Q: What is TPD insurance? TPD insurance provides you with a lump-sum payment if a serious illness or injury stops you from working permanently.
This includes accidents such as the loss of a limb or eyesight or if you're diagnosed with a life-changing illness such as cancer or motor neurone disease (MND).
There are two main types of TPD insurance:
Any occupation. You can no longer work in any jobs suited to your education, training or experience.
Own occupation. You can no longer work in your current job.
If you don’t have the savings to support your current lifestyle and would be unable to keep paying your bills, then TPD is worth considering. Roughly one in five Australians are currently living with a disability, which equates to about 4.3 million people and is why TPD is such an important product to consider.
Ask yourself, “How would you pay off your mortgage without working again?”
Income protection replaces some of your income if an injury or illness stops you from working for a short period of time. TPD provides a one of payment for an injury or illness that stops you from working long term.
While it will depend on your policy, if you're making a claim on a joint life and TPD policy your life insurance benefit will be reduced by the amount you're awarded for your TPD claim. However, some insurers offer a buy back option, which means you're able to increase your life benefit back to its original amount before the TPD claim for an additional premium. .
Generally, you can only claim on a TPD once.
Yes. In fact, a 2015 SunSuper study found that of its members who been paid a TPD claim, 36% either returned to work or were looking for a job.
What's covered by TPD?
As has been mentioned, TPD stands for total and permanent disability, but in what actual situations are covered claim? The answer depends on the type of TPD insurance you have.
There are four main types of TPD cover available:
1. Own occupation
This provides cover if you can't perform your current occupation anymore.
2. Any occupation
This provides cover if you can't perform any type of job related to your experience or education anymore. This is harder to prove than own occupation.
The cost of TPD insurance was taken from a sample quote of all policies available on finder.com.au's quoting engine. Details of the quote were for a 35 year old non-smoking male using a TPD sum insured of $200,000.
These figures were taken from the Australian Bureau of Statistics report Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2015
How much you pay will depend on a bunch of factors including your age, gender, occupation and the definition of TPD you go for. For example: on $500,000 worth of cover, the cost for a male ranged anywhere from $21.42 per month to $55.97 per month.
Average cost of a policy (per month)
We analysed the cost of a 35-year-old-applicant who doesn't smoke for various cover amounts and checked out two different occupation types (white collar and blue collar). Here's what we found:
Average prices were taken from a sample quote of all policies available on finder.com.au's quoting engine. Details of the quote were for a 35-year-old non-smoker.
Factors that affect the cost of cover
This is one of the most important factors to affect your premiums. TPD insurance premiums are generally stepped, which means as you get older, your premiums get more expensive each year.
Women typically qualify for lower premiums because they live longer than men.
Your job affects how much you'll pay for cover. The more dangerous the job the more you'll pay for TPD.
Insurers take into account a range of personal situations including your family's medical history.
Your premiums can be affected by a range of health indicators including your blood pressure, cholesterol and red blood cells.
If you smoke, drink or participate in high-risk activities on a regular basis, these factors are also taken into account when calculating your level of risk.
Policy wording and definitions to check
Coverage varies depending on the insurer, so it is essential that you read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) closely. Note: Most brands will combine TPD, Trauma Insurance and Life Insurance into one document.
Four crucial features you must check
Total disablement benefit This is the benefit that's paid if you are disabled due to an injury or illness and are unable to perform work duties.
Partial disability benefit. This is the amount that is payable in the event of partial disablement eg loss of one arm, one leg or sight in one eye.
Your choice of own occupation or any occupation definition. You’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of any vs own occupation cover, eg cost of cover and when a benefit can be claimed.
Buy back option. This option is useful if your TPD cover is part of your term life insurance. When a TPD claim is paid, the amount will be deducted from your life cover amount - buy back option will allow you to reinstate that amount.
Additional features that are also important
Death benefit. A benefit amount may be payable in the event of your death, even if your TPD cover is a standalone policy.
Loss of independence feature. In some cases the lump sum payment available with TPD insurance can convert to a loss of independence payout, based on the insured's ability to care for themselves.
Guaranteed future insurability. This feature allows you to increase the coverage of your policy during the important life events, such as marriage, children, or mortgage, without needing to undergo another medical examination, even if your health situation has changed.
Indexation benefit. Sum insured will increase annually in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to keep up with inflation.
Premium freeze option. Some insurers offer this option in which you can choose to retain your current annual premium under a stepped style when you reach a certain age and it will reduce the insured amount gradually.
Can you get TPD insurance together with other types of insurance?
(e.g. death cover)
Many Australian life insurers offer life insurance (death cover) and let you bundle them with additional types of cover including:
Total and permanent disability insurance
You can elect to take them out as seperate policies or link the benefit (trauma, TPD and death) amount together.
A linked death with TPD policy will generally work out cheaper than taking out seperate TPD and death policies. However, in the event you need to make a TPD claim, your life benefit will be reduced the amount you claim unless the policy has a buy back option.
Is TPD insurance included in super?
TPD is offered with most default insurance funds
If you get super from your employer you'll likely have some form of insurance. Often, you'll get often get TPD insurance included. Other insurance products that you can obtain through superannuation funds include:
Term life insurance, or death cover
Income protection insurance
Is it a good idea to get TPD inside super?
There are a few pros and cons of getting TPD inside super.
Premiums are tax-deductible to a limit
Automatically deducted premiums so you can 'set and forget'
Eats into your retirement savings
Tougher approval process for claims than outside super
Own occupation definition unavailable
Yes. As long as the premiums are paid up there is nothing stopping you from claiming on more one or more TPD policies you hold through super.
Structuring your policy
There are two main things you'll need to decide on:
Do you just want TPD cover?
Are you buying cover inside or outside super?
A good way to decide on this is to look at what circumstances you want covered:
TPD inside super
TPD + Death cover
TPD + Income Protection
1. Disability stops working permanently including jobs related to your experience.
2. Disability stops working permanently from your specific role.
Yes if your policy has an 'own occupation' definition of TPD
Yes if your policy has an 'own occupation' definition of TPD
Yes if your policy has an 'own occupation' definition of TPD
3. Injury or illness stops you from working for a short period of time.
While TPD and income protection protects you in the event you're unable to work, they are different. TPD is focused on long-term disabilities, whilst Income Protection is designed for short-term disabilities.
TPD insurance premiums are only fully tax-deductible when the policy definition match the conditions of disability super benefit, under any occupation definition. If held under TPD own occupation definition, only a portion of your premiums are tax-deductible, at 67% and 80% when bundled with life insurance cover. Your TPD insurance proceeds may also be subject to tax when held inside superannuation, depending on whether you receive the benefit as a lump sum or monthly payments. Read more on the tax treatment of TPD insurance to get a full understanding.
How do I make a successful claim?
Understand what insurers look for during a claim time.
Definitions of permanent disability vary slightly between insurers, but you usually need to meet the insurers checklist. As a general example, an insurers checklist could look like this:
Checklist for payout
Minimum length of disability
6 months due to an injury or illness
You'll need to seek a sufficient amount of medical treatment and rehab for upwards of 6 months.
Medical certification provided to your insurer.
A least one medical practitioner certifies that you are totally and permanently disabled. Some insurers will also get a second opinion from their own medical professionals.
You meet the definition total and permanently disabled as set out in a policy. These vary between policies which are generally categorised as any occupation or own occupation. However, some insurers also offer home duties TPD and general TPD policies.
An exclusion is when an insurance company won’t return a benefit for a TPD claim due to personal factors you didn’t declare prior to your policy, or because of acts that void cover.
Instances include failing to declare pre-existing medical conditions or participating or participating in violence. Here’s a list highlighting circumstances where you won’t receive a payout under your TPD policy.
A. When determining how much TPD insurance you may need, the general rule of thumb is to take out coverage that is 10 times of annual salary. However, everyone is different so you should consider your own circumstances and obtain advice on the appropriate level of cover for you.
A. Yes, you can TPD cover onto your existing life insurance policy to have a more comprehensive coverage.
A. Taking out insurance through a superannuation fund is a common option, and if you have set up your own self-managed super fund then your fund can own your TPD policy. In the event of a claim, the benefit is paid to your self-managed super fund, and you must meet the guidelines for a superannuation TPD policy to allow you to withdraw the benefit payment before your retirement.
A. Depending on the policy you choose, you may be required to be unable to work because of an illness or injury for at least three to six months, before you start receiving any benefit payouts.
A. In most cases only intentional, self inflicted injuries will be excluded from receiving a successful claim payment.
A. When your policies are linked and you make a successful claim on your TPD policy, the benefit you receive will be deducted from your life insurance amount. If you don't want your life insurance to be affected by a TPD claim, you can choose a double TPD policy, a TPD buy-back benefit, or a stand alone TPD policy.
A. You can find TPD policies which will cover you for illnesses or injury you incur while you are travelling overseas, or living overseas for an extended period of time. Just make sure you check the conditions of your particular policy with your insurer.
Richard Laycock is Finder's insurance editor and has been wrangling insurance product disclosure statements for the better part of five years. His musings on insurance can be found across the web including on Money Mag, Yahoo Finance, and Travel Weekly. When he’s not helping Aussies make sense of insurance fine print, he is testing the quality of cocktails in his newfound home of New York. Richard studied Media at Macquarie University and The Missouri School of Journalism and has a Tier 1 Certification in General Advice for Life Insurance.
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