How to find the best life insurance policy on the market.
The best life insurance cover depends entirely on your personal circumstances. There are some key strategies you can use to find the policy that is most suitable for your needs:
- Understand your personal circumstances. Get a clear picture of how you stand financially so you can calculate a workable budget for your insurance premiums. Take stock of your medical history to assess what items you will need included in the policy.
- Compare policies. Be sure to compare premiums, benefits, and terms and conditions from a range of providers.
- Speak to an insurance adviser. An adviser can give you recommendations, break down complex language, and to tailor a plan to your specific requirements.
Best life insurance policies of 2016 as voted by the AFR
Below is a list of the top life insurance policies selected by the Australian Financial Review for its annual Blue Ribbon Awards. The criteria it considered included clear pricing and definitions, a wide range of features, flexibility and substantial benefit amounts.
Best term and Total and Permanent Disability Insurance (TPD)*
Here are the best term and TPD insurance policies of 2016. All policies listed offer $5 million in TPD cover and unlimited life cover.
|Product name||Product details||Maximum Age to Apply|
|MLC Life Cover with TPD Rider - Best term/TPD Policy||Offers the widest range of features of policies compared, combined with clear pricing.||59|
|TAL Accelerated Protection - Life Insurance - Highly commendable||Life insurance cover can be bought back if a TPD claim is made.||62|
|Comminsure Life Care - Highly commendable||Offers a Plan Protection Option to keep your cover going if you become disabled.||69|
What features should I assess to find the best cover?
Everyone has different needs when it comes to providing adequate cover for themselves or their family in the event of unforeseen losses. The best policy is the one which will have all of the inclusions which suit your cover requirements, offers adequate flexibility and fits within your budget. To help you with this decision, consider the features you need and how they will affect the cost and the type of policy you choose:
|Feature||What does this mean?|
|Affordability||Make sure the policy you are looking for fits into your budget and is affordable now and in the long term.|
|Worldwide cover||This means that the policy will cover you if you travel to other counties. It is especially important if you are a frequent traveller.|
|Sum insured||Different policies will have different minimum and maximum levels of cover applied and can change based on certain age or lifestyle factors.|
|Age limit||Every policy has an minimum and maximum age limit for when a policy can be bought and when it will expire.|
|Ability to combine cover||Most brands will allow you to combine life insurance coverage with TPD, trauma or income protection insurance for extra protection.|
|Additional cover options||Additional options can include needlestick benefits, benefit buy-back or premium reimbursement.|
|Ability to adjust cover||Conditions may vary between brands around adjusting cover levels. In some instances you may be required to take another medical exam.|
|Premium payment options||This includes the ability to choose stepped (increase with age), level (remain the same) or hybrid (begin on stepped pattern before automatically converting to level) payment structures.|
|Built-in benefits||Brands will have a different set of built-in benefits including indexation, terminal illness benefit, funeral expense benefits, ability to include children in the policy and financial planning benefits.|
|Include your children in your policy||Protecting your family's future is important to you, so in case anything should happen to you, you want to make sure that they are financially taken care of.|
|Discounts and rewards||Some insurance providers will offer discounts for taking out multiple-policies, maintaining the policy or signing up for health programs.|
Additional policy features to review
|How the policy adjusts premiums according to your health||When you sign up for a life insurance plan you will usually have to undergo a physical exam and the medical underwriter will also take into account your age and your medical history when calculating your premiums.|
|How policy covers pre-existing medical conditions||Even if you are older or have a medical condition you can still find affordable life insurance cover. Insurance providers will have different criteria for how they assess pre-existing conditions and what conditions will be automatically covered.|
|If the policy covers specific occupation types||If you work in a riskier occupation you may have exclusions on your cover. Finding life insurance can take additional research.|
|Additional fees||Most policies will have an annual policy fee that is applied. Insurers should provide full disclosure to any feed applied.|
Tip: Review your policy regularly
If you already have cover in place, you should take the time to review your policy regularly to ensure you are not over or underinsured. Some events that may lead to you reviewing your policy include;
- Marriage or divorce
- Purchase of new home
- Children have moved out of home/become financially independent
- You have retired
- Experience change in health
Most advisers recommend that you review your life insurance policy at least once every 12 months. There may be a better-priced and/or more suitable option available for you.
How do my life insurance needs change over time?
The graph below shows the different life stages and when it may be suitable to take out cover. This should only be used as a guide as cover requirements may change depending on your own situation.
How can I get the best* policy for the lowest price?
- Determine an appropriate level of cover: Consider your current financial obligations and how long you may require cover for to determine an adequate amount of cover. You may find that a cheaper policy with less features still provides adequate cover for your situation.
- Review existing cover: You may already be entitled to some form of cover through your superannuation, employer or other insurance products you have.
- Live a healthier lifestyle: Pre-existing medical conditions, smoking, alcohol consumption and obesity can all drive up your premiums (smokers will usually pay double). Live a clean lifestyle to be rewarded with lower premiums.
- Speak with an insurance adviser: An adviser can use their knowledge of the insurance market to help you find competitively priced cover.
- Consolidate existing cover: You may already have some life insurance accumulated across different superannuation funds. Consolidating cover can help you avoid multiple charges.
- Combine policies: Some brands will offer multi-policy discounts if you take out cover for your spouse or child or if you take out other types of personal insurance with them.
From start to finish: Steps to ensure you have the right cover
Extra value provided by life insurance brands
Each Australian brand has their own methods for attracting and rewarding their customers, and some common discounts you may want to ask about when you apply for life insurance are:
- A multi policy discount: When you have more than one insurance policy with the same insurer, you can often qualify for a multi policy discount. For example you may already have your home and car insurance, or your income protection and funeral protection insurance with a certain insurer, so it can be worth asking whether you qualify for a discount by taking out life insurance with them too, as you can usually save around 5% on your premiums.
- Multiple life insurance policies: You can also take out more than one type of life insurance policy to qualify for a discount, for example, if you are a small to medium business owner you can purchase coverage for yourself, your family and your business. These additional insurances can also offer potential tax benefits and savings at tax time.
- Discount for large sum: If you are insured for a large benefit amount, for example more than $1 million, you may be eligible for discounts on your premiums.
- Making annual payments: If you pay your premiums annually, rather than fortnightly or monthly many insurers will offer you a discounted rate. In some cases you can save up to 8%, plus you have the ease and convenience of making just one payment and knowing you are covered for the entire year.
- Health and lifestyle: There are also discounts applied to the cost of life insurance for healthy living. For example if you can show your gym membership or evidence of health screening you can often qualify for a discount of around 10% on your premiums.
A sample of what is offered
To give you an example of the benefits and discounts offered by individual insurers, following are details of the benefits offered by three of Australia’s major life insurance brands. AIA offers benefits such as:
- Counselling and grief support: When a claim is made on a life insurance policy, it is because a serious event has occurred resulting in death, serious injury or the diagnosis of serious illness. Therefore, when you make a claim, you and your family can also benefit from 24/7 counselling support if you are insured with AIA.
- Legal and tax advice: While life insurance is in place to reduce financial pressures, there can still be a number of decisions which need to be made about the legal and tax implications and resolutions of financial matters in the event of a death. Therefore, AIA offers legal assistance for an injury, dispute or litigation which may arise.
- In home assistance: If you have made a claim on your life insurance because of disability or illness, then you are likely to need more help with your everyday tasks, and AIA can provide in home assistance for things like household duties, gardening, childcare or cleaning.
- Funeral planning: When a loved one has passed away, it can be difficult to think about the details of planning their funeral, which is why AIA offers assistance with choosing a funeral director, a cemetery or cremation services, and can plan the after service function and catering.
At Asteron there are also a number of additional benefits policy holders can enjoy, in addition to the peace of mind of knowing that Asteron have paid more than $369 million in claims, to approximately 6,200 Australians. With Asteron you can enjoy:
- Complete worldwide coverage: This added benefit means that you and your family are covered for serious illness or injury anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also cover each of your children for a maximum benefit of $10,000 for illness or injury.
- Rewarding loyalty: As a loyal customer, Asteron will reward you by increasing your coverage amount without requiring you to undergo any further medical examinations.
- Advance funeral benefit: Asteron will pay an amount in advance of the full benefit amount to help cover the immediate expenses of a funeral.
- Financial planning reimbursement: If you or your family seek financial advice after receiving the full benefit amount, Asteron will reimburse you the cost of this advice.
MLC is a division of the National Australia Bank, one of Australia’s Big Four Banks, and with life insurance from MLC you will be benefitting from:
- Comprehensive and extensive financial management: MLC not only provides life insurance policies and options, but also offers investment, superannuation and private wealth management solutions.
- Strength in numbers: MLC currently manages more than $122 billion on behalf of individuals and corporate customers in Australia.
- Access to the best doctors in the world: MLC is able to connect you with 50,000 of the best doctors around the world so that you can receive world class treatment and advice no matter what your condition.
One benefit which many Australian insurers offer as a free extra on their life insurance policies is children’s insurance. In many cases you can add your children to your life insurance policy, so that they are covered for:
- The child’s death.
- A traumatic event.
- A terminal illness.
The exact illnesses and injuries which your child is covered for under your policy will differ between insurance providers, but you can generally receive a tax free benefit of between $10,000 and $25,000 for your child’s life insurance claim. Children aged two to 16 can be covered under their parent’s life insurance, and can often convert the policy to a full policy as an adult. Having your child covered under your life insurance policy can benefit you in the following ways:
- Give you the financial flexibility to take time off work to care for your child.
- Provide the money needed to pay for specialist treatments.
- The benefit amount can cover every day bills such as mortgage, school fees or child care for your other children.
- To pay for home and car modifications to accommodate your child.
- Keep your child comfortable and secure while they deal with a difficult time in their lives.
Pre-existing medical conditions
It is also possible to find affordable life insurance coverage if you have a pre-existing medical condition.
- Know what you want from your life insurance: Do you simply want to provide a benefit pay out when you pass away, or do you want to be covered in case you fall ill again, with the same medical condition?
- Include a letter from your doctor: Have your doctor write you a letter which details your current medications and treatments.
- Don’t give up after one rejection: You also need to keep in mind that each insurer has their own criteria for assessment of risk.
- Tell the truth: Failure to disclose full details of any pre-existing conditions may lead to your policy being rejected in the event of a claim.
High risk occupation cover
If you work in one of these high risk industries you may find it difficult and/or expensive to find life insurance.
- Search widely. Make sure you compare a variety of different life insurance plans and providers, as each will have a different approach to high risk applicants.
- Look for high risk specialists. Some insurers are also highly experienced in insuring high risk applicants and offer special deals for those with high risk occupations.
- Understand any exclusions. In some cases an insurer will cover a high risk applicant, while excluding them from claiming on accidents or injuries which result from certain high risk activities.
Review life insurance brands*
Taking the time to consider which life insurance brand is best for your coverage is an important element.
- Strength: Check the financial strength and credibility of a life insurance brand.
- Customer service: It might be worth reading up on reviews from previous customers and industry bodies to get an idea of the insurers level of customer service. This can include things such as their handling of claims, ability to contact etc.
Make sure you avoid these common pitfalls when looking at life insurance cover:
- Ignoring future costs: Think about your current bills and expenses, and what those costs will look like in the future. For example, if you have young children, the costs of their school and tertiary study will be a significant future cost.
- Forgetting to cover the stay at home parent: Life insurance for the stay at home parent is also valuable, just think about how much your family would have to spend on a cleaner and child care if the stay at home parent were to fall sick, be injured or die.
- Putting off taking out cover: Your premiums will only increase with age so it may be worth taking out cover early if required and securing a competitive rate.
- Going with the cheapest policy: The cheapest policy will usually offer a reduced level of cover. Make sure the premium matches the quality of the cover provided.
- Skim over the terms and conditions: Take the time to actually read the product disclosure statement to get a clear understanding of exactly what you are covered for the conditions for benefit payment.
* The offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of products finder.com.au has access to track details from and is not representative of all the products available in the market. Products are displayed in no particular order or ranking. The use of terms 'Best' and 'Top' are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking financial advice and consider your personal financial circumstances when comparing products.