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Archives for Amy Gill

Insurance Is Not A Dirty Word

Let’s be honest, have you ever cringed when you hear the word insurance? I’m not specifically talking about life insurance, I mean all insurances. This includes home and contents, motor vehicle, health, life, public liability; they all get wrapped up into one ugly, frustrating ball of confusion. In addition to this, we have the all-encompassing doubt that if we go through the process of applying for cover, are the insurance companies even going to pay out?

In October 2016, ASIC was tasked in developing a report following the scandals involving life insurance companies not paying claims. The result of this report uncovered a number of interesting findings. Some of you may be shocked to know that out of the total 11 insurers investigated, only an average of 7% of claims were declined and an average 76% were approved in full.

The statistic that I found most interesting was the rate at which claims were being declined on policies with no adviser linked. A staggering 12% of non-adviser claims were declined compared to only 7% of claims held with an adviser.

During my short time as an adviser, I have assisted a number of my clients through claims, all of which have been successful. I’m not going to deny that the claims process can be tedious and sometimes drawn out, but can you imagine going through this all by yourself?

The role of a Risk Adviser is among other things, to assist a client through one of their most harrowing times to ensure the cover you’ve funded is paid to you in your time of need. We are there to take away the burden and stress of speaking with claims assessors and insurance companies so you can focus on taking care of yourself and your family.

So if you’ve been considering life insurance but haven’t yet made the right moves or don’t know where to start, contact The Investment Collective and speak to one of our friendly specialist Risk Advisers.

Please note that this article provides general advice and has not taken your personal or financial circumstances into consideration. If you would like more tailored advice, please contact us today.

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Get Your Insurance Organised This EOFY!

End of financial year is fast upon us yet again. To make sure you’re ready and to maximise your tax savings, I’ve prepared some tips and tricks:

1. Reviewing your insurance coverage might save you $

We all know that our circumstances can change at the drop of the hat. Therefore, as our situation changes, so does our need for risk protection. If you’ve had your cover in place for some years and it’s been just as long since you’ve reviewed it, now’s the best time. Even if the amount of cover is still appropriate, you may want to modify the way in which you fund the premiums to make them more tax effective.

2. Bring forward your expenses

From a personal point of view, you might consider the option to pay a year ahead on your income protection policy. All income protection premiums paid by the individual are tax deductible at their highest marginal tax rate, this will mean a greater tax deduction at tax time.

From a business perspective, you may wish to do the same. However, the tax deductibility on certain policies such as Key Man and Buy/Sell will be determined whether the policy is meant for revenue or capital purposes. Speak to your Risk Adviser or Accountant to find out more.

3. Speak to an expert

As with anything not directly relating to your own field of work, we employ the services of specialists for certain tasks. I recommend you speak with your Financial Adviser, Risk Adviser and Accountant before making any changes to your current arrangements and to seek advice on how to maximise your tax savings this financial year.

Please note that the above is provided as general advice. If you would like more tailored advice regarding your insurance needs or in the lead up to the end of financial year, please contact us today. One of our advisers would be delighted to speak with you.

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International Women’s Day 2018

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #PressForProgress.  Now more than ever there is a strong call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.  Since the last International Women’s Day, we have seen movements like the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns which have been fuelled by women’s equality.  We know that gender equality won’t happen overnight, but the more people who can be involved in taking the stand, the sooner it will happen.

As a woman working in the financial services industry, I can clearly say that for many years it has been a man’s world.  However, according to the Australian Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency statistics from April 2016, there seems to have been a shift.  They are now recording in the financial and insurance services industry that the majority of part time and full time workers is held by women at 55% (read the fact sheet here).

I’d like to ask, where are all the ladies?  Every time I have been to an external seminar or function, it is obvious who the dominant gender is, and it’s certainly not mine.  However, here at The Investment Collective, out of our total 41 staff members, 27 of those are women, meaning we hold a 66% majority.  If we then drill down to the individual offices, women hold the majority in Rockhampton with a whopping 83%. Go girls! Our Melbourne office is a little under the majority at 41%.

Regardless of where you work, or what community you’re involved in, we can all play our part in gender equality.  For more information on International Women’s Day or to commit to a ‘gender parity mindset’ head to their website: www.internationalwomensday.com and #PressForProgress.

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Are You Under Insured?

Every so often we hear how Australians are under insured, and how income earners and their families experience financial hardship as a result of suffering from sickness, injury, long term disability or death. I’ve developed a quick guide to help you see if you’re at risk, and what you can do to rectify the problem.

1. Do you have insurance?

Recent statistics have shown that 83% of Australians say they have car insurance, and only 31% of those have income protection. Did you know that your income is your biggest asset?

For example, John is 35 years old, earning $80,000 per year and is married to Jane who is a stay at home mum. They have 2 young children, and have a $350,000 mortgage. Over a 15 year period (assuming a salary increase of 3.5% p.a.), John will have earnt over $1.5 million. Looking further in the future, by the time John looks to retire at age 65, he will have earned just over $4 million. How much is your car worth? How much is your house worth? Is it more than your accumulated income?

Many Australian’s don’t think twice about insuring their car or home, but struggle to see the importance of insuring themselves.

2. Where is your insurance held?

Is it held within superannuation, or is it personally owned? Many Australians have some form of insurance via their super fund, and may think that it is enough. But this is often not the case. Super funds offer various insurance benefits according to the fund design, and member eligibility criteria. The amount and type of insurance cover you have could be on a cost per unit basis, or a fixed amount depending on your age, occupation, etc. It is unlikely that the default cover offered via your super fund is appropriate for your specific circumstances.

You should be aware that there may be tax implications for holding insurance within your super fund.

Let’s go back to John. He holds $300,000 of Total & Permanent Disablement (TPD) cover inside his industry super fund, and goes to claim. Due to his age and other contributing factors, out of the total sum insured, he will need to pay almost $73,000 of tax. Leaving a payable amount of $227,000, this is not even enough to pay off his mortgage.

Another thing to keep in mind is that some super funds will decrease your insurance entitlement as you get older. So if you’re relying on the insurance in your super fund, it may not be enough to cover your needs.

3. How much is enough?

  • When calculating the required amount of Life and TPD insurance, there are a few things you will need to consider:
  • Repayment of debts
  • Funeral costs
  • A lump sum to allow for home and vehicle modifications
  • Future income expenditure. For example, costs of living, school fees, childcare, etc.
  • Allowances for tax implications

There are a number of ways to calculate your need for insurance. The best way, however, is to speak with one of our friendly Risk Advisors who can assist with some tailored recommendations.
If I were John’s adviser and he told me he didn’t have any life insurance, I would be asking him this one simple question: how will your family survive if you’re not around to provide?

Please note that the above has been provided as general advice, it has not taken into account your personal circumstances or goals. If you would like more tailored advice, please contact us today, one of our friendly advisers would love to speak with you.

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Beware of Holiday Accidents

As we head into the festive season, we must pause for thought for all of those who have tragically lost their lives or become seriously injured due to a horrific car accident. Did you know that on average, four people die and 90 are seriously injured on Australian roads every day! Those are some shocking statistics, and sadly the numbers aren’t decreasing. The three biggest contributors to these accidents are speeding, driver fatigue and alcohol and drugs.

Here are some tips to help reduce the likelihood of becoming another victim:

Speeding

We all know what we need to do here, slow down! By lowering your speed by 5km/h on urban roads or 10km/h on highways you will reduce your risk of an accident by half.

Driver fatigue

Ensure you stop every 2 hours for a rest. If you’re not in a location where you can stop for long, pull over to the side of the road and run a few laps around your car. This will get your blood pumping and your alertness up!

Try to avoid heavy meals while driving. Light snacks will keep your body satisfied while a large meal may have adverse effects on your driving ability.

Alcohol and drugs

Again, this one is very simple, don’t drink and drive. Don’t take drugs and drive. This has been pounded into us all since a very young age and yet, we are still having tragic losses because of people under the influence.

Unfortunately, all we can do is control our own actions and decisions, and not those of the other drivers on the road.

However, I do know for certain that every individual who passed away or became seriously injured, didn’t plan for their lives to change. These tragic events could happen to anyone, and it’s more than likely we know someone who has been affected by a road accident, I know I do.

Do yourself and your family a favour and contact us to make an appointment with one of our friendly Risk Advisers today. They will help to assess your need for life insurance and ensure your family is covered should something unexpected occurs.

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Should You Have Trauma Insurance?

Breast Cancer has maintained its deadly position as one of the top four estimated cancer deaths for 2017. It is predicted that an average of 48 people every day will be diagnosed with this horrible disease. With the average age of the first diagnosis is at 61 years*. Although 61 years is the average, there is commonly diagnosis at much earlier ages.

However, there is some good news at last! The survival rate for breast cancer has slowly been on the incline for the last few years. Recent statistics show the five-year relative survival rate has increased from 72% (between 1984-1988) to 90% (between 2009-2013)*. It is important to note that many people live a long and happy life beyond this as well.

I could go on and on about the statistics of getting breast cancer, treatment, survival rates etc. However, what you don’t see in any statistics or research is the impact a diagnosis will have on the loved ones connected to those with the deadly disease. As a Risk Insurance Adviser, I have witnessed firsthand the devastating toll it takes on loved ones not only emotionally, but also financially.

Thankfully, you can do something about it. By taking out trauma protection, you will receive a tax-free lump sum payout on the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Clients who receive the benefit may wish to use the money for a number of things, some include:

  • Paying for lumpy medical bills associated with treatment
  • Providing a lump sum to reduce level of debt
  • Living expenses so you and your spouse can take some time out of the workforce
  • Capital available to take a holiday or not return to work immediately – even if you are physically able

The last thing you want to think about while going through this trying time is money. Here at The Investment Collective, we have a dedicated Risk Insurance team to help you through every aspect of obtaining, maintaining and claiming your life insurance.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month I feel it’s imperative to remind everyone (yes, you too fellas!) the importance of self-examinations as early detection is important for full recovery. Everyone should be familiar with the size, shape, look and feel of their breasts and underarms so that if changes occur, you can be proactive and seek advice/treatment immediately.

You will commonly hear that someone ‘felt a lump’ which lead to their diagnosis. But, there are many other symptoms or warning signs to look out for, these include; irritation or dimpling of your breast skin, redness or flaky skin in your nipple area or breast, pulling in of your nipple or pain in your nipple area and many more. I would encourage everyone to become familiar with the early warning signs and to seek medical advice if they have any concerns.

Please note this is prepared as general advice. It has not taken into account your personal circumstances, your insurance needs or current coverage. If you would like to learn more about how the above advice can be customised to your personal situation, please contact one of our experienced and knowledgeable insurance advisers today.

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Spring Clean Your Life (Insurance)!

By now, we should all know the importance of life insurance and how it plays a vital part in our family’s lives. But what you may not know, is that it is not just a set and forget type of deal. Your need for insurance will drastically change throughout the course of your life.

The following events are ‘trigger events’ which will reveal the need to review different levels of personal cover:

  • New (or pending) dependants, including children, aged parents or disabled children;
  • Recently married, divorced or separated;
  • Partner not working (responsible for children);
  • New job, occupation or business situation, e.g. establishing a partnership or shareholding in a business;
  • Redundancy or salary increase;
  • Inheritance of a bequest;
  • New, or increased debt e.g. purchase of an investment property or obtaining a business loan;
  • Positive changes in your health, e.g. you may have quit smoking, lost weight or had a medical issue level out.

While it is vital to review the levels of cover, it is just as critical to review the product itself. Insurance companies often review and/or upgrade the benefits in their policies to provide superior products to their customers.  Some of these improvements may be attributed to advances in the medical field, for example, there may be changes in the way doctors diagnose a patient’s heart attack. Or the insurance companies added benefits to the policy, for example, 20 years ago, a typical trauma policy only insured for up to four major health events. Today, some contracts can provide benefits for upwards of 40-50 events, depending on the insurer.

You also want to ensure your policy is still competitively priced. Every year when the renewal letter shows up from the insurance company, no doubt we all wince at the increase in price. Sometimes we just bite the bullet and pay, other times we start to doubt the need of insurance and decide to cancel. Insurance companies know the strain of increasing premiums can have on families so they are starting to implement incentives which enable you to receive discounts. Some of these may be in the form of multi-policy discounts (for example, a husband and wife apply at the same time), multi-cover discounts (holding life, TPD, trauma and income protection), and health and wellness programs.

At The Investment Collective, we try to schedule annual reviews with our clients to ensure their risk protection strategy continues to meet their goals and objectives. If it’s been some time since your last review, or since your cover was put in place, please contact one of our specialised Risk Advisers.

The above advice has been provided as general advice only. It has not taken into account your personal insurance needs or current coverage. It has not considered your personal information in any regard. If you would like to learn more about how the above advice can be customised to your personal situation, please contact one of our experienced and knowledgeable insurance advisers today.

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What Types of Insurance Do You Need?

There have been a lot of questions from clients lately about why they need all the different types of personal risk insurance; Life, Total & Permanent Disability (TPD), Trauma and Income Protection.  Each insurance covers something different and it is important to understand how all of these insurances work together.  Below I’ve detailed a brief summary about the different types of insurance and how they work together.

Life

Life insurance is pretty straightforward.  A lump sum amount will be paid out in the event of death or terminal illness.  The purpose of life cover is to pay down any debts, provide an income to your surviving spouse or children, contribute to future education expenses if you have children, and assist with funeral expenses.

Total & Permanent Disability

Total and Permanent Disablement (TPD) is payable in the event you become totally and permanently incapacitated due to sickness or injury, and it is unlikely that you will ever be able to return to work.  Again, this cover will provide a lump sum to reduce or extinguish debts, and provide an income to you and your family.  It may also help with home and car modifications following your disability and can assist with ongoing medical bills.

Trauma

Trauma cover also pays a lump sum should you be diagnosed with a serious medical condition, or if you suffer from an event covered under the contract. Trauma insurance covers a wide range of conditions such as Heart attack, Heart surgery, Cancer, Stroke and other neurological conditions, organ failure and various blood disorders.  Benefits can assist with the costs of specialist treatment and medication which are not covered via Medicare or private health cover.  Trauma protection can help with every day costs of living, and offer support financially should you or your partner need to take time off work to assist in recovery.

It is important to note that some people who suffer from a trauma event return to work before they can claim on their Income Protection policy.  Due to advances in medical technology, and less invasive treatment for many of the diseases covered via a Trauma policy, there is also a reduced likelihood of becoming totally disabled and a much higher survival rate.

Income Protection

Income Protection (IP) covers you for partial or total disability based on a waiting period and a benefit period.  If you suffer an injury or illness that leaves you unable to work for longer than your waiting period, you will be eligible to claim on your policy.  Income Protection typically provides a monthly payment whilst you are unable to work.  Your claim will continue until you are able to return to work, or you have reached the end of your benefit period.  It is important you know what your waiting and benefit periods are. The maximum entitlement for IP insurance is 75% of your taxable income, and you may also be able to cover ongoing superannuation contributions under some contracts.

As always, if you have queries or concerns about your insurance you should speak with your friendly adviser. We are here to help.

Are you interested in getting your current insurance reviewed or wanting to get the right cover for you and your family? Contact us today for your free initial consultation, one of our friendly advisers would be delighted to speak with you.

Please note: The information provided in this article is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account any person’s Individual objectives, financial situation or needs.  Before acting on anything in this article you should consider if it is appropriate for you, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.

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What To Do About Insurance Claims

I’m looking to shed some light on insurance claims and hopefully shatter some illusions that insurance companies never pay claims.  We’ve all heard at least one horror story about an insurance company not paying a claim.  The most recent you may recall is the CommInsure scandal as reported by Four Corners in March 2016.  The story reported that claimants had suffered a trauma event, illness or injury and somehow did not meet the required definition to receive payment.

A recent independent study, across the main 13 insurance companies in 2015, shows they paid almost 90,000 claims totalling $6.9 billion.  These figures are up from 75,000 claims, totalling $4.9 billion in 2014.  This is a staggering increase in just one year, and it has been consistently rising in recent times.

Additionally, the insurance Big 5 stood up to their devastating reputation yet again in 2015 as leading causes for claims across all types of life insurance.  The Big 5 include: cancer, heart disease, mental health (e.g. stress, depression, anxiety), musculoskeletal (e.g. Osteoporosis, broken bones, torn ligaments) and neurological (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, dementia).

This year alone I have assisted with six new claims and one ongoing claim.  That’s one per month on average.  Six of these claims fell into the Big 5 category.  It’s so gratifying to know that these clients and their families are covered should the unexpected occur and their insurers have fulfilled their promises by paying the claims.

Something to contemplate when considering your own situation, how many of those 90,000 claimants do you think expected to claim?  How do you think their dependants would have fared if they didn’t receive the claim proceeds?  How will your dependants fare if you’re not insured?

To make sure you don’t become the next horror story, be sure to follow these three tips:

  1. Don’t give insurance companies a reason to not pay a claim – be truthful on your application form and disclose all pre-existing conditions.
  2. Consider taking out a level premium option – this means your premium will be the same price year-to-year, only increasing with CPI. By doing so, you will be able to hold the policy longer when your risk of claiming increases.
  3. Speak to an adviser – in most cases where an insurance company has not paid a claim the claimant has not had an adviser. An adviser will be able to assist you in making the right choices when considering life insurance.

If you or anyone you know have any questions regarding their own situation and are considering taking out or making changes to life insurance, please contact us know.  It would be unfortunate to see you make the same mistakes others have made before you.

Please note: The information provided in this article is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account any person’s individual objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on anything in this article you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.

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