Posts Tagged ‘superannuation’

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

The benefits of consolidating your super

Friday, January 5th, 2018

If you’ve had a few jobs over the years, it’s possible that you’ve got a few different super funds with small balances in each. It’s easy to forget all about them until the annual statements arrive, but the sudden influx of paperwork can often leave you feeling dazed and confused.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission reports that there are billions of dollars sitting in unclaimed or “lost” superannuation accounts as at 1 January 2017, with thousands more accounts added to the list each month. Inactive accounts with balances of less than $6,000 are transferred to the ATO, so if you think you might have some old superannuation accounts, don’t hand it over the government, claim it!

This year, instead of ‘filing’ your statements in the bottom drawer and forgetting all about it until next year, take the plunge and consider consolidating your accounts. That way, you’ll be saving fees, reducing your paperwork, and making it easier to keep track of arguably one of the most valuable investments you’ll ever make – your retirement savings.

Here’s a few steps to get you on your way:

Choose your fund – talk to us so we can sit down and help you decide which super fund is best for you.

Check your insurance – before you start closing your accounts, we can help you make sure your insurance needs are covered in your chosen fund.

Advise your employer – make sure your employer knows where to pay your super guarantee contributions – speak to your payroll or HR about any paperwork they may need from you or your fund.

Rollover your other accounts to your chosen fund – you can do this online through the myGov website, or you can transfer your super by using a form and sending it to your chosen fund. Some funds have an online process for combining your super too, so it’s a good idea to check what’s going to be easiest.

Visit the SuperSeeker service at www.ato.gov.au or via your MyGov account at www.my.gov.au for more info.

As always, we’re here to help, you so if you’d like to talk this though, give us a call. We would love the opportunity to assist you in your journey to a better financial future.

Article by TAL

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. 

Are you a Small Business owner? If so, are you SuperStream compliant?

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

hand holding bag of money

The SuperStream Data and Payment Standard introduces a streamlined method of sending payments and associated information electronically within the superannuation system.

The objective is to standardise the way employers pay super contributions so that information can be transmitted consistently across the super system – between employers, super funds, service providers and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). It allows employers to make all their super contributions in a single transaction, even if they’re going to multiple super funds.

If you or your clients are an employer with 19 or fewer employees the SuperStream standard must be met by 30 June 2016 (assuming the business is not already compliant).

The ATO has begun contacting businesses with 19 or fewer employees about SuperStream. You or your clients may receive a reminder email, SMS, or letter from the ATO about the importance of getting ready for SuperStream by the 30 June 2016 deadline.

Larger employers should have been using SuperStream since 31 October 2015.

The link to set up your account with the Superannuation Clearing house is:

https://www.ato.gov.au/business/super-for-employers/paying-super-contributions/small-business-superannuation-clearing-house/.

Excerpt from article published by AIA