This post is generously sponsored by Firths,The Compensation Lawyers. It does not constitute legal or financial advice and you should always seek expert, personal assistance when deciding on your financial matters.
Economic independence has always been important to me. I found employment the moment I was old enough to hold a job. I remember my first pay cheque and the extraordinary realisation that I had the capacity to support myself. There was empowerment in that moment. It may have been all of $50 but I felt the richest person in the world.
Fast forward to marriage and children and my attachment to economic independence has taken a back seat to the needs of my family. The day my last maternity leave payment came through and our income shrank back to the size of a sole-bread winner was sobering.
What is even more sobering is the thought of my husband being unable to support us.
Economic independence means different things to different people at different stages. At this stage in my life, it means maintaining the capacity to earn a full-time wage in my chosen career by freelancing. At some stage I will head back to the full-time workforce and I want to ensure I can re-enter where I jumped off. It also means ensuring that my family would be looked after should something terrible happen to either my husband or myself.
No-one wants to contemplate an early demise or an accident that renders you incapable of working. But bad things happen whether you are prepared for them or not. I may not be the bread winner in our family right now, but I can still be a part of looking after our family financially.
So I’m keeping myself informed about what cover we do have, where our gaps might be and, importantly, how to access that cover should we ever need to.
What does Super cover?
Most superannuation funds have both a life insurance component and total and permanent disablement (TPD) cover. This is general, group cover and doesn’t take into account your personal circumstances. This means that you don’t need a medical but it also means that the sum is likely to be less than personalised life or income protection insurance. It’s worth checking your Superannuation policies and seeing how much your family is entitled to and whether you believe it to be sufficient for your needs. It’s also worth checking who is listed as the beneficiary.
What does life insurance cover?
You agree with your insurer on an amount (the benefit) to be paid to your beneficiary on the event of your death. There are extenuating circumstances where the amount would not be paid – things like suicide, fraud and war. The amount is determined by you and your premiums will reflect the amount chosen. Life insurance can be taken out whether you are engaged in paid work or not. Some people who work exclusively within the home and care for children take out life insurance as their death would result in substantial child and home care costs for the living spouse.
What does income protection cover?
Income protection insurance covers you for lost earnings if you are unable to work. These policies usually pay up to 75% of your income for a minimum of two years. The length of time will depend on your policy.
How do you access funds?
The first point of call is to make a claim with your insurer and/or superannuation fund. They will send you a claims kit and ask you for certain information and documentation. You will be assigned a claims officer and they will assess your claim and ask for more information if necessary. Once all the information is gathered, a decision will be made regarding your claim.
Who can help you if you cannot access funds or you aren’t sure what you have available to you?
If life were easy and fair, insurance claims would be always paid and honoured. Actually, if life were easy and fair, you probably wouldn’t need insurance at all. But we know that’s not how life works.
Sometimes you need help to access the funds you paid for. You might need help challenging a declined claim. You may not be entirely sure of all of your entitlements. You might need a hand to navigate a legal puzzle. You might be unsure of how varying claims will affect each other.
It’s at this point that you want to see a lawyer. Someone who is familiar with the insurance landscape and is sensitive to your situation can be a real help. Some law firms like Firths, The Compensation Lawyers, specifically deal with insurance claims.
When choosing a firm to help you with your claim, you will want understand how they bill, whether they can resolve your matter in a timely way and whether they have a proven track record. You will also want to choose a firm that is sensitive to your situation and treats you gently and respectfully as a person in grief, rather than a client number.
I know it’s not fun to think about these things. But I am also a realist. And I’d rather know how to navigate these waters right now, then trying to figure it out in the thick of grief.
note: I received payment to write this post. Thoughts and opinions are my own.