How super is your life insurance?
Written on the 3 September 2019 by Arrow
For most people, life insurance provides a safety net against unexpected events. This is particularly the case if you have a mortgage, debts or family who are dependent on you earning an income.
In many cases, life insurance has been automatically offered through superannuation. Although 85 per cent of people hold life insurance this way, a recent survey found one third of them don't even realise.i
Now some super members may have lost their insurance cover and may not be aware of it.
Millions could lose cover
As a result, from July 1 this year your insurance cover is to be cancelled, if your fund has been inactive for more than 16 months.ii
Letters were sent towards the end of the financial year to those with inactive funds, advising you to contact your fund to make a contribution or risk losing your life cover.If you didn't respond, your life insurance policy may have been cancelled.
It's estimated that up to 3 million super members may have been affected.iii And while you can buy a new life insurance policy, you may not be able to reactivate your previous one unless your fund offered an extension of the deadline to reactivate cover. If not, you may have to face a medical examination and/or pay higher premiums in order to take out a new policy.
Younger members to opt-in
The argument in favour of this move is that young people with no responsibilities, have nothing to insure. But once you buy a home, get married or become a parent, the need for life insurance becomes paramount.
As you get older, once the family has flown the nest and you have paid off all your debts, the need for life insurance may reduce. However, with a blended family, a life insurance policy in super can prove a good financial strategy to ensure the right beneficiaries receive your money. That's because superannuation 'death benefits' don't form part of your Will but are paid out separately to your nominated beneficiaries.
SMSFs may also be caught out
The beauty of having life insurance in super is that the premiums are generally cheaper because you are charged at a group rate. In addition, it won't affect your cashflow as premiums come out of your super. Of course, that is the point of this legislation. The monies available for investment to build your balance for retirement may be eroded through those very premiums.
Another precautionary note is that it may be harder to access a payout through super if you need to make a claim. If you haven't correctly nominated a beneficiary in your super, then it is the trustees who decide who receives the payout. And because the insurer makes the payment via the fund, this can also take longer.iv
What happens next?
If this happens, investment returns on the money held by the ATO may be significantly less than if you invested through your super.v
Don't wait until you need to make a claim to discover you don't have any insurance cover after all. If you have any questions about the changes or your insurance needs in general, give us a call.