Tips to Help you Find the Best Life Insurance and Income Protection Policies for Your Situation
Buying life insurance is not like buying a set of golf clubs or a new car. Applicants can not simply flick through a magazine and base their decision of what they are told is the best product. Finding the best life insurance is a process of considering your own situation and how it may change into the future and then comparing policies against this criteria. The best policy is one that it tailored towards your needs and comes at a price reflective of the benefits and features provided. An Insurance Consultant can assist you through this process through their ability to compare hundreds of different policy options and find more competitive premiums than you may be able to.
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What is the Best Life Insurance?
The best life insurance is the life cover that matches your situation now and into the future. It is critical when comparing life policies to take the time to consider your own situation and needs and how that may change years ahead. This involves considering the number of dependents you have and how much you would need to maintain their standard of life if you were to pass away. In addition to the sum insured, you also need to consider the different built-in features and additional options you would like to tailor your policy with to keep you covered under certain events.
An evaluation of your needs will soon make it clear which life insurance type best suited to cover you during your different life stages.
Meeting Your Needs with the Best Life Insurance at All Life Stages
Steps to Compare Insurance Plans
An insurance provider that provides the best life insurance policy to one person, may not always be the same to others as people have different circumstances. The best life insurance plan* is the one which will have all of the inclusions which suit your needs and your family’s goals, and one which also suits your budget. To help you with this decision, consider the features you need and want, and how they will affect the cost and the type of policy you choose:
- The right amount of cover: It would be devastating to be paying life insurance premiums all of those years, only to find that the benefit the policy pays is not enough for your family to cover their bills and pay for their lifestyle. Therefore, a good rule of thumb to work out how much your life insurance plan benefits needs to be, is to choose a policy which is worth ten to thirteen times your annual income. If you are a stay at home parent or spouse, then your life insurance plan should cover the cost of hiring people to help run your household and look after your children.
- Additional coverage: You may also want a life insurance policy which covers more than your income, for example, a benefit which helps your family pay medical or funeral expenses after you die. You’ll also want to make sure your children can afford to go to the private school or the university you hoped they would, and that your family can pay out the mortgage so they don’t have to leave the family home.
- Your premiums are based on your age and 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.
- Life insurance and pre-existing conditions: Even if you are older or have a medical condition you can still find affordable life insurance cover. Some life insurance companies even specialise in insuring people with certain pre-existing conditions such as cancer survivors.
- 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. But, what if something happens to your child? Including a cover for your child onto your policy is vital to ensure financial support should they fall ill or die.
- Think about your living will: When you are organising a life insurance plan it is a good time to also think about what would happen if you didn’t die, but were unable to look after yourself. This is when you need to look at setting up a living will, which is also known as an advanced health care directive, and governs what you want to happen at the end of your life. For example, the document gives you the right to accept or refuse certain end of life care such as artificial respiration. You may also want to name an advocate or health care power of attorney who can make decisions on your behalf in a crisis if you are unable to do so yourself.
As you assess your needs for a life insurance plan, a good place to start looking for coverage is through your employer as they may be eligible for a low rate group policy by covering all of their employees. While this can be an affordable option you need to make sure you are still getting all of the features you need and want.
If you already have a life insurance policy, you should regularly review your insurance, as your needs can change to ensure you have the best coverage possible.
You can also benefit from these tips if you already have a life insurance policy, because you should regularly review your insurance, as your needs can change to ensure you have the best coverage possible. For example you may have gotten divorced or married, you may have paid off your mortgage, bought a more expensive house, had your parents move in with you or had your children move out of home and so you need to change your beneficiaries and maybe even your policy amount. You can update your life insurance policy by contacting your provider for a quote on the cost of the update, and take the time to shop around for a provider who would better suit your new needs.
|Term Life Insurance||Whole Life Insurance|
|Summary||Coverage for a specified period. Individual is only covered during periods they are paying premiums.||Individual is covered for life. Charged a fixed premium each year.|
|Length of Coverage||Coverage ends at specified age.||Lifetime coverage.|
|Benefit Amount||Customer chooses benefit amount when purchasing insurance. Will not change throughout term of coverage.||Customer chooses benefit amount when purchasing insurance. Ability to increase coverage at later stages.|
|Premiums||Considerably lower than whole life insurance when initially purchased. Premiums increase significantly into the future as individual reaches old age.||Premiums are usually the same at the beginning of the term as at the end. Some plans offer adjustable premiums, with payments decreasing as the individual ages.|
|Cash Value Received||Zero cash value.||Cash values can accumulate over time on a tax-deferred basis and be paid upon cancellation of plan.|
Term Life Insurance versus Whole of Life Insurance: Whats Best for You?
There are two main types of insurance policy you can choose from, and your choice will depend on your age, the amount of cover you want and how much you can afford to pay for your insurance.
The first type of life insurance to consider is term life insurance which covers you only during the period you are paying the premiums, for the specified term. There are three ways you can take out a term life insurance policy:
- Level term: With this policy you will pay a fixed premium for 10, 15 or 20 years which can be a financially sound option as your premiums are protected against the cost of inflation, and premiums won’t rise if you experience changes with your health either. At the end of the term you don’t make any more payments and your cover ceases, so you can insure yourself while your children are young and your mortgage is high, and cease the insurance as your commitments decrease.
- Annual renewable term: In this instance you can renew your policy regularly, but each time you renew the premiums will increase.
- Decreasing term: Over the course of this policy the death benefit will steadily decrease which can be useful as it costs you less over time, and as your commitments decrease, your children grow up and your house is paid off, you don’t need a benefit amount which is as large.
Just keep in mind that some less than reputable insurance companies will try and persuade you to sign up for universal or variable whole of life insurance, promising a high initial rate of return, and therefore lower annual premiums. Therefore, you need to be wary of any insurance company offering universal rates higher than the 30 year Treasury rate, where variable insurance is unlikely to beat returns of more than 10% to 12% a year.
However with the right whole of life insurance policy you can pay your premiums and accumulate savings and if you die your beneficiaries can cash out the policy, or you can cash out the policy to access the accumulation fund, or borrow against it. just remember that if you cash in your whole of life policy to access your accumulated funds your insurance usually becomes void – it is an insurance policy or an investment, it’s not both.
To help you choose between term life insurance and whole of life insurance, consider the pros and cons of each:
The benefits of term life insurance are:
- It is more affordable: Compared to whole of life insurance, term life insurance is much cheaper, because you are insuring yourself for just a set period of time, whereas whole of life insurance extends until retirement or death.
- It is easy to apply for: Term life insurance is easy to search for and buy as you simply need to decide on how much coverage you want, and the term you want to be insured for. Then you simply need to make sure that the insurer you choose is reputable and you’ve covered all of the variables of the policy.
- Meets an immediate but temporary need: There are times in your life when you have more financial responsibilities than others. For example, when your children are young, when there are a lot of school fees to pay for or when you have a new mortgage. It is at those times that your death would have the biggest impact on your family financially. Therefore, you can take out an affordable term life insurance policy to cover you during these periods when you really need it, and let the term end when your children leave home, or you’re able to access your retirement savings.
Just make sure you remember the drawbacks of term life insurance which are:
- The expiry date: When your term life insurance expires you are left without any coverage, and you have to reapply to extend the term. This means that at the end of the term you are older, you may be in worse health, and term life insurance can be more expensive to renew.
- You get nothing back if you outlive your policy: Of course it is a positive thing that you have survived your term life insurance and haven’t needed to make a claim; however, there is no getting back the thousands of dollars you would have paid over the term. At the same time though, it could help thinking about term life insurance in the same way you think about your car insurance – if you don’t make a claim you don’t get anything back at the end of the insurance period, but you’re still better off having coverage when you don’t need it, than not having coverage when you do need it.
Your other option is whole life insurance, which has the following benefits:
- Never expires: For as long as you pay your premiums you will have coverage, and since we are all going to die sometime, it can be reassuring to know that you have something to leave behind for your loved ones.
- Is enforced saving: Whole life insurance policies also come with an investment portion, which is one of the reasons why the premiums are more expensive than a term policy. A portion of your premiums each month goes into a savings account to build cash value for your policy. This can be especially useful if you are no good at saving because you can draw on the cash value amount, the amount you borrow simply reduces the amount of your death benefit.
- Can be used for estate planning: Whole life insurance can be used to avoid estate tax because the death benefit of a whole life insurance policy is tax free.
However, there are a few drawbacks you need to be aware of when comparing whole of life insurance:
- The cost: When you compare the costs of the premiums for whole life insurance to those for term life insurance for the same coverage amount, you will see a marked difference. Therefore, if you can’t afford to meet the premium payments, or you struggle financially to pay for your life insurance, you risk your policy lapsing with a missed or late payment.
- There are a lot of variables to compare: It can be difficult to know whether you are comparing apples with apples when it comes to choosing a whole life insurance policy, as each insurer has a different way of displaying the information about their investments and rates of return.
- Independent savings accounts often perform better: The fees and administrative costs of a whole life policy can quickly eat into the returns the investment portion of your policy is making. Therefore, you may be better off investing the difference in premiums in a dedicated high interest savings account.
Compare Insurance Terms: Tips to Choose the Right One
If you are looking to save some money on your life insurance policy you can start by looking at when and how long you actually need coverage. Customising the term of your life insurance policy can make your coverage more useful, relevant and affordable, but just make sure you are adjusting your insurance plan in the right places.
First look at the terms which are available as you can often choose from a term as short as five to 10 years which is usually long enough to allow you to get ahead on your mortgage, earn a raise in your job and have the kids grow out of some of the more expensive times in their life. Just remember that at the end of the term your policy is void, so you don’t want your life insurance term to expire before you’re ready. Usually you will have to renew a new term for your policy at a new higher premium rate, unless you look for a policy which has an option for renewal.
The cost of a term of life insurance depends on factors such as your age, your health, your lifestyle and your job, and before you can be approved for a policy you will need to complete a thorough questionnaire and undergo a thorough medical test. Therefore to find the best life insurance policy for your situation you will need to shop around for the best price, as not all providers view and assess risks in the same way.
Who is the Best Life Insurer in Australia?: Tips for Comparing Insurance Companies
Choosing the best life insurance for you is not just one simple formula, as it is not a type of product that has one-size-fits-all. So, is there such a thing as the best life insurer in the Australian market? The answer is no - the products and services that life insurers provide vary between providers and since people's requirements and needs will differ, certain features and benefits will often be more suitable to some people, but not others.
So, how do you determine which life insurance provider is the best one for you? Taking the time to consider which life insurance company is best for your coverage is a key element that is as important as choosing the right policy to ensure you and your family have the best coverage possible. There are hundreds of life insurance companies you can choose from, and you need to make your decision based on the following factors:
- Strength: Check the strength and credibility of a life insurance company you are considering before signing up, to make sure that they will be there for you when you need them, and that they will approve your claim. You can check the background information of an insurance company with the state insurance department.
- Credibility: Check with an insurance rating agency or the insurance department in your state to find out more about the background of an insurance company. You can also consult other customers and their agents.
- Finances: The financial situation of the insurance company is also important, and is based on the performance of the company’s stock, their profits and major business decisions the company has made. This information will tell you about the claims history of the company and how quickly they pay out their claims.
Feeling comfortable with a life insurance company is important, because you need to know that your family will receive a benefit payout if you die, and that you haven’t been paying all of those premiums for nothing. Unfortunately many people don’t take out life insurance because they don’t believe that their claim will be paid, as they’ve heard a horror story of an unscrupulous insurance company who scammed their customers.
However, a reputable insurance company, and one which you have research thoroughly and carefully, must honour a life insurance contract agreement and it has rules and obligations it must adhere to . No one else has an obligation to take care of your family and to avoid your family having to live on merge government handouts, make sure that you can continue to take care of your family with the best life insurance policy possible, even when you’re no longer around to look after them yourself.
Compare the Discounts and Benefits Offered by Insurance Companies
Each Australian insurance company 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.
- Multi 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.
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 providers:
The AIA Group has been established for over 90 years and now has a place as a market leader, holding over 23 million policies, which offer 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.
Compare Best Life Insurance* Policies if you have High Risk Occupation
Every job presents its own unique risks, however, there are some occupations which are classed as high risk for insurance purposes, and if you work in one of these high risk industries you may find it difficult or expensive, or both, to find life insurance. These high risk occupations could be especially dangerous, or could expose you to specific health risks, for example if you are a miner, a fire fighter or a skydiving instructor.
Therefore, to help you compare the life insurance policies available to find one which suits your high risk occupation, use the following tips:
- Compare widely: If you have a high risk occupation you will need to do a little more work in your comparisons to find the most affordable and comprehensive policy. 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.
- Search online: It will be faster and easier for you to compare insurance quotes if you do your searching online. You can do your research at any time of the day or night, and you can take your time to read through all of the terms and conditions, and carefully compare all of the options.
- Don’t pay too much: You may be resigned to the fact that you are a high risk applicant and therefore you have to pay higher insurance premiums. While this is true to a certain extent, this doesn’t mean you can’t compare the quotes you get and hold out for an affordable option.
- 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. Therefore, make sure you know exactly what is and isn’t covered, and that you have the cover you need.
- Unique features: There may be life insurance features which could uniquely benefit your particular high risk occupation. For example, if you work on an oil rig and are injured, is the cost of transport from the rig covered by your insurance?
Find Best Life Insurance* Coverage if you have Pre-existing Medical Conditions
It is also possible to find affordable and comprehensive life insurance coverage if you have a pre-existing medical condition. To help you find the best life insurance for your specific medical needs use the following tips:
- Know what you want from your life insurance: Think about the level of coverage you want from your life insurance, and why you need it in the first place. Do you simply want to provide a benefit pay out when you die, or do you want to be covered in case you fall ill again, with the same or a different medical condition.
- Shop around: You may need to take a little more time to compare insurance policies if you have a pre-existing condition, but this simply means you are taking the time to make careful and detailed comparisons to find the best policy, with the best inclusions at the best price.
- Work with an expert: If you don’t have the time, skills or knowledge to compare the range of life insurance policies out there, it can be beneficial to work with an insurance broker, who will have the inside track on the policies and insurers who cater to, and specialise in pre-existing conditions.
- Include a letter from your doctor: Have your doctor write you a letter which details your current medications and treatments, and attach this with your application. This will give the insurer all of the details they need to assess the level of risk your pre-existing condition poses.
- You’re not uninsurable: Remember that even if you have had cancer, a heart attack or other medical involvement in the past, it doesn’t mean you are uninsurable now. It simply means you need to put in a little more effort to locate those policies which are specifically tailored to your situation, as the insurance industry recognises that many people have pre-existing medical conditions, and policies are adapting as a result.
- 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, and if one insurer won’t cover your particular pre-existing condition, that doesn’t mean all other insurers will refuse you too.
- Don’t worry about the medical exam: In many cases, if you have a pre-existing condition, but you see your doctor regularly, you take all of your prescribed medication properly and you provide a letter from your doctor which includes all of these details, you may not be required to undergo additional medical tests to apply for life insurance.
Steps to Secure Best Life Insurance Policies
Trying to find and apply for the best life insurance may sound complicated, but following these simple steps can help secure the policy that matches your needs and requirements:
Best Life Insurance Tips: Dos and Don’ts
Following are some simple dos and don’ts to keep in mind as you compare and apply for life insurance, to help make sure you are getting the best deal for your needs:
If you want the best life insurance, do:
- Review your current policy regularly: Our lives change and move so fast that a policy you took out one, two or five years ago, may not suit your current needs, and the best life cover is the one which tailors perfectly to your requirements. Therefore, make sure you do review your life insurance policy every 12 months.
- Take out enough insurance to cover your expenses: Take the time to add up all of your debts, bills and other outgoings. This includes your mortgage, car loan, credit card debt and other bills, to make sure you are covered for the right amount.
- Avoid inheritance tax: If you put your life insurance policy in a trust, this ensures that any benefit payments made to your beneficiaries are not subject to inheritance tax, and your loved ones receive every dollar you wanted them to get. This process is free, and your insurer can provide you the necessary paperwork.
- Take out life insurance as soon as you can: As with most types of insurance, the older you are, the more expensive life insurance is, so when you see a good deal on life insurance, make sure you take advantage of it sooner rather than later.
If you want the best life insurance, make sure you don’t:
- Accept the policy offered by your home loan provider: If your home loan provider requires that you take out life insurance to be approved for your loan, don’t accept the policy they are offering as they can often inflate the prices of the policy to make more money from you. Instead, seek out your own independent quotes.
- Forget 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.
- Forget 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.
- Choose joint life insurance: The cost advantages of joint life insurance have disappeared in recent years, and it can therefore be more affordable to take out a separate policy, rather than put you and your partner on the same policy. Plus, with separate policies, you are able to keep your policy if your partner dies.
Finding the "Best Life Insurance Policy" is not simply a matter of comparing a few quotes and selecting the option offering the lowest monthly premium. It requires each buyer to consider their own situation and take the time to research the different policy options relevant to their needs. An Insurance specialist can assist you throughout this process by comparing multiple policies at once and clearly explaining the different policy features and benefits available. Applicants should remember that taking out life insurance and income protection is one of the greatest financial commitments that they will make in their lives and as such, should be a decision that is made with great care.