If your pay suddenly stopped coming in, how long could you handle paying the bills for?
Income protection insurance pays up to 85% of your regular pay if you get injured or fall ill and are forced to stop working. It's a foolproof way to keep food on the table, no matter what life throws at you.
Best of all, the premiums are completely tax-deductible so you don't even have to be out of pocket for covering yourself.
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Tip: If you want to compare policies side-by-side, simply click the 'Compare' tickbox that's just underneath the green buttons!
Income Protection Insurance Finder™ is a free comparison service made for Australians by Australians. Use our tools and guides to find suitable cover for your occupation and find answers to your income protection questions.
Common income protection questions
Top question: 'Is income protection right for me?'
Answer: If you're dependant on your income for your livelihood (like rent, mortgage, groceries, and bills) then it's worth considering income protection. It's especially useful for self-employed people, small business owners, contractors or anyone who's business is reliant on their ability to perform work.Why? Look no further than the numbers. A May 2018 survey by Finder found that:
Over a third (34%) of Australians wouldn't be able to support themselves for a month or less if they became injured or ill tomorrow and unable to work.
If the time out of work was increased to six months, that number jumps to 64%.
Income protection covers part of your income up to a defined period of time (up to 2 years on some policies).
Answer two quick questions to work out the type of cover you need.
Question 1 of 2
You're probably looking for...
Life insurance pays out a benefit to your loved ones if you die. This payment can be used to pay off the mortgage and for any ongoing expenses your family has.
What is income protection insurance?
Income protection insurance pays you up to 85% of your regular income if you're unable to work due to serious illness or injury. You'll receive a payout for an agreed period (usually up to two years) or until you can return to work, whichever is sooner.
If you're ready to compare income protection insurance, Finder gives you a choice of going direct with an insurer or speaking to a financial adviser to talk you through your options.
What can income protection cover while you recover?
The monthly benefit can cover your everyday expenses as well as any long-term debt repayments. This can include the following:
With or without work, you still need to eat to survive.
Think utilities, rent, internet, insurance and all those things that are usually taken care of by your income.
This is a big one. If you stop working you'll still need to cover your mortgage.
Income protection can cover any caring costs you have, like childcare and the cost of a carer if you need one.
finder.com.au spoke to Germaine, who shared her story of when income protection was able to help her in a time of need.
1. Diagnosed with cancer
At 56, the legal professional was diagnosed with breast cancer forcing her out of her job and was left to treat cancer without any income.
2. Income protection at a difficult time
Fortunately, Germaine had an income protection insurance policy that could provide a monthly benefit of up to 75% of her income. Thanks to this, she was able to take time off, recover and still pay for her ongoing living expenses.
3. Eventually able to return part-time to work
After steady recovery, Germaine was able to return to work in a part time arrangement. A feature of her income protection insurance allowed her to switch to a 'partial benefit' to cover the days where could no longer work.
Note: We interviewed a real policyholder for this case study however we changed their name to 'Germaine' to allow the user to remain anonymous.
They provide coverage for up to 75% of your income, although some policies will cover up to 80%.
The insurer cannot cancel the policy as long as the policyholder continues to pay their premiums.
The provider is unable to adjust the terms of the policy once you have taken it out.
It offers a more comprehensive range of benefits and features than other types of income cover.
Employers usually take out these policies on behalf of their employees.
It is offered to members of group super funds.
It offers coverage of up to 75% of an employee's income.
The cover provided is usually quite basic and does not take into consideration unique features relevant to the policyholder.
This is a simplified and more affordable form of cover for accidental injury, disability and death of the insured person.
It can provide either a lump-sum benefit or an ongoing payment if you suffer a serious accident/disability and are unable to work.
The ongoing benefit payment is generally up to 75% of your income from age 2 to age 65.
Some policies will provide additional benefits for rehabilitation expenses.
How is income protection different to WorkCover?
WorkCover is a nationwide initiative where all employers pay the government a premium in case one of their employees is injured at work. The employer can then make a claim and WorkCover will pay out compensation and other benefits, but only if the injury occurred at work.
You should view WorkCover as the minimum amount of insurance cover you need
While all Australian employees are covered under WorkCover, that doesn't make income protection insurance obsolete. You should view WorkCover as the minimum amount of insurance cover you need. Potential benefits are not always guaranteed by WorkCover. The table below outlines the differences:
Cover for injuries and illnesses that occur during work
Cover for injuries and illnesses that occur outside of work
Cover for rehabilitation expenses
Cover for elective surgery
Cover for your spouses accommodation expenses (if they need be with you away from home)
*Make sure you check with your provider. This may be an included feature or an additional option.
Provides an ongoing benefit payment of 75% of your monthly income if you suffer a serious illness or injury - regardless of whether
Will cover injury and illness that occurs both at work and outside of the workplace.
Provides additional benefit payments to cover rehabilitation expenses.
You can choose to have your benefit paid for 2 years, 5 years or to age 65.
You are generally entitled to compensation if you suffer an injury, disease, illness or psychological injury through the course of your work.
You may be entitled to compensation if through the course of your work, a pre-existing condition reoccurs.
Workers Compensation provides cover for reasonable medical, surgical and hospital care for work-related injuries.
A lump-sum payment may be provided for permanent impairments.
Premiums are funded by the employer.
Benefit payments will usually last for a minimum of 13 weeks at 90% of the workers Annual Weekly Earnings (AWE). From 13 to 26 weeks, this amount is reduced to 80% of the AWE.
You may not receive payment benefits when you are first injured, which can be when you need them the most to cover medical bills, mortgage repayments and other immediate expenses.
Although we don't believe price is the most important thing to consider, once you understand what cover you need it's good to see who offers competitive premiums. Here's an idea of how much it costs to get income protection for an annual salary of $45,000.
TAL Accelerated Protection
Asteron Life Complete
Zurich Wealth Protection
*Prices quoted above were taken from finder's quote engine. The quote was based on a 35-year-old, non-smoking male office worker. Quotes are accurate for March 2018 and are subject to change. Any weekly premium mentioned is for reference only as most providers offer yearly, monthly and fortnightly payments.
As you can see, there is a lot to consider when taking out income protection insurance. The following are a few simple tips to help you navigate your options:
Ask for all the details. Don't be afraid to ask question after question of your insurer until you're sure you've got all the information. This means knowing exactly what is and isn't covered, how much your benefit amount will be and what your premiums will be now and in the future.
Keep up with inflation. You can look for a policy which has index-linked premiums and benefits, so that you know that your benefit amount will always keep up with inflation costs.
Look for a non-cancellable policy. A non-cancellable policy means that your insurer won't reassess your health or circumstances each time you renew your policy, so you won't be refused cover or have a premium loading added. You can also take out a policy with guaranteed future insurability so that you can increase your level of cover without your application needing to go back to the underwriter.
The effects of other income. Be aware that offset clauses can allow your insurer to reduce your benefit payout if you are receiving income from another source, such as sick pay from an employer or Centrelink benefits.
Know the conditions of insurance through your super. When you take out income protection insurance through your super, the policy is between the trustee of the fund and the insurer. Therefore, you need to make sure that both the trustee and the insurer know who your nominated beneficiaries are so the benefits go where they are needed.
Make sure you're happy with the waiting period and benefit period. The waiting period is the time you have to wait before you receive your benefit payout after a successful claim. The waiting period you choose will depend on how much you have in savings, and how long you can survive financially on other benefits, such as sick leave. The benefit period is the length of time you receive the benefit for, whether it is for two months, two years or until retirement.
Own occupation or any occupation. Make sure you know whether you will be expected to return to any job you are able to perform after an illness or injury, or if you can continue to receive a benefit until you are able to return to your own occupation.
Understand the terms and conditions. As boring and time consuming as it is to read the fine print of an insurance policy, you want to make sure you understand all of the terms, inclusions, exclusions and conditions of your policy, so that you know you have the coverage you want and need. You don't want to be paying premiums for a policy, only to find out at the time of a claim that you're not eligible for benefits.
Be sure to review your income protection policy every few years as your circumstances change e.g. your salary increases. This can help you understand if you need to modify your cover.
Frequently asked questions
What situations does income protection cover ?
One of the most important steps when comparing policies is to find out when you will actually be covered. Providers will class disabilities as either partial or total and permanent. The exact definition of total disablement will vary among insurance providers but most will use the following characteristics to approve a benefit payment:
You suffer a serious accident or illness.
You are unable to work due to suffering a serious accident or illness.
You experience a decrease in income following a serious accident or illness.
Total and permanent disabilities (this is where TPD insurance comes in)
Death (this is the job of life insurance)
Redundancy (unless policy is combined with a redundancy plan)
What's considered 'unable to work'? Three disabilities to understand
This is where it can get confusing. In this definition of "unable to work" or "disablement", life insurance companies use these different definitions of disability;
You are unable to perform one or more important duties in your role at work because you have suffered an illness or injury.
Such duties may include manual work, supervision, desk work, meeting with clients or presentations.
You have suffered a reduction in your income of 20% or greater because of an accident or illness.
This means you are unable to perform the duties of your own occupation a certain number of hours per week (usually 10 hours) after suffering a serious accident or illness.
In this case your income and in turn your benefit amount, are assessed at the time you make a claim. Therefore, when you make a claim you will also need to provide financial documents, so if you income has reduced since you applied for the policy, your benefit will also be reduced, however, if your income has increased, your benefit will too. An indemnity policy can also often be around 20% cheaper in premiums than an agreed value policy, and can be ideal if you are in a steady job, where you receive regular pay raises and b
Agreed value or indemnity value cover. Under an agreed value policy, the benefit 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 adrenalin 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 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
Fast application with cover activated online or over the phone
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 who 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 detractions 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. Benefit period 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.
This will come down to how much cover you believe you can fund yourself. The longer you want your benefit to continue, the higher will be 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 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 period.
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 cover, there is usually a minimum you will have 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 anytime.
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 you 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 eg 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 who 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 though out 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.
Maurice Thach is the publisher for life insurance and business insurance at Finder and has been writing about insurance for 3+ years. His is favourite question is "Am I covered for _____?". Maurice has completed a Tier 1 Life Insurance Certification and a Tier 2 General Insurance Certification under ASIC's Regulatory Guide 146. This means he can confidently provide general advice for life insurance and non-life insurance products to Aussie readers everywhere. Outside of work, you'll probably find Maurice hitting up the nearest basketball court.
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