questions asked. But when you’re signing up for a long-term Insurance plan, are bank-sold covers good value-for-money?

Depending on your circumstances and needs, more often than not, the answer is no. Here are the key reasons why taking out Insurance through a bank, rather than through an Insurance Adviser, may not be a good idea.

The price you pay for ‘saving time’

Just like online Insurance, most bank-sold Insurance policies are marketed as quick, easy-to-set-up solutions. Consumers are told that they can get “cover immediately in branch or over the phone”, in just “10-15 minutes”, and most importantly, with “no need to provide detailed information” about their health or occupation. In Insurance jargon, it means that you are applying for a ‘non-underwritten’ Insurance cover.

The underwriting process is designed to give you certainty over when you’re covered for an insurable event. And this is essentially what differentiates a bank-sold policy from a policy secured with the help of an Insurance Adviser.

By guiding you through the paperwork and asking detailed questions about your individual circumstances (e.g. health, lifestyle, occupation, etc.), an adviser can help you tailor your policy to your unique needs. For example, if you have pre-existing medical conditions, those may not always be excluded: after a thorough assessment of your situation, the Insurance provider may decide to cover them and add a ‘stand-down’ period or increase your premiums.

On the contrary, non-underwritten products usually have a blanket exclusion for pre-existing conditions, as well as certain so-called ‘hazardous activities’ such as mountaineering, rock climbing or motorsports.

Are they really cheaper?

In 2016, an independent insurance product research firm compared some of the most popular Life Insurance covers available. What Quality Product Research found is that ‘quick and easy’ non-underwritten products may end up costing almost 70% more than their fully underwritten counterparts.

Of course, this is not a secret: Insurance providers clearly specify what’s excluded in the Policy Wording. But without a specialist in your corner, it’s also easy to fall for the low price tag and overlook the long-term consequences. As a result, you might end up taking out sub-standard cover that, come claim time, doesn’t deliver on what was expected.

That’s why we’re here

As we said, understanding the fine print is important, especially when you’re exploring your options and comparing products. We know the ins and outs of Insurance policies and can talk you through how these details impact you.

In a nutshell, choosing the right Insurance is an important decision: it’s about peace of mind and certainty of claim. Therefore, it’s a good idea not to rush it. Take the time to think about your needs and ask for assistance: our job is to talk you through your circumstances and help you find the right fit for them.

An Adviser Disclosure Statement is available free and upon request.

Four common Insurance mistakes

With so many details to pull together, Insurance can be a complicated topic – especially if you’re not familiar with the jargon. Less than 10% of Insurance claims are not paid, and in most cases it is because of an avoidable mistake.

In this guide, we take a good look at the most common ‘insurance mistakes’, and how we can help you avoid them.

Unwitting non-disclosure

Insurance providers are fans of forms: that’s a given. And there’s a reason why Insurance applications come with so many questions: it’s a process called ‘underwriting’.

To determine your premium rates and policy conditions, the Insurance provider needs to gather all relevant information about you, including any past medical conditions and habits you may have (e.g. smoking). But what if your memory fails you when you’re filling in the forms?

Without guidance, it can be easy to overlook details that seem insignificant or simply forget about them, but it’s important to note that unintentional non-disclosure or misrepresentation could result in a future claim being rejected and even your policy being cancelled.

As your adviser, we can help you avoid unwitting non-disclosure – by asking the right questions and answering all of your queries.

The one thing that can jeopardise your claim

Once again, when it’s time to claim, being truthful is always a good idea. This includes providing the correct information – nothing more and nothing less than this.

Things like adding non-existent items to a Contents Insurance claim or falsifying receipts, for example, cannot just lead to a claim denial. They may put your future insurability at risk and even result in prosecution.

So please don’t hesitate to contact us: we can help you ensure that your claim is filed correctly, and do everything we can to ensure that the payout is fair, reasonable and quick.

Not reading the small print

Are you sure that you know what your Insurance does and does not cover?

Time spent reading the small print can be tedious, and it often creates more questions than answers. It’s one thing to identify all inclusions and exclusions; it’s another thing understanding their implications.

Needless to say, we know the ins and outs of your cover. Have any questions for us? Please feel free to get in touch.

Missing premium payments

Keeping up with your premium payments is also crucial. If you fail to pay for a certain amount of time, your policy could lapse, leaving you uncovered and unable to make a claim.

If it was an oversight, consider setting up direct debit: it will take care of it for you. But if – for any reasons – you’re finding it hard to meet your premium payments, please let us know as soon as you can. Working closely with your Insurance provider, we may find ways to help you manage your premiums without losing cover.
As you can see, there are a number of important things to consider. So reach out to us whenever you need assistance: we’re in your corner to make your Insurance journey as simple and smooth as possible, helping you avoid all the bumps in the road.

An Adviser Disclosure Statement is available free and upon request.

Why should 20-year-olds consider Insurance?

Your 20s are a decade of ‘rinse, wash and repeat’ transformation. A new job, your own car, a roof over your head, increasing everyday expenses, and maybe a young family to take care of – you may feel that your life is going from zero to 60 in the blink of an eye.

With all these changes happening at once, now might be a good time to ask yourself, “Do I need Insurance?” Here are some important things to consider.

You are worth protecting

If you own a car, you may be familiar with Car Insurance and House & Contents Insurance. But while protecting your home and vehicle obviously makes sense, there’s another important asset you should keep front and centre – and that’s yourself.

Regardless of your age, everyone’s situation is different. Having said that, let’s take a good look at some of the Insurance types relevant to your stage of life.

—Health Insurance

Value-for-money is a key element here, because the younger and healthier you are, the lower your Health Insurance premiums will be. Plus, if you take out Health Insurance in your 20s, you’d be less likely to have developed pre-existing medical conditions that might affect your insurability down the line.

—Income Protection and Trauma Insurance

Are you relying on your income to live and meet your financial commitments? Do you have people depending on you financially? You may want to consider Income Protection or Trauma Insurance. Both are designed to protect you financially if you’re sick or severely injured, but they also provide different types of cover: we can walk you through their features and help you assess which is right for you.

—Life Insurance

Thinking about dying may be uncomfortable, but a little preparation goes a long way towards providing peace of mind for yourself and the people you love.

Life Insurance can be a good idea, even at a young age, if:

  • You have debt – Do you have credit card debts, personal loans or a mortgage? Life Insurance will help you and your loved ones (parents or partner) cover outstanding costs should the unexpected happen.
  • Have people depending on you financially – Are you married or in a partnership? Do you have any young children? How would they cope with you no longer being around? Not getting to share the life you planned together is unthinkable, but ensuring that you’re prepared for the ‘worst case scenarios’ can give you the peace of mind you deserve.
  • You are young and healthy – Even if you don’t have financial dependants, the best time to get coverage could still be now. Just like Health Insurance, Insurance can be a lot cheaper when you’re young and healthy. What’s more, if you choose level-premium Insurance now, you can lock in those low rates for life: you’ll pay a little more today but your premiums won’t increase with age.

 

Why having an Insurance Adviser makes sense

We’re fans of young Kiwis being proactive about their financial life, and welcome you to take a look at what’s available. It’s good to research online, but remember, securing Insurance online can come with pitfalls. For example, it might be easy to get lost in the details and forget to disclose important information.

As your Insurance Adviser, we can help you secure and maintain the right level of the right cover. Plus, you can count on us to be in your corner at claim time, to make sure that you receive your payout as quickly as possible.

An Adviser Disclosure Statement is available free and upon request. 

Don’t set and forget – squeeze your insurance for all it’s worth

Making your insurance work for you isn’t just about signing on the dotted line. It can be all too easy to ‘set-and-forget’ your insurance unless something happens and you need to claim. But if there is one thing you take out of this quick read, let it be this: make your insurances part of a regular ‘financial health check’.

Understand your policy (really understand it)

The ‘set-and-forget’ approach to insurance (which is, by the way, completely understandable), has a couple of key downsides. First, it can mean that you forget about certain benefits of your policy and potentially miss out on a valid claim. And second, without reviewing your cover on a regular basis as your life and situation change, you can unwittingly expose yourself to the risk of being under-insured or having an outdated policy.

The good news is that with us in your corner you don’t need to wade through policy wording for a refresher on the benefits your insurance offers (and what you can claim on). All you have to do is pick up the phone or send us an email and we’ll happily talk through the detail with you. And of course, we’ll remind you when it’s time to check-in on whether your insurance needs a tweak or two, which brings us to the next point…

Make the most of the review process

As you know, your insurance policy renews annually. A year may not seem like a long time, but when you sit down and talk through where you are at today, it can be amazing how much has changed. And it’s that change that we, as your adviser, need to know about so that we can assess whether your insurance is still in line with your life and needs. Think of it as an opportunity to take stock and move forward with confidence that you have the right protection in place (even if no change to your insurance is needed).

Put us to work at claim time

Perhaps an obvious one, but never hesitate to contact us if: (1) you want to know whether you can claim on your insurance, or (2) you know you can claim and need to lodge it with the insurer. We’ll help you understand what you can claim on, work through the claim documentation with you and facilitate the claim process with your insurer. As we said – put us to work at claim time; we’re in your corner.

We look forward to seeing you at your next insurance review. As always, if you have any queries in the meantime, we welcome you to get in touch.

An Adviser Disclosure Statement is available free and on request.