How can my occupation affect my cover?
Your occupation can affect your income protection and life insurance cover in a number of ways, for example:
- Your level of risk when you apply. This can affect your premium level for both income protection and life insurance.
- Your eligibility for income protection. Your occupation will have specific activities that you perform regularly. These activities can also determine whether you're able to work or not.
- Your ability to return to work. For example, someone with a manual job may be able to return to work in any occupation behind a desk. If you currently work in an office job and you are injured so significantly that you can't carry on your own occupation, there is little chance of finding any other occupation you will be able to do either.
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What factors of my occupation can increase my level of risk?
Insurers assess your occupation as either holding standard risk or a special risk. A standard risk occupation does not expose you to specific dangers or hazards and does not require you to engage in physically, mentally or emotionally risky behaviours to complete your tasks.
On the other hand, special risk occupations can be those which:
- Require you to complete hazardous tasks in your day to day role.
- Continual exposure to risks can affect morale that can lead to excessive drinking or other unhealthy lifestyle habits.
- Exposes you to poisonous chemicals.
- You work in unhealthy or insanitary environments.
- You are at risk of occupational diseases.
- Cause excessive mental and nervous strain.
How can what I earn impact the policies available to me?
Your career can affect the type of income protection you take out. For example, if you are a high income earner you may have found it difficult to insure yourself for the level of income you are used to earning. Previously, the Australian insurance industry limited the amount high income earners could insure to $30,000 per month, which would only protect those who earned up to $480,000 a year (working of 75% of annual income).
In general, insurance companies limit income protection benefits to around 75% of your income, as an incentive to return to work once you recover. However, as a result of ongoing and significant increases in the cost of living some insurers are now offer income protection benefits of up to $60,000 per month. This means that if you are white collar professional such as a surgeon, doctor, other medical professional, lawyer or barrister you can be eligible for this new maximum income protection benefit amount.Back to top
Income protection for different industries
Since most of us spend the majority of our time at work, your occupation forms an important basis for assessing your insurance risk factors. At the same time, choosing life insurance that is tailored to your occupation provides you with more relevant and valuable coverage, not to mention more affordable premiums.
Tradesperson or Construction Workers
With many tradesmen and construction workers being required to have cover in place to work on site, many insurers have created policies that are specifically tailored for this group. These specialised policies often include:
- A specific injuries benefit. This feature covers common injuries such as a fracture in your leg, arm, skull, thigh or pelvis. Other injuries you can expect to be covered for include paralysis, total and permanent loss of sight in one eye, and the loss of the use of a foot or hand.
- Accident benefit option. This benefit allows tradespeople or construction workers to claim a benefit before the end of the waiting period of the policy.
- Self employed and contract benefits. If you are a self employed tradesperson or you work on a contract basis, your income may fluctuate significantly from month to month, and year to year. However, your insurer will be able to offer you an insurance benefit which reflects your income, and is still enough to cover your expenses while you recover from illness or injury.
Miners, and Oil and Gas Industry Workers
The additional risk of working in the gas, oil or mining industry can make it more difficult for these workers to get access to affordable cover. Some factors that will be considered by insurance companies include:
- Work in an underground mine, or an open cut mine.
- Use or are in contact with explosives.
- Work in hard or soft rock mining.
- Work on a fly in, fly out basis.
You will also need to provide details about your exact job title and duties, as well as the hours you work in a typical rotation.
Doctor, Surgeon, Dentist or Medical Attendant
Working in the medical industry, as health professionals, you are exposed to a variety of risks in your day to day job. At the same time, you know just how easy it is to fall ill, be injured, and the effect that these situations have on a person’s lifestyle. Therefore, you will want to look for life insurance which covers you for:
- Needle stick injuries including protection for occupationally acquired HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.
- A non offset clause which entitles you to a full benefit payment even if you’re already receiving WorkCover benefit.
Farming can be a risky industry in which to work because of the sometimes significant seasonal and year to year fluctuations in earnings, and long term threats such as floods and droughts. However, you don’t have to struggle through those financial setbacks alone, because there are life insurance policies which are specifically designed for the farming industry.
For example, a farmer’s life insurance policy benefit can be based on 30% of your gross or net farm turn over, or calculate the benefit on your net income. if you are a farmer looking for life insurance or income protection insurance, you may also want to consider the benefits of stepped or level premiums for your situation, and consider whether you would be best suited to an indemnity or agreed value policy.Back to top
What else should I know about income protection insurance when I'm looking to compare?
- Coverage for a range of medical conditions. Each insurer has their own inclusions and exclusions. In general there is no set list of eligible medical conditions that result in a pay out.
- Cover at work and outside of work.You may think you’re protected by WorkCover and that you will be compensated in the event you're sick or injured. However, WorkCover only pays out for incidents that are a direct result of or happen at work. Income protection ensures you are protected for injury and illness both on site and at home.
- Relevant coverage. The amount of cover you choose should reflect your future needs. This is why some income protection policies increase your cover amount each year, to keep up with the inflation rates.
- Pays a portion of your income and extras. Most income protection insurance policies pay around 75% of your regular income while you are off work with an illness or injury. This payment also includes superannuation contributions and any other benefits you receive.
- Your choice of waiting period. Depending on your situation and your current savings, you can choose the period between making a claim and receiving your first benefit payment. The longer the waiting period you choose, the lower your premiums. Often you can choose a period between two weeks to two years. Just remember that benefit payments are often paid monthly in arrears, so if you have a waiting period of 60 days, you need to wait 60 days, plus another 30 days before you receive your first payment.
- Your choice of benefit period. Again, the longer the benefit period you choose, the more expensive your premiums. You don’t want your income protection to run out before you are ready to return to work. You can either choose a set period of two or five years for example, or until a certain age, such as 65, when your retirement funds will be accessible.
- Choose an agreed or indemnity benefit. You can choose an agreed benefit amount when you take out income protection, so that the full benefit amount will be paid when you make an eligible claim, regardless of your actual income at the time you make the claim. An indemnity benefit is based on your income at the time of the claim and requires financial checks before your benefit is paid.
You will also find that the costs of premiums can vary significantly between policies and life insurance providers for coverage which is seemingly the same. However, comprehensive policies will offer a lot more added benefits, so consider whether you need to be paying extra for.
Features to look out for on your policy
- Specified injury and illness benefits. This feature will pay a benefit if you suffer from one of the specific injuries listed in the policy, even if you continue with your work. These may include broken bones, cancer, a stroke or heart attack.
- Elective surgery. Is coverage for injuries which are caused by elective or cosmetic surgery.
- Bed confinement. Will waive the waiting period and pay benefits immediately if you are confined to a hospital bed.
- Accommodation and travel assistance. Will pay for accommodation and travel for family members who need to visit you if you are sick or injured away from home. This may include relocation assistance to pay for air fares for you are disabled while overseas.
- Family care. Will pay family income assistance if you require another family member to take care of you.
- Home care. Will pay for the assistance of a full time carer if required.
- No claim bonus. Will increase your benefit amount at no cost to you if you have held the policy for a certain amount of time without making a claim.
- Rehabilitation incentive. Will help to pay for the costs of rehabilitation care.
- Guaranteed future insurability. Will guarantee to increase your benefit amount if your salary package increases.
- Increasing claims benefit. Will ensure that your benefit amount increases each year in line with the CPI, once a claim has commenced. This is especially important in income protection policies with a long benefit period, such as until retirement, so that your benefit amounts are able to continue to meet your family’s financial needs as inflation increases.
- Day one accident cover. Will waive the waiting period if your disability is the result of an accident.
What else can I do to help me find the best policy for my occupation?
Choosing the factors that will complement your need in an income protection insurance policy is just the first step. A perfect plan always involves formulating the strategy first, testing the strategy, going back to the game board, and executing the plan. Therefore, the next phase in your quest to get the best income protection* quotes requires more legwork than brain power.
- Ask around – Ask people you know who have already got an income protection policy what to look for and what components should be included. They can give you so-called insider’s insights about a certain policy, feature, and even the insurance company. If you are still not convinced and have questions, ask an experienced insurance adviser who’s got a broad portfolio to give you a much better insight.
- Shop around – This is a general rule whenever you want to buy something – from your groceries to your home furniture. Don’t be afraid to ask insurance agencies about the policy you are interested in. Probe and ask for clarifications when necessary. Don’t be shy to ask for discounts or about their most competitive price. After all, it is your future you are talking about.
- Collect quotes – Get various quotes from different insurance providers. Insurance companies have websites which you can get instant quotes from. All you need to do is fill out the form and submit. You can even speak to an insurance agent right away to explain more about the policy you are eyeing. Moreover, the online quotes you get is as accurate as the quotes you get from an insurance agent.
- Review - After all the brain and leg work, review all the information you got and sit with your insurance adviser to discuss other possible options.