Reviewing your personal insurance policy: when, why and how

Insurance works best when you have the right level of protection for your situation and as your life changes, so might your insurance needs. You should consider reviewing your cover whenever your situation changes, like:

  • taking on a mortgage to buy a property
  • having children
  • getting married
  • upsizing or downsizing your home
  • getting a pay rise or take a pay cut
  • starting a business
  • experiencing a change in your health or lifestyle
  • paying off your mortgage
  • stopping supporting financially dependent children
  • joining a new super fund that may provide automatic insurance cover

These milestones mark important times to review your insurance, including the amount of cover you have and whether your beneficiaries (those who will receive your insurance in the event of your death) are up to date.

How to review your insurance:

Step 1: Read your insurance contract

Refer to your product disclosure statement (PDS) and read it to fully understand what you’re covered for (death, disability or injury for instance) and compare this against what you’d ideally like to be covered for.

Step 2: Check the insurance policy expiry date

Check if your insurance policy has an expiry date, and if so, make note of when it is so you’re not caught off guard. It can be a good idea to set yourself a reminder a month or two before it’s due so you can contact your insurance provider ahead of time.

Step 3: Know your beneficiaries

An insurance beneficiary is the person, or people, who will receive your insurance payout in the event of your death. It’s important to make sure your beneficiaries are up to date so your money ends up in the right hands.

Step 4: Check if you have enough insurance

To help you work out the right level of insurance cover consider the following questions.

  1. How much money would your family have if you were to pass away or become disabled? Consider the amount of money you have in super, savings, shares and other assets, and existing insurance policies as a starting point.
  2. How much money would your family need if you were to pass away or become disabled? Consider the size of your mortgage and any other debts you have, as well as other costs such as childcare, education and day-to-day expenses you may be covering.

The difference between these figures should provide some guidance on the amount of insurance cover you may want to have. However, you might need to compromise between what you’d like and can afford.

Step 5: See if you have any other insurance policies

Like many Australians, you may have insurance through super. So, it’s a good idea to check this against other policies you might have outside super.

Then compare your cover, check whether you have any insurance double ups – if you have more than one super account with the same type of insurance, you may be paying for more insurance than you need.

Something to note on your TSC (temporary salary continuance) insurance, you’ll most likely only be able to claim up to 75% of your pre-disability income, regardless of whether you have TSC cover within multiple super accounts.

Step 6: Compare insurance providers

If you’re not sure whether you’re getting the best deal, you might want to compare providers. Remember, there are other considerations to take into account aside from reduced premiums, such as what level of cover you get, any exclusions (like the treatment of pre-existing medical conditions) and waiting periods.

Also keep in mind if you do cancel your insurance, you might lose access to features and benefits, and you might not be able to sign back up at the same rate or with the same level of ease.

It’s also important to disclose your situation to your insurer honestly, or the policy might be invalid if you do need to make a claim.

Step 7: Reduce or manage your insurance premiums

If affordability is a major concern, speak to your super provider or insurer depending on what type of insurance you hold, to find out how you can manage your premiums without losing your policy. You might be able to:

  • reduce the amount you’re insured for
  • change how often you make a payment (If you don’t hold insurance inside super)
  • adjust your waiting and benefit periods.

Source: AMP

Ashley Collins