Would you struggle if you had to take unexpected time off work? If the answer is yes, it might be worth considering income protection insurance. It could step in and replace your salary by up to 85% should you become sick or injured.
Each income protection policy will be slightly different, so one policy could have a longer benefit period while another pays a higher percentage of your income. The table below compares what's on offer from Finder partners.
Income protection insurance comparison for Australia
Get a quote for income protection insurance
The price of income protection insurance can vary depending on a number of factors, including how much you earn, the type of lifestyle you lead and how long you'd like to be covered for. Fill in your details below to get a good idea of how much income protection insurance is likely to cost you.
What is income protection insurance?
Income protection insurance is a financial safety net – it pays you a percentage of your wage, for a set period, if you're unable to work due to a sudden illness or injury.
So, if you're unlucky enough to have a serious car accident, and can't work for six months, you'd get regular payments from your insurer – meaning you could focus on getting better without falling behind on the mortgage.
For a monthly fee – usually around 1-2% of your salary – income protection insurance gives you peace of mind that you'll still be able to pay the bills if you become too sick or injured to work.
What does income protection insurance cover?
Basically, income protection insurance covers your wage, or a percentage of it. Imagine you're stuck in hospital for six months, or you're recovering from major surgery and can't work. Income protection insurance would ensure you still get regular payments, so you can keep up with everyday expenses without getting into unnecessary debt.
How much you get paid, and for how long, will vary depending on which insurance policy you choose. You could take out a policy which pays 85% of your wage for five years, or you could take out a policy which pays 50% of your wage for six months. Both have their benefits; it's about what's right for you.
You can spend the money however you like, as it's just a replacement for your normal wage, but it's designed so you can continue paying your bills, avoid the stress of debt and cover any medical costs that you may incur.
How to compare income protection
When looking for income protection insurance, there are a few important features that you should consider, and it's worth making sure you understand each one properly.
Maximum monthly benefit – Your monthly benefits are what you'll get from your insurer if you can't work, but insurance companies will put an upper limit on how much they'll pay out – this is your maximum monthly benefit.
Maximum percent of income covered – Income protection insurance policies won't cover the full amount of your wage. Instead, they'll promise to pay you a percentage of your normal salary. You can choose to pay higher premiums to cover a larger portion of your salary, or you can make your policy more affordable by covering a smaller portion.
Maximum benefit period – Unfortunately, income protection policies won't pay out forever. The maximum benefit period is the longest amount of time that you could potentially receive payments, if you were put out of work.
Waiting period options – If you take out income protection insurance today, but fall seriously sick tomorrow, your policy won't pay out. Every policy has a waiting period before it's valid. It could be as little as two weeks or up to three months, depending on your policy.
Age restrictions – Income protection policies will have a maximum entry age as well as an expiry age. The maximum entry age is the oldest you can possibly be when you first buy your policy. The expiry age is the age at which your policy will no longer pay out.
What types of income protection are available?
You can choose between two different types of income protection insurance: agreed value and indemnity value.
Cheaper and more common, indemnity value insurance doesn't necessarily guarantee you'll get the monthly payments you wanted when you bought your policy. If you make a claim, your insurance company will verify your income at that point in time – so if you've taken some time out, or the business you own has had a tough few months, you might not get exactly what you had in mind.
How much income protection do I need?
If you earn a six-figure salary, you'll be able to get more income protection insurance than if you earned $60,000. Use our income protection insurance calculator to find out how much you could get in monthly payments, if you were suddenly put out of work.
Answer a few questions to get an estimate on how much income protection you might need
Things you should know
This quiz is designed to help you decide what type of life insurance you may need, and how much cover you may wish to apply for. Please note that:
This quiz provides general advice and information. It is neither an endorsement of nor recommendation for, life insurance. Calculations are based on the assumption that all assets besides your house will be sold. We hope that it can help you make an informed decision, but it isn't a substitute for professional advice. If you're unsure about anything, seek professional advice before you apply for any product or commit to any plan.
This life insurance calculator assumes you will sell your house and assets in the event of death, disability or critical illness.
Calculations are based on limited information provided by your responses. It doesn't take into account special circumstances. For example, you might plan to have your family sell your house if you die but there's a good chance you'll want to hang on to it in the event of disability.
Life insurance calculators can't take these factors into account the same way an adviser can. An adviser can give you a better understanding of how your needs can be very different depending on your circumstances. While life insurance calculators are great for building up an idea of what you need, it's a good idea to seek professional advice for something as important as life insurance.
What isn't covered under income protection insurance?
Every income protection insurance policy will have its own exclusions, so it's really important that you read your product disclosure statement carefully. As an example, exclusions could be anything from certain diseases, such as cancer, to injuries sustained while you were taking part in a dangerous pastime, like snowboarding. Pre-existing conditions may also be ruled out.
There will also be time restrictions on your policy. Insurers will enforce a waiting period, so you'll only be able to claim if your illness or injury keeps you out of work for a certain length of time. Usually, the waiting period is somewhere between two weeks and three months.
Insurance companies will also enforce a maximum benefit period, so you'll only be able to claim payments for a certain length of time, usually between two years and five years.
Does income also include cover for redundancy?
Income protection insurance is designed to help if you're struck down by illness or injury, but they're not the only things that can put you out of work for a long time.
Redundancy is a very real fear for a lot of people and it can throw a serious spanner in the works if you don't have a big savings pot or can't find a new job fast.
Luckily, some insurance companies will give you the option to add redundancy cover to your income protection insurance. Of course, it'll come at an extra cost, but you'll have peace of mind that you won't be in a tight spot if you suddenly lose your job – as long as it's through no fault of your own.
Is the cover in my superannuation enough?
A lot of people choose to get income protection insurance through their super fund because it's a quick and easy option. However, there are a couple of drawbacks you should be aware of before deciding if this is right for you.
First off, income protection insurance won't be as comprehensive if you get it through your super fund, compared to buying a standalone policy.
Secondly, while funding income protection insurance through your super might not feel like it's costing you anything now, it definitely is in the long run. Without going into the nitty gritty, your super is a pretty safe yet savvy investment, so the more money you leave in the fund, the better.
Besides, income protection insurance is tax deductible anyway, so you can add it to your tax return when it comes around to July. Hooray!
Compare average Australian income protection quotes
The cost of income protection insurance will vary depending on a number of factors, including your income, your lifestyle, and how much you'd like to be covered for, but it's typically around 1-2% of your average salary.
To give you a rough idea of how much you can expect to pay, we researched average costs across seven Australian brands. Results are based on a 35-year-old non-smoking office worker with no pre-existing conditions listed.
Monthly income (pre tax)
Average cost per month (male)
Average cost per month (female)
Monthly payout range
$4,500 - $5,000
$7,500 - $8,000
Prices and benefit payouts are based on a 35-year-old, non-smoking office worker with no pre-existing conditions listed. Quotes checked across 8 brands in December 2019.
Is income protection the same as life insurance?
It's important to note that your income protection insurance won't provide any benefits if you die suddenly, so if you're killed in a car crash or suffer a fatal heart attack, you won't receive any payments from your insurance policy.
However, some insurers do provide a death benefit if you die while already claiming from your policy. This means that if you're diagnosed with a terminal illness and begin claiming from your income protection policy, but die 12 months later, you would receive a lump sum.
If you want your insurance policy to offer a payout for sudden death, you may want to consider life insurance in addition to income protection insurance.
Which brands offer income protection in Australia?
A number of insurers offer income protection cover in Australia.
Who can I speak to for help with my income protection?
Income protection insurance can be complicated and will vary greatly depending on your own personal circumstances. If you share your details below, a trusted and qualified advisor will be in touch to discuss your options.
An adviser can help you find cover from trusted life insurance brands.
Agreed value or indemnity value cover. Under an agreed value policy, the benefit you could receive is based on the amount of income you and your insurer agree that you earn at the time you apply. Under an indemnity value policy, your benefit amount is calculated based on evidence you provide at the time you make a claim. Indemnity value policies are typically cheaper.
Your age. Regardless of the premium structure you select, your insurer will take your age into account when determining the cost of premiums. The older you are, the more you will pay for cover.
The waiting period. The waiting period is the time you must wait after you stop working before your policy will start paying benefits. The shorter the waiting period you select, the more your cover will cost.
The benefit period. This is the amount of time for which your policy will offer benefits. The longer the maximum benefit period you select, the higher your income protection quote will be.
The level of cover you select. The higher the benefit amount you will receive when ill or injured, the more your cover will cost.
Your occupation. Certain high-risk occupations increase your chances of making a claim and therefore lead to cover costing more.
Your lifestyle. If you're a pack-a-day smoker or an adrenaline junkie always participating in adventure activities, expect your income protection insurance quote to increase.
Your medical history. If you've got a pre-existing medical condition and a history of health problems, the cost of cover will most likely increase.
Your gender. Premiums are generally higher for women than men due to a range of factors, including breast cancer and complications following pregnancy.
The definition of disability applied. There are different definitions of disabilities applied to income protection for when you are eligible to claim. Each has different pricing applied.
This depends on your preferences.
Buying through an adviser
If you want expert advice tailored to your insurance needs, you can opt to buy income protection cover through a financial adviser. Your adviser will help you research a range of policies that suit your needs and provide the assistance during your comparison.
The not so good
An adviser will take the time to compare the market for you, giving you access to a wide range of options.
An adviser will help you tailor your policy closer to your needs helping you find cover that meets your needs without the expensive extras.
An adviser will help you through the application process and explain the different features of your policy.
It will take longer to get cover in place.
You may be required to submit medical evidence if you suffer from a pre-existing condition.
Although rare, there are dodgy advisers who exist to simply get as much commission as possible.
Buying directly with an insurer
If you'd rather take a faster, simpler approach to obtaining cover, you can buy income protection insurance direct from a life insurance provider. It's easy to compare direct income protection quotes online – most providers offer quick quotes via their website or over the phone. All you have to do is provide a few basic personal details and the level of cover you want.
The not so good
Application is fast with cover activated online or over the phone.
A quote can be provided in minutes with no medical application.
Some direct insurance brands offer involuntary redundancy.
For some policies, underwriting is done at claims time so there is an increased risk of your claim being rejected if you did not declare certain conditions when applying. For direct policies that are fully underwritten check out our direct life insurance guide.
You are on your own when it comes to comparing different policies available. You may miss out on policies more suitable for you.
Many funds provide an income protection benefit as part of your super, with no underwriting required. As the benefit is paid from funds you've accumulated, there are no upfront out-of-pocket expenses. One of the main detractors for getting cover through your super is that it tends to be fairly basic, often with no choice of benefit period, waiting period or occupation definition. It is also tied to your superannuation, so if you change funds, you will no longer be covered.
The not so good
Cheaper option. Cover is taken from your super contributions so you don't notice it in your take-home income.
Reduced benefit period. The benefit period is generally capped at two years.
No medical examinations. Similar to buying direct, there is no medical examinations required to take out basic cover.
Digging into your funds. Your retirement funds are reduced as your premiums are funded via super.
No restriction on occupation. There is no restriction applied to certain occupations for cover through superannuation.
Some benefits not provided. Some ancillary benefits such as child cover, needle-stick or rehabilitation expenses are not offered by super policies.
Complex claims process.As the claim is paid to the fund trustee first who then must approve the claim, the process of receiving the benefit payment can be drawn out.
If your family relies on you as the primary breadwinner, or you're single without much of an emergency fund, it's worth considering income protection insurance.
Cover is typically available for Australian residents aged between 18 and 60, although this varies from insurer to insurer.
Yes, as long as you can prove you work at least 20 hours per week and have been self-employed for at least 12 months.
Yes. Cover is usually available if you work at least 20 hours a week, and have been in the same job for 12 months.
Yes. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) states that you can claim the cost of any payment made for insurance that covers you against the loss of your income.
Maybe. Different insurers have different limitations so, in this case, it may be worth seeking help from an insurance consultant. Learn more about income protection for high-risk manual jobs here.
Income protection insurance can be quite complicated and must be tailored to your unique circumstances, so it's worth discussing your policy options with an advisor.
It depends. A normal or uncomplicated pregnancy probably wouldn't be covered but, depending on your insurer, you might be able to claim if your pregnancy is a serious and prolonged health risk.
Yes. You can cancel your cover at any time. However, you won't get any money back if you cancel outside the cooling off period.
This will come down to how much cover you believe you can fund yourself. The longer you want your benefit to continue, the higher the premium cost you will attract. At the same time, you may really need long-term protection. You should take the cover out for as long as your finances will permit so that you continue to receive an income in the event of long-term incapacity.
You will be asked to select an appropriate waiting period when you purchase income protection in Australia. This is the period of time from when you are unable to work to when the monthly benefit payments commence. Here's what you should understand:
How long should you make your waiting period?
The waiting period you choose generally comes down to how long you feel you could survive without an income. You can save further on your policy by choosing a longer waiting period. You might be confident that you have enough savings and sick leave to fall back on for the short term.
Note: Waiting period options vary from 14 days up to 2 years.
Day 1 accident cover is an option available under some income protection policies that allows you to access benefits before the waiting period on your policy expires. This form of cover gives you protection in case you need money during the initial waiting period.
Note: There are various names for this feature
Different policies will use different terminology. Day 1 accident cover is often referred to as:
Accidental injury option
Accident benefit option
Day four accident
Although brands will offer cover from the first day you take out a policy, there is usually a minimum period you will have to wait to show you are disabled before there is any payout.
1/30 of monthly benefit is offered per day if claim is made for disability within less than one month of cover being taken out
Data taken from brand product disclosure statements on May 2017. Benefits, conditions and amounts are subject to change at any time.
Payout eligibility and disability definitions
Generally, your ability to perform the duties of your job before disability or a job that pays you income will determine if you can get a payout and how much you're paid out.
You'll either be considered:
Totally disabled. Your full benefit usually.
Partially disabled. A partial benefit usually.
If you have become ill or injured and are unable to work and earn an income, you will not be able to obtain income protection insurance to cover you for the current situation. However, you can still apply for income protection insurance for future events. Since your health is taken into consideration when you apply for income protection insurance, you may find that your current illness or injury may become a pre-existing condition. This means that you may have to pay higher premiums for your coverage, although this can depend on the nature of your condition or the type and level of injury.
All insurance approvals and premiums are assessed based on your level of risk, and the higher your risk level, the more you have to pay in premiums. In some cases, it can be harder to secure cover. Being classified as a standard risk means you have a low-risk job, lifestyle and health factors. High-risk cover can be more expensive for people with riskier jobs and leisure activities.
This is a condition set by each insurer, requiring that you work a certain number of hours each week to be eligible for cover.
Unfortunately, the maximum application age for most income protection policies in Australia is 64 (age plus next birthday). It may still be worth speaking with an insurance consultant about other insurance options that would be worth considering for your situation.
If you know what you are looking for in a policy and are keen to get cover in place straight away, you may wish to take out cover with a direct insurer. Cover can generally be put in place online or over the phone and on the same day provided you meet the provider's entry requirements and no additional information is required.
This is the maximum length of time your policy will pay you an income if you are unable to work. Typical benefit periods are 2 years, 5 years or to age 65, and the longer the benefit period, the higher the premium.
Each insurer will have their own specific definition, but in most cases you can be classified with a duties-based disability where you are unable to perform the core tasks of your job, an income-based disability where your income is reduced because of your disability, or an hours-based disability where the hours you are able to work are reduced because of your disability.
An increasing claims option is an additional benefit offered under an income protection insurance policy. Income protection increasing claims options ensure your benefit amount continues to increase after you claim for a monthly income protection benefit. It's typically offered by most insurance brands for an additional cost.
Why do people pay for this option?
Most income protection policies are designed to replace up to 75% of your regular income, but what you are paid out initially might not be enough down the road, for example in five years (as the cost of living rises). If you have selected the increasing claims option for your policy, your benefits will increase every year either by a fixed percentage or by the yearly CPI increase.
In general, most income protection insurance providers will offer to cover your average salary up to 75% at most. However, you may find other insurers that may offer additional cover in excess of up to 15%. It is important to note that the additional amount must be used as a superannuation contribution. This means, you will receive the 75% benefit amount and the remainder will be paid into your super fund. It is unlikely that you will find insurers that offer to cover 100% of your income, as there should be an incentive for you to return to the workforce once you have recovered.
Policies will usually pay out up to 75% of your regular gross income.
Income protection insurance generally doesn't provide cover for redundancy, although there are a number of general insurance providers that do provide cover for redundancy in Australia.
Waiting periods (the time you must be unable to work before you start receiving a payout) range from 14 days to 2 years. The shorter the waiting period, the higher the premium. The cause of your sickness or injury does not need to be work related in order to receive the benefit.
This is the maximum length of time your policy will pay your income if you are unable to work. Typical benefit periods are 2 years, 5 years or to age 65, and the longer the benefit period, the higher the premium.
No. Income protection will not provide any benefit payment during pregnancy. There are a number of insurers that will let you waive your premium during pregnancy.
Generally speaking, the older you are, the more likely you are to suffer an illness; therefore, the premium you pay will be higher. Smoking is also seen as an added level of risk and usually sees your premium rise.
A stepped premium is one which starts out as very affordable and increases each year as you get older, while a level premium stays the same thoughout your policy and only increases to keep in line with inflation.
Premiums can be based on the type of occupation the person has and the perceived level of risk. A manual or blue-collar worker such as a miner might be required to pay a higher premium compared to an office worker, who is considered less risky.
Nicola Middlemiss is a senior writer at Finder, focussing on all things insurance. She has been a business journalist for the last five years, reporting on various industries including insurance, banking, mortgages and financial services across Europe, North America, Asia and Oceania. She has written over a thousand articles covering the Australian insurance industry. Now, she uses that experience to help customers understand their policies and make smarter financial decisions. Nicola graduated from the University of Leeds, with a bachelor's degree in English and Art History.
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