The Weekly Advertiser Horsham

What does it all mean?

- With Robert Goudie CFP Dip FP Consortium Private Wealth

Personal insurances are designed to provide protection from the financial consequenc­es of death or disability. They therefore form an important part of most financial plans. Here, in brief, is how they work.

What are the different types?

• Life insurance: This pays a lump-sum benefit if you die. • Total and permanent disability insurance, TPD: This pays a lump-sum benefit if you meet the definition of being totally and permanentl­y disabled. It is often bundled with life insurance. • Trauma insurance: Also referred to as recovery insurance, trauma insurance pays a lump-sum benefit if you are diagnosed with or suffer from one of the specified illnesses, such as cancer, heart attack or stroke. • Income-protection insurance: If you are unable to work due to illness or injury, income-protection insurance will pay you a regular income, usually capped at 75 percent of your pre-illness income. You can select the waiting period before benefits become payable and the length of the benefit period.

How much should I have?

For life and TPD cover, one rule of thumb is to work out how much is needed to pay off debts and provide for current and future family living expenses.

Subtract from this total the value of current investment­s, including superannua­tion, to arrive at an approximat­e value of the insurance cover you require.

Of course, individual circumstan­ces vary widely. Your financial adviser will be able to help you assess your needs and resources and perform the relevant calculatio­ns for you.

How often should I review?

Your personal insurances should be reviewed whenever there is a major change in your personal situation. Key events to look out for include: • Taking out a home loan. • Getting married or setting up house with someone. • Starting a family. • Receiving an inheritanc­e. • Retirement.

Generally, as savings increase and debts decrease, the level of cover required reduces over time, but again, much depends on your individual situation.

How do I understand?

It’s important to understand what is and is not covered by your insurance. This will be detailed in the product disclosure statement, so it is important to read and understand this. If you are unsure about anything, ask your adviser for an explanatio­n.

How do I choose?

While pure life insurance is pretty straightfo­rward, the other personal insurances might differ significan­tly from policy to policy. Definition­s of diseases might vary. There might be a range of optional extras – some valuable, others more of a gimmick.

With TPD insurance, you might have the choice of ‘own occupation’ or ‘any occupation’.

Insurance companies vary in the speed with which they process claims, and beyond that is the question of which insurances should be held via a superannua­tion fund and which should be held directly.

All this complexity means that selecting the best insurance cover is best done with the help of an experience­d financial planner.

More than one third of Australian families have no life insurance cover. Many more are under-insured, even though the financial impact of not being adequately insured can be severe.

Put your mind at rest. If you have any concerns about the level of protection provided by your personal insurance policies talk to your adviser today. • The informatio­n provided in this article is general in nature only and does not constitute personal financial advice.

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