Posts Tagged ‘insurance’

Insurance in super – is your cover adequate?

Friday, January 5th, 2018

If you’ve got super, you probably have some life insurance included. It’s an easy way to get a basic level of cover, but is it enough to give you and your family true peace of mind?

More than 70% of Australians hold life insurance policies, and more than 13.5 million separate policies, through their super funds.¹ Yet despite this, under-insurance remains a huge problem in Australia.

Rice Warner estimates that the median level of life cover in super meets only 60% of the basic needs for the average household, and less for families with children. The position is even worse where total and permanent disability (TPD) and income protection cover are concerned. The median level of cover in super will provide just 13% of TPD needs, and 17% of income protection needs.

Of course, some insurance is better than no insurance, and insurance in super is convenient to set up and pay for. But it comes with a couple of points to be aware of, and this is where professional advice is invaluable.

Limited cover

Firstly, a portion of your super is used to pay the insurance premium. This can help your cash flow if money is tight, but it also means you may not be contributing as much to your retirement savings as you thought.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that super funds offer standardised ‘off the shelf’ policies that may not suit your needs. This helps keep costs down, but that’s no consolation if your policy falls short when you need it most.

Because the insurer pays your super fund which then pays you, it may take longer to receive the money. What’s more, unless you make a binding nomination, the fund trustees have the ultimate say in who receives benefits when you die. Your beneficiaries may also be taxed more heavily than they would if you held the insurance outside super.

A tailored solution

Your insurance needs are as individual as you are, and should be reviewed regularly along with your other financial affairs. Whenever your circumstances change – if you marry, have a child, or buy a new home for instance – your life insurance should be reviewed.

It’s easy to underestimate what it would cost to ensure your family is able to maintain their current lifestyle, come what may. It’s important not to forget partners who don’t earn an income and may not necessarily have cover in their super, particularly where dependent children are involved.

Take the example of Mark, whose wife Suzy, 43, passed away suddenly after an illness. Thankfully, the couple had arranged a full suite of insurance cover in and outside their super. Mark claimed on Suzy’s life insurance which covered his mortgage, credit card and car loan repayments; it also allowed him to hire a part-time nanny to help with their two children.

Getting additional insurance outside super can be a little more expensive, but you will have access to a wider range of policies that can be tailored to your individual needs. Some policies, such as Trauma insurance, can only be bought outside super.

Even if you have some level of cover inside super, it’s important to do your sums to work out exactly how much your family would need to maintain your current lifestyle if you or your partner were to die or become seriously ill. It may take a little time, but with so much at stake, guesstimates won’t do, and we would be only too happy to assist. 

¹ Ricewarner, Insurance through superannuation, 20 April 2016.

Article by TAL

Protecting the life (and people) you love

Monday, March 13th, 2017

With more Australians having children later in life, starting a second family and carrying significant levels of debt well into their 50s and 60s, life insurance has never been more important.

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns and you never quite know what is around the corner. Protecting your family against the loss of all the things you have worked hard for over the years is the cornerstone of a sensible strategy to defend your wealth and current lifestyle.

Although most people know this, being ‘underinsured’ – or holding insufficient life-related insurance cover – remains common across all age groups in Australia.

The underinsurance problem

Australians are famous for their laidback attitude and, unfortunately, that attitude often extends to taking out life insurance protection for their families. While research shows more than three-quarters of us understand the need for life related insurance, rating it as important or very important, only 52 per cent of those surveyed said they actually held some form of life insurance.i

Consulting firm Rice Warner has calculated that Australians should hold a total of $4,581 billion in life insurance to be considered adequately protected, but the actual figure held is only $1,811 billion.ii

Although the typical middle-income Australian family with two children needs an estimated $680,000 in life insurance cover to be considered adequately protected, Rice Warner found that the median level of life insurance held by these families is only $258,000.

Paying your bills and protecting your dreams

Without adequate life insurance protection, the financial burden arising from a serious illness, accident or death can cause severe financial hardship.

Such an event is not uncommon, with the Lifewise/NATSEM Underinsurance Report noting 18 families in Australia lose a working parent every day of the week. One in five families is affected by the death of a parent, a serious accident or an illness that renders a parent unable to work.iii

Increases in the number of second and blended families and ageing parents also mean many breadwinners now have more people than ever relying on them financially.

Life insurance protection is also essential for singles, as they often have fewer resources to fall back on to pay their debts and ongoing commitments such as rent and mortgage repayments if they become seriously ill or disabled.

Guarding your wealth

When it comes to developing a comprehensive strategy to protect your financial position, life insurance is a key component as it creates a safety net to protect your current lifestyle and the wealth you have accumulated.

Without adequate insurance protection, many families find themselves facing real financial hardship if the main or secondary income-earner, or the primary carer of the children, becomes sick or dies.

It’s important to look at your options in terms of life-related insurance as part of your financial goal setting. These products provide a highly effective way of protecting assets such as the family home, covering commitments such as credit card debts, paying large medical bills and avoiding being forced to sell off investments assets cheaply.

Life insurance benefits can be used in different ways depending on your personal circumstances and health, with the lump sum payment they provide easing the financial burden during what can be a very difficult time.

A tailored approach

For a complete wealth protection strategy, death cover is usually combined with other life-related insurance products such as critical illness and total and permanent disability (TPD) protection.

  • Life insurance pays a lump sum on your death or diagnosis of a terminal illness, 
  • Critical illness (or trauma) cover pays an agreed amount if you are diagnosed with a specified critical illness, such as cancer or heart disease,
  • TPD insurance provides you with a tax-free lump sum if you are permanently unable to work due to accident or illness.
    These life-related insurances are designed to provide protection against the most common adverse life events and provide you with peace of mind so that if the unexpected happens, you and your loved ones have some protection.

If you would like some advice on the right mix and amount of life insurance for your family and financial circumstances, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

i www.tal.com.au/about-us/media-centre/life-insurance-lacking-in-those-with-most-to-lose

ii http://ricewarner.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/INFOGRAPHIC-UnderinsuranceinAus2014.jpg

iii www.lifewise.org.au/downloads/file/aboutthelifewisecampaign/2010_0203_LifewiseNATSEMSummaryA4FINAL.pdf

General Advice Warning This information is of a general nature only and neither represents nor is intended to be specific advice on any particular matter. Michael J Berinson Pty Ltd strongly suggests that no person should act specifically on the basis of the information contained herein but should seek appropriate professional advice based upon their own personal circumstances. Although we consider the sources for this material reliable, no warranty is given and no liability is accepted for any statement or opinion or for any error or omission.

Getting By If Your Income Stops

Monday, January 9th, 2017

getting-by-if-your-income-stops

Ask yourself this. Would you still be able to pay for your everyday living expenses if you weren’t able to work? A serious injury or illness could put you out of work for months. If you don’t have any other way of earning an income, this could put you and your family under a lot of financial stress.

Your salary may stop but the bills won’t

Without a salary, you may not be able to stay on top of everyday living expenses like mortgage or rental payments, groceries, electricity and petrol.

Not having enough money to pay your bills places an enormous amount of stress on you and your family. Without any other way of earning an income, you may need to fall back on government benefits through Centrelink. While this may provide just enough to get you by, your financial situation will be very strained. And financial pressures are the last thing you need, when you’re trying to recover from an injury or illness.

Protect your income

You can avoid the risk of not having enough money to live on, by having income insurance, also known as income protection. This insurance, replaces your income for a certain period, if you can’t work due to temporary disability or illness.

You may be able to receive up to 75% of your taxable income, plus the 9% superannuation guarantee. This benefit will continue to be paid, until your benefit period expires, or you are able to return to work.

Tax benefits

Income protection insurance premiums are usually 100% tax deductible. This means that if your marginal tax rate is 30%, your overall income will reduce by $31.50, for every $100 that you pay in premium.

For peace of mind, why not book a time to come in and have an obligation free discussion with Michael. This will cost you nothing to start with, as your first meeting with us is absolutely free. 

Protecting Your Family Through Your Super

Monday, January 9th, 2017

protecting-your-family-through-your-super_1

If you are looking for a way to protect your family without breaking the budget, life insurance through super could be a good place to start.

When you’re already inundated with bills and expenses, taking out life insurance might seem like an unnecessary luxury. But there is a way you may be able to give your family vital protection, without dipping into the household budget, and that’s by taking advantage of insurance through superannuation.

If you’re an employee, you probably have some automatic death and total and permanent disability (TPD) cover in your superannuation already.

The benefit of this arrangement, is that it allows you to use your pre-tax income (e.g. your employer’s Superannuation Guarantee contributions) to pay your premiums. It’s also easy, as your insurance premiums can just be deducted from your super, rather than having to come out of your household budget.

The problem with having this automatic protection is that it can lull people into a false sense of security. The insurance that is provided by employers, is generally a minimum level of cover based on your age and/or income. It doesn’t take into account things like your debts levels and dependents – which are two of the main reasons this cover is required.

Do you need to increase your level of cover?

If you have a mortgage and/or dependent children, you may need to increase your level of death and TPD cover in super to clear your debts ,and provide an adequate level of ongoing income for your family.

There are also types of insurance that generally are not available in super, or may not be provided automatically, so relying solely on cover inside super could mean you’re missing out on the important protection those policies provide.

Trauma insurance is one type of cover not generally available inside super. It is designed to pay you a benefit, if you are diagnosed with a serious illness like cancer – with the money often used to pay out-of-pocket medical expenses, and possibly help a spouse take time off work to provide care.

Income protection is another common example. This is a type of policy that typically replaces up to 75% of your income if you can’t work due to sickness or injury. And while some employers offer income protection (or ‘group salary continuance’ insurance) to their employees in super, it often isn’t provided automatically.

Know where you stand

With something as important as your family’s lifestyle at stake, you need to be aware of exactly what you are covered for – taking into account any life insurance policies you already hold inside or outside super.

Most importantly, you need to think about how your insurance would be used if you became seriously ill, or were unable to provide for your family. That includes ensuring your benefit can be passed on to your family in the most tax-effective way.

To find out if you could be using your super to protect your family more cost-effectively, speak to us. It’s easy, as your first meeting with Michael is absolutely free.

Make your super last

Friday, November 18th, 2016

3d-person-getting-it-right

Australians enjoy one of the highest life expectancies in the world, which means you can look forward to a long and healthy retirement. Here’s how to make sure your super lasts.

Did you know that Australia is now one of just four countries in the world where both men and women can expect to live into their eighties?¹ While that’s fantastic news, it also makes saving for retirement more important than ever.

Almost half of Australians over age 40 are worried about outliving their retirement savings, while many are confused about the best way to achieve the retirement lifestyle they dream of.² But by getting good advice and planning ahead now, you can take control and enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing your future may be secure.

Work out how much you need

The first step is to figure out how much income you want to receive each year in retirement, and how much you may need to save in order to get there.

Plan for different stages of retirement

It’s also important to think about how your spending patterns may change during your retirement, to plan ahead accordingly.

For example, in the early stages when you’re at your most active, you’re likely to need more funds for travel, sports and recreation. Then, as you enter a more relaxed phase of retirement, you’ll need to be ready for possible health issues, so you can afford the care you need as medical treatments are becoming more sophisticated and more expensive every year.

When you crunch the numbers, you may find you’re facing a super gap. An effective way to grow your super savings while potentially paying less tax may be via salary sacrifice.

You may also want to keep your options open for the later years when you may need more intensive health support, including specialised accommodation.

Also don’t forget to factor in lump sum spending on big ticket items, such as home renovations or a new car. Because, as retirements grow longer, our cars and appliances are increasingly likely to fade away before we do.

Boost your super

When you crunch the numbers, you may find you’re facing a super gap. An effective way to grow your super savings while potentially paying less tax may be via salary sacrifice.

Even a small contribution can make a big difference over time, as you earn returns on your contributions. When you invest pre-tax income through salary sacrifice, you may also benefit from the 15% concessional tax rate on super contributions, putting you even further ahead.

Currently you can contribute $30,000 a year up to the age of 50 in concessionally taxed super contributions (which include employer super guarantee contributions), or $35,000 if you’re aged 50 or over. Note – changes to super come into effect in 2017.

Finally, if there is a large sum you will like to contribute to super, you will need advice as there have been dramatic changes to how contributions are made.

Review your investment option

Our super is one of our most valuable assets, so it’s not surprising many of us seek to protect it by investing in a low risk option. But it’s also important to remember that trying too hard to avoid risk today could expose you to a greater risk — running out of money tomorrow, when your savings don’t produce the returns you need for a comfortable retirement. So it’s important to choose the right investment option for your goals and investment time-frame.

That’s where personalised advice from a professional adviser can make a difference. Your adviser can help you calculate how much super you’ll need, then find the best strategy to reach your goal. Talk to your adviser today, call our office to book a meeting.

¹Australian Bureau of Statistics, Aussie men now expected to live past 80, 2014.
² Investment Trends, Retirement Income Report, December 2013.
Article by Colonial First State

Protecting Your Family Through Your Super

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

shutterstock_96964106

When you’re already inundated with bills and expenses, taking out life insurance might seem like an unnecessary luxury. But there is a way you may be able to give your family vital protection without dipping into the household budget, and that’s by taking advantage of insurance through superannuation.

If you’re an employee, you probably have some automatic death and total and permanent disability (TPD) cover in your superannuation already.

The benefit of this arrangement is that it allows you to use your pre-tax income (e.g. your employer’s Superannuation Guarantee contributions) to pay your premiums. It’s also easy, as your insurance premiums can just be deducted from your super, rather than having to come out of your household budget.

The problem with having this automatic protection is that it can lull people into a false sense of security. The insurance that is provided by employers is generally a minimum level of cover based on your age and/or income. It doesn’t take into account things like your debts levels and dependents – which are two of the main reasons this cover is required.

Do you need to increase your level of cover?

If you have a mortgage and/or dependent children, you may need to increase your level of death and TPD cover in super to clear your debts and provide an adequate level of ongoing income for your family.

There are also types of insurance that generally are not available in super, or may not be provided automatically, so relying solely on cover inside super could mean you’re missing out on the important protection those policies provide.

Trauma insurance is one type of cover not generally available inside super. It is designed to pay you a benefit if you are diagnosed with a serious illness like cancer – with the money often used to pay out-of-pocket medical expenses and possibly help a spouse take time off work to provide care.

Income protection is another common example. This is a type of policy that typically replaces up to 75% of your income if you can’t work due to sickness or injury. And while some employers offer income protection (or ‘group salary continuance’ insurance) to their employees in super, it often isn’t provided automatically.

Know where you stand

With something as important as your family’s lifestyle at stake, you need to be aware of exactly what you are covered for – taking into account any life insurance policies you already hold inside or outside super.

Most importantly, you need to think about how your insurance would be used if you became seriously ill or were unable to provide for your family. That includes ensuring your benefit can be passed on to your family in the most tax-effective way.

To find out if you could be using your super to protect your family more cost-effectively, speak to us. We would love to have the opportunity to assist more people to achieve their financial goals, have peace of mind and still maintain the Lifestyle they enjoy along the way. Come in and have a cup of coffee with Michael and see how he can best assist you – no cost at all for your initial meeting. 

Earning A High Income Won’t Automatically Make You Wealthy

Monday, September 5th, 2016

business-growth-success-financial-graph-1912306

When you earn enough money to pay for everything you need there’s no reason to save regularly, right? Wrong. There’s far more to becoming wealthy than earning a high income as suggested in the well-known proverb ‘The art is not in making money, but in keeping it’.

High income earners can make the worst savers

It’s an unfortunate fact of life nowadays that the more you earn, the more you tend to spend. Today, there is so much pressure to spend money on the latest gadgets, prestigious fashion labels and having a picture postcard home. We’re living in a spending culture where the next best thing is always just around the corner.

When you earn a higher than average income it’s easy to justify upgrading your lifestyle here and treating yourself a little bit there. After all, you’ve worked hard to earn that income and you want to get some enjoyment out of it.

And even if you don’t think of yourself as the type of person who is careless with their money, there may be other factors at work. Behavioural scientists have shown that it’s human nature to seek instant gratification. We’re much more likely to do something that makes us feel good now, like spoiling our loved ones with lavish gifts, than doing something that’s better for us in the long term, like saving some of our money.

You reap what you sow

You may be able afford a high standard of living now but could this lifestyle be maintained if you stopped working?
To get the full benefit of your income you need to cap your spending and get into the habit of putting away part of what you earn every week or month. This way your money can start working for you.

There are many benefits of having spare cash around:

You will have money set aside for any small emergencies so you don’t have to worry about how you will cope if something goes wrong

You will be able buy things with cash rather than credit cards. Many retailers offer discounts for paying with cash. And you’ll be saving money because you won’t be paying interest on credit card purchases.

Importantly you will have spare money for investing which will help you grow and protect your wealth over the long term.

The more you save, the more you will earn

Regular investing also gives you the chance to boost your savings by taking advantage of compound interest. Compounding, or earning interest on your interest can make a significant difference to the value of your savings or investments over time. The longer you save, the greater the effect of compounding.

Let’s look at a simple example that shows the power of compound interest. Say you had savings of $20,000 and each month you put away $500. In just 10 years that $20,000 would have grown to $110,074, assuming the interest rate on your bank account was 5%. Of that, $30,074 would be the compound interest that you’ve earned along the way.

Spend wisely and enjoy the benefits of saving

Starting a savings plan is one of the simplest and easiest ways to save money. Your savings are kept in a separate account to your everyday spending account, so you won’t be able to spend this money as part of your weekly expenses. It will also attract a higher rate of interest, which if left to accrue in the account, will help you get your goal of wealth creation underway.

Article prepared by Infocus Wealth Management

PROTECTING YOUR FAMILY

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

3d-person-getting-it-right-

INSURANCE

If you are suddenly diagnosed with a major illness or experience a death in the family there is very little time to plan how the family will cope financially.

You might be thinking insurance is something you can sort out later but research shows that 1-in-5 Australian families will be impacted by the death of a parent, a serious accident or an illness such as cancer that leaves a parent unable to work during their working life. Yet 95 per cent of families do not have adequate levels of life insurance * There are things you can do to ensure that you and your family are covered.

UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENT COVER TYPES

Unlike general insurance which covers assets such as your car and your home, life insurance can protect the financial contribution you make to your family.

There are different types of life insurance that generally cover different life events:

  • Life cover provides security for your family’s future by paying a benefit if you die or are diagnosed with a terminal illness.
  • Income protection can help replace a part of your income (for a set period of time) which can be used to cover living expenses if you are unable to work due to illness or injury.
  • Total and permanent disability (TPD) cover can provide financial support if illness or injury stops you from returning to work or normal domestic duties.
  •  Trauma cover allows you to protect yourself against the financial impacts of being diagnosed with one of a number of serious medical conditions, such as cancer or a heart attack, by paying a benefit.

In practice, you may need a combination of these products depending on your family’s needs and existing financial resources.

PLAN AHEAD

The best way to plan for your family’s future financial security is to ask ‘what if ?’. What if one parent died or was unable to work due to an accident, illness or permanent disability? With the loss of an income you and your family could struggle to meet their daily expenses and ongoing financial commitments.

While families with children have an added incentive to have adequate life insurance cover, young couples and singles may also need protection. What if you become critically ill and need to take time off work? Do you have enough sick leave to cover the rent or mortgage and other living expenses?

Once you have a clearer idea of the amount of money you would need to preserve your family’s current lifestyle, it’s easier to work out the right level of cover for your circumstances.

Life insurance and income protection insurance allows you to approach the future with confidence, knowing that the life you’ve built is protected.

As a financial adviser, I can help you determine the types and level of cover that you need to ensure so you protect your most valuable asset – you. Call me on 0893492700, and we can discuss this further.

Lifewise/NATSEM Underinsurance Report – Understanding the social and economic costs of underinsurance, Feb 2010