Monday, December 14, 2015

Tips to save money on your insurance #3

3. Review your insurance regularly.

Once you have insurance in place, its vital that you take the time to review your cover regularly. At Spratt Financial, our policy is to conduct annual reviews of our clients' insurance along with them to ensure that they really are getting the best insurance for them.

Things naturally change in life. Life changes can hugely affect what you need out of your insurance and what you need protected. Taking the time to review and not being afraid to make adjustments as necessary is crucial to getting the best deal on your insurance. As a guideline, you should try to review your insurance when the following events happen in your life:

- Getting married or divorced, or entering into a civil union.
- Having a child.
- Taking out a new mortgage or a significant debt.
- Paying off a mortgage or making significant progress to doing so.
- Beginning to take care of a friend or relative.
- Getting a new job or a raise.

Looking at these events can give you a good guideline as to when you should be reviewing your insurance cover. Even if you don't end up saving money on premiums, you can be more assured that your insurance will be covering your real current circumstances. That could save you a ton in the long run.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Tips to save money on your insurance. #2

2. Consider your waiting period and/or excess.

Waiting Period: Increasing the waiting period on your insurance cover is one way to lower the cost of your insurance. The waiting period is the amount of time you must wait after fulfilling the conditions of your insurance before being eligible for the claim payment. For instance, with a 6 week wait on an income protection policy, you will have to wait 6 weeks after stopping work to become eligible for your claim payments.  The higher your waiting period, the more discounts you will get on your insurance premiums. Therefore, if you have sufficient savings to cover the wait period if something unfortunate does happen, a higher waiting period can be a great idea for savings in the long term.

Excess: For certain types of insurance like fire and general or medical insurance, you can select a higher excess to achieve the same savings. An excess is the amount of costs or damages that you must cover on your own before your insurance kicks in to cover the rest. A $1000 medical insurance excess means that you will pay the first $1,000 of any medical procedure you need and your insurance will cover the rest. We recommend taking a balanced approach between saving on premiums and having an affordable excess if something happens, but if you're taking a long term approach, increasing your excess can be a good move.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Tips to save money on your insurance. #1

The experienced insurance team at Spratt Financial Services has a number of tips to help you save money on your insurance, whether you have existing policies or you're looking to get insured:

1. Make sure your sum assured is not unnecessarily high.

Selecting the amount of insurance you need is one of the most crucial areas that people need to spend more time considering. It can often be too tempting to just pick a round figure that you assume is correct for your needs and go with it. When we give advice to new clients, we take the time in helping them go through their debts, their needs and what exactly they need provided for. Let's say you discover that you need $150,000 of life cover to adequately cover your debts. By doing this instead of blindly selecting say $200,000, you've instantly saved a considerable amount on premiums. Picking the amount that you need and then revising it as necessary as changes in your life occur is one of the best ways to be sure you're not spending too much on your insurance.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Insurance Advice and Tips

Insurance works best when it is used as the foundation for a plan that will protect a business, family or estate that is confronted by the disablement process. If you already have an insurance package (or you're looking for insurance) and you want to know whether your insurance will really be sufficient for your needs, here are the questions you should know the answers to:

1. What Will You Need The Cover For?
We recommend that you grab a pen and paper and write down what your insurance claim proceeds will need to be used for when it is paid out. If you can't do this now before tragedy strikes then you may be facing trouble later. Having this list in place can give you a reminder of where the money needs to go when it comes time to claim. With insurance, it's always better to be safe than sorry. 

2. Will You Be Able To Claim Soon Enough?
Life Insurance pays out in the event of actual or impending "medical death". However, in 94% of cases in New Zealand, deaths are due to medical conditions not accidents. 65% are these are due to degenerative medical conditions such as cancers, heart disease and strokes which can kill slowly over what may be an extended period of time. During this time, unable to work and unable to support yourself, your family or your business, you will be facing tremendous financial strain which your insurance may not cover for. Will the bank or your creditors wait until you are terminally ill before your life insurance cover pays out? This is perhaps the most crucial consideration to take into account when assessing your insurance. We can help you ensure that you are fully covered financially in the face of these worrying statistics as unfortunately, basic life cover is most of the time, simply not sufficient.

3. Is The Sum-Assured of Your Insurance Enough?
It may sound strange, but a $250,000 insurance claim may not be enough to repay a $250,000 debt. You may have additional interest payments, penalties for being in arrears and you may need to pay a Solicitor, Trustee or your Accountant to carry out these transactions for you. It is crucial that you set your sum assured at the right amount to cover your debt and provide adequately for your family and dependants should something happen to you. Take into account all factors, costs and if necessary, talk to us and we can help you find the amount you need.

4. Do You Have The Right Insurance?
If you have income protection insurance - do you have the right kind? If you have health insurance - what does your health insurance actually cover and what do you need it to? If you have permanent disability or critical illness insurance - how are these insurances structured within your overall portfolio of insurance and how will they work if something happens to you? The bottom line is, you need to figure out what risks you are most likely to face, take into account your lifestyle and your financial situation and then select the right insurance to meet your individual needs. This is why it's so important to have robust insurance advice from insurance professionals like us - we can find out what's right for you. Sometimes having the wrong kind of insurance is almost as bad as having no insurance at all.

5. Are You Making Assumptions About Your Insurance?
Making assumptions about your insurance without proper and solid research and planning is always a mistake. Even assuming that you or someone close to you will be physically, mentally and emotionally capable of applying the claim proceeds to your predetermined targets is not supported by our experience of dealing with over 200 insurance claims. Question everything, and get a second opinion from insurance professionals to make sure you've got it right.

6. What Should You Do?
We recommend that you use experienced professional advisers to not only design and review the underlying plan, but to execute it and carry out the tasks they are best suited to handle. If you don't have a plan now, prepared with clear-headed purpose, then any insurance you do have may well be insufficient or not adequately fit to your unique needs. Remember that if in doubt, you can always use our experienced professionals if you need guidance or advice - our service is completely free and no obligation, so you have nothing to lose!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Insurance Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Spratt Financial Services presents our new and updated list of the most common insurance questions we receive and our answers to them. 

1. Do I really need risk insurance?

Health Insurance: Although it may seem easy to adopt a standpoint of ‘it won’t happen to me’ as it relates to insurance, it is an unfortunate statistical fact that you will require hospitalisation, surgery or medical procedures at some point in your life, in many cases more than once. Within the current medical system, the only way to ensure that you and your family will receive the treatment you need promptly and without throwing your finances into turmoil is by taking out health insurance.
Life Insurance: If you are the breadwinner of your family, or you want to make sure your loved ones are supported in the event of your passing, some form of life insurance is a necessity. Unless you have an extremely significant amount of savings to cover all of your debt and provide for your dependants as long as they will require, we believe that you should always have a life insurance policy in place. The risk is not worth taking.

Income Protection and Disability Insurance: People sometimes operate under assumptions that severe illness will result in recovery or a relatively quick passing away. Unfortunately, that is most often not the case. The large proportion of cases of serious illness (heart attack, strokes, cancer etc) result in a protracted period of physical disablement, during which time you will be unable to work and maintain the income necessary to cover your expenses - which will not be on hold until you to get better! This is why income protection and/or permanent disability cover can be essential if your family depends on your income to maintain their way of life. With the right cover, you can have the peace of mind that your income will be maintained in the event that tragedy strikes.

Key Person Insurance: If you run a business and your business prosperity relies on several key employees or directors, key person insurance is a very good idea. It will provide compensation for their loss if they are disabled through illness or injury and support your business financially until an adequate replacement is found and the business is back on its feet. In some instances, proper key person insurance can be the difference between a business surviving or having to shut down.

Although cover may seem unnecessary from a short sighted mindset
, the alternative of having to bear the burden of excessive treatment expenses, leaving your family without a solid income or unable to maintain their life in the event of your passing makes the cost of premiums a small price to pay.

2. What types of insurance can you provide?

Spratt Financial Group can offer all types of risk insurance for both individuals and businesses/corporations, no matter what the size. This includes: 
  • Life Insurance
  • Medical/Health Insurance
  • Trauma Insurance
  • Income Protection and Redundancy Cover
  • Mortgage Protection Insurance
  • Key Person Insurance Cover
  • Total Permanent Disablement Insurance
Spratt Financial Group can also provide a full range of fire and general insurance, including home, contents, vehicle insurance, business stock/vehicle/building insurance, pet insurance, travel insurance and liability cover.

3. I can't afford every type of insurance - which ones are most important?

For most people, it is simply unfeasible financially to have every possible form of risk insurance available. As such, it becomes a question of discerning which ones are most important for you to have. The answer to this will differ based on your personal situation and our team can discuss this with you more fully at any time if you wish. However, in most circumstances, we recommend at least a basic combination of medical insurance (to insure that any medical procedures you need are covered) and life insurance (to provide for your dependants if something should happen to you). If you have room for more in your personal budget, trauma insurance and/or income protection can provide you with good peace of mind if you were to suffer a protracted illness that renders you unable to earn a living.

4. Are there any cheaper forms of risk insurance?

If you are looking to save money on your insurance, there are certain more specific and less costly options available to you. For example, if you cannot afford a full income protection policy, redundancy cover is a cheaper alternative (although it will only cover your lost income due to being made redundant). Another less expensive option is mortgage repayment insurance, which will cover your mortgage payments if you are disabled and cannot earn an income. As you can see, these are more specific forms of insurance, but they do come with considerable savings in premiums compared to regular income protection or trauma insurance policies. 

5. Are there any other options to save money on my insurance?

Yes there are. Spratt Financial Services can offer you many avenues to save money on your insurance. Firstly, with our healthy relationship with New Zealand's top insurance providers, we can often negotiate better deals for your cover than you will find alone. Also, many people can end up paying more than they need to be for their insurance by not having the right sum assured or the right type of cover for them altogether. Our insurance brokers will take the time to find out your personal circumstances and secure the right cover for you at the lowest prices available.

6. Health Insurance: Which type of Health Cover is best?

The primary benefits of having health or medical insurance are guaranteed protection from the risk of having to pay for your own treatment, as well as obtaining the best possible care with the least amount of delay or stress. In general, for most cases, a hospital and surgical combined with a tests and specialist policy will provide you with a basic and effective level of cover. We also specialise in more specific insurance plans covering optical and dental expenses, and also routine GP visits and checkups. As to which specific plan is the best for you, there are a number of variables which our advisers are more than capable of explaining personally in a thorough and understandable way. Feel free to get in touch with us and we can talk you through the options that are best for you.

7. Health Insurance: Are there alternatives to Health Insurance?

Not really. Although it may be tempting to think that you could save the money you would normally pay into a medical insurance policy for possible future use, the levels of medical inflation means that an investment would need to grow at an unrealistic rate to keep up. Obviously there is a chance that you could go through your entire life without ever making a claim (which would be a good thing) but there's also the possibility that you need to make several significant claims.

8. Trauma Insurance: Which medical conditions will allow me to claim?

In our experience, many New Zealanders who have trauma insurance could make a substantial claim which could help their finances tremendously and are unaware that they qualify. Your trauma insurance policy will tell you exactly what claim you are entitled to and which conditions will make you eligible. For the most specific list of these conditions, please consult your policy wordings. A list of conditions could include:

Cancer (including malignant tumors), angioplasty, aortic surgery, cardiomyopathy, coronary artery bypass surgery, heart attacks, cardiac arrest, alzheimer's disease, coma, dementia, encephalitis, major head trauma, meningitis, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, stroke, paralysis and loss of functionality, loss of hearing, loss of sight, loss of speech, loss of use of limbs, advanced diabetes, liver failure, lung disease, renal failure, HIV, major burns, major transplant surgery.

If you're unsure what these conditions entail or if you qualify, you can ask us anytime and we'll be happy to help.

9. Which Insurer provides the best Health or Life Insurance policy?

The answer to this question will vary depending on your own personal needs from your insurance plan. There are a number of factors which need to be taken into account when choosing a provider. Every company is slightly different in the way that it structures its cover. For instance, some companies base their premiums on the age of the youngest adult covered, some have ‘per-child’ premiums, whilst others have a flat rate no matter how many children are covered.  Companies also differ in the way they process claims for procedures (health insurance) or in the event of the policy holder's death (life insurance). This is why the service we provide can be so beneficial to you, as our knowledge of each company is unmatched, and taking your personal situation into account, we can quickly and easily find the best insurance option for you.

10. Should I choose an excess?

Adding an excess to your policy can have practical benefits in the long run, as most companies offer a discount on the monthly premium for doing so. This saving, over time, can add up to a significant total over the course of several years. Furthermore, it is an unfortunate fact that premiums will continue to increase over time. Adding an excess is one of the options we can provide you in order to mitigate these increases, keeping your insurance costs manageable and saving you money.

11. What if I need to make a claim?

We pride ourselves in providing the best and most comprehensive claims service in the country. We know that the paperwork and procedures involved in claims can be burdensome, especially during your most stressful times. Fortunately, you can leave all your claims in our capable hands and we will get you the results you need in the quickest and easiest way possible for you. We promise that with us, your insurance claim will be as easy and stress free as possible.

12. How much will my insurance premiums increase over time?

This will depend on the choice of company, and will be taken into account in our initial consultation with you. Some have age-related premiums increasing each year, whereas others calculate premiums on five year age bands. Regardless of how often these age-related increases are applied, you can expect to receive an increase every year or so to reflect higher than expected claims (company wide rather than specific to you) or to take the rise in medical costs into account. Factors that contribute to higher claims costs include:
  • Restricted access to public health care.
  • New medical technology (more costly to provide).
  • An aging population (with higher average claims amounts).
  • Rising medical inflation (increasing consultation, treatment and equipment costs).
Increasing premiums are a necessary fact of life in terms of insurance, however we can provide several strategies in order to lessen these costs. These strategies can include adding an excess, shifting insurance providers or making policy adjustments, always ensuring your best interests are our top priority.

13. I'm applying for insurance - do I need to remember details of my medical history?

It is necessary that you can recall as much as you can of your significant medical history. The main thing when completing an application for insurance is to disclose as much as possible of any past medical treatment or consultations. Failure to do so could impact claims on your insurance policy.

14. How do I get started?

For more information on how Spratt Financial's team of insurance brokers can assist with managing your insurance programme, use our contact form here or contact us by email at You can also call us any time at 09 307 8200. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Finance News Round Up

Some simple tips on how to improve your finances, including keeping a monthly spending diary, properly organising your bank accounts for financial efficiency and taking an honest look at your mortgage and how it can be improved.

Forecasting tools originally used for insurance are forecasting a 44.3% chance of the All Blacks winning the Rugby World Cup.

Travel insurance company is gearing up to receive hundreds of travel insurance claims from Kiwis travelling in the UK for the World Cup. One insurance company estimated the cost at being flown back to NZ by air ambulance in case of a severe emergency to be verging on $100,000.

Southern Cross has registered a $5.8 million surplus, recovering from a $1.1 million deficit last financial year. They have also come out in favour of a 25% rebate for members over 65.

5. Insurer launches new marine liability product. - Insurance Business Online 

This new product will simplify things for marina operators and ship builders/repairers by no longer forcing these businesses to buy two standalone liability policies.

6. NZ Dollar hanging in there despite doom forecasts. -

Roger J Kerr states that the NZ dollar is showing many traits of the conquering All Blacks rugby team by hanging in there against the USD despite numerous forecasts to the contrary.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Medical Insurance Special Offer

Spratt Financial and Southern Cross are proud to offer new clients a special deal so that you can get the medical insurance you need. A lot of people struggle with getting medical insurance for their pre-existing conditions. With this deal, once your policy has been in place for three years, nearly all types of pre-existing conditions will be covered! Better yet, we have been able to obtain additional discounts to make medical insurance even more cost-effective.

Features of this offer are as follows:
  •             Pre-existing medical conditions will be covered after three years*
  •             Receive a 10% discount off your first year’s premiums
  •             Receive an additional 10% Healthy Lifestyle Discount – if eligible
  •             A further 2.5% discount for payment with Direct Debit
  •             This gives a total 22.5% discount on first year’s premium and 12.5% discount thereafter

This offer closes 30th September 2015, so take advantage of this fantastic opportunity, you can contact us by email here or through our website's easy contact form.

*A few Chronic Conditions may be excluded, which we can discuss with you. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

How to improve your mortgage situation.

Is your current bank offering you the best interest rates or cash contributions?

People are using mortgage brokers more than ever before and for some very good reasons. Whether it’s for a refinance of your existing home loan, a new purchase or looking for a way to get debt free faster, a mortgage broker can save you time and money by shopping around for the best deals – and at no cost to you. Currently interest rates are at record lows and could possibly fall further – but are you getting the benefits? 

Also we always suggest you need a simple plan to pay off debt at a reasonable rate, achieve your personal goals and protect your lifestyle. In the business world, a study in 2010 showed that those who completed business plans were nearly twice as likely to successfully grow their businesses or obtain capital as those who didn’t write a plan

The choice at the end of the day financially is either do it all yourself or seek help from a specialist broker who can help you plan and add value. Our services to you in this regard are completely free and no-obligation. This means that you have absolutely nothing to lose! 

What we can do for you:

  • Re-finance your mortgage at terms that work better for your current situation.
  • Help build a plan to pay off your mortgage quicker and achieve your financial goals.
  • Obtain a new home loan at the best possible terms.
  • Suggest debt reduction strategies and get the burden of debt off your back.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The History of Insurance

Insurance as a concept has been around as long as humankind in some form or fashion. Insurance at its core is about the distribution and management of risk, and as thinking animals, man has been doing so for thousands of years. Whether it was hunting in a group to minimise risk of injury or splitting vital goods among different carriers on a dangerous trail through the wild, both things are at their essence about the distribution of risk. They are 'insurance'.

As a more formal enterprise involving money, insurance has been with us since the ancient world. The 1750 BC Babylonian Code of Hammurabi included reference to a debtor not having to repay a loan if some horrendous unforeseen event should befall them. These events included natural disasters, disability or death. Early Mediterranean naval merchants received loans to fund their shipments. When they did so, the merchants paid the lender an additional fee in exchange for a guarantee from the lender to cancel the loan if some woe should befall their shipment at sea.

The ancient enscription of the 'Code of Hammurabi'.

In medieval Europe, insurance was carried out in the guilds. The guilds with more money behind them set aside coffers of gold and currency that were used as an insurance fund. If a guild member's house burned down or they were robbed, the guild would compensate them using money from this fund. If a master was disabled or killed, this fund would go to support their widow and any family they may have left behind. In this way, the guilds offered forms of home insurance and life insurance.

The first known insurance contract was from Genoa in 1347 AD, and from there maritime insurance developed widely, including contracts that had scaled costs based on the differing risks of certain routes and voyages. Moving into the enlightenment and Early Modern Europe, the process of underwriting first came to be. Wealthy investors and those who wished to invest would take on responsibility for certain ship's cargo in voyages to the new world. If that cargo were lost or destroyed, refunding would be their financial responsibility. In exchange, these investors (the first underwriters) would be promised a share of the riches, crops or precious metals the voyages discovered in the Americas (which were believed to be teeming with them). The main appeal for these underwriters was the acquisition of new world tobacco.

Tobacco was just as addictive in the Early Modern Era, as it motivated the first underwriters to 'insure' voyages to the Americas.

Formalised property insurance came into being in the aftermath of The Great Fire of London in 1666. The unprecedented devastation of the fire was estimated to have claimed the properties of up to 70,000 of the city's 80,000 population. Groups of the underwriters mentioned previously, who had up until this point only dealt in maritime insurance, began to see the need for fire insurance, so they formed companies and offered to the general public at a price (the 'premium'). The development of insurance was also contributed to by the development of mathematics. The Frenchman Blaise Pascal discovered a numerical way to express probabilities, and this was applied to risk of certain events. In the wake of this discovery, it became possible to assess and give costs to various categories of risk based on their prevalence or probability of occurring. This is why today, when you go to purchase life or health insurance, your premiums will be higher if you are older or in more infirm health (you present a higher probability or 'risk' of a claim).

Whilst the insurance business began to thrive in Europe, overseas it was a different matter. In America especially, colonial life was deemed to be far too fraught with risk for any prospective insurer to even touch, lest they find themselves rapidly bankrupt. As a result, it took almost a century for insurance to become widespread in America after its initial colonisation. When it finally did however, more recent developments from Europe were incorporated into its design. At this time, all the hallmarks of modern insurance were in place and whilst insurance continues to change and develop to this day with the technology and the times, the core bedrock remains the same.

It's safe to say that insurance will always be part of society in one way or another. The process of distributing and managing risk seems to be engrained into our social being and our rational minds, as does the desire for profit and protection which informs both sides of the insurer/policy holder relationship.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Bali volcanic ash sends crucial message about travel insurance.

Mount Raung in Bali has recently erupted, spewing tons of volcanic ash into the air and wreaking havoc on flights. The eruptions began on June 29th, and their impact has been felt on unfortunate travellers trying to get home for over two weeks now. Those with comprehensive travel insurance, purchased before the cut-off date, will likely find their accomodation, transport and meal costs reimbursed. Those without it find themselves in a sticky situation - having to pay the costs out of their own pocket. Many of these unfortunate travellers will have budgeted on their trip lasting the planned length of time and will be left considerably out of pocket by the eruption.

Impatient travellers wait for flights out of Bali.

Estimates show that 40% of Kiwis that travel to Bali on a weekly basis have no travel insurance. Those who were stranded there could be facing thousands in unexpected costs that could hugely affect their finances and life (after all, lots of us don't have huge cash reserves behind us for a rainy day). 

The lingering Bali ash saga sends a clear message that we all need to be more vigilant about our travel insurance and going without is probably a risk that's not worth taking. I myself discovered this fact on a trip to the United States where my connecting flights were cancelled and I found myself stranded in Los Angeles for two extra days waiting for a new flight home. Being covered ended up saving me close to $1,000 in flight alteration costs and extra accomodation. Those stranded in Bali face far worse due to this lingering and unexpected natural disaster. A secondary message from the disaster is that the lower costs of a basic policy may be tempting, but a comprehensive option may be worth the extra investment. Those with just basic cover stuck in Bali may only receive limited reimbursement, if any.

For those that do have a comprehensive travel insurance policy and face delays while overseas, it's crucial that you get everything possible in writing. This includes confirmation of delays or cancellations from the airline, transport receipts, hotel bills and meal receipts. If in any doubt at all, get it in writing. Also, read your policy carefully (including the fine print) and know exactly what you're covered for before you make decisions so that you won't face any unexpected surprises on your return home.

If you have any questions about travel insurance and what's the best option, you can talk to our travel insurance experts at Hood Insurance Brokers. Above all, be vigilant, know the conditions and be safe. Take the smaller cost of insurance beforehand just to be safe. Travel policies also cover far more than unexpected delays, including lost luggage, theft and medical costs while overseas.

Hood Insurance Brokers: A member of Spratt Financial Group.
A member of Spratt Financial Group.

Financial News (July 2015)

Spratt Financial Group - Breaking News

1. Dunedin flood insurance bill found to be $28 million. - Radio NZ News

When South Dunedin experienced 3 months worth of rain in a single day, the damage was extensive. There were 2,000 domestic claims and 170 claims for damaged vehicles with claims totalling $28 million.

2. Westpac loosens apartment lending rules. - Good Returns

Changes have been made to make things easier for borrowers and first home buyers, by increasing the LVR maximum from 80% to 85% with certain conditions and limitations.

3. Options discussed to improve Kiwisaver. - Good Returns

Options are being discussed at a workshop on IRD's annual kiwisaver day on August 10th. Many proposed initiatives include better education for the general public about the key positive features of kiwisaver  as well as ensuring savers are in the most beneficial choice of fund.

4. Advice: Being vigilant about financial abuse. - Fisher Funds (NZ Herald)

Financial abuse can happen, from both untrustworthy advisers and fund managers as well as from members of one's own family. People are urged to be vigilant about who they trust with their money and look out for members of their own family when they make big financial decisions.

5. Expert: Financial skills among the general public prove to be poor. - NZ Herald

Whilst most people are good at looking after their money on a daily basis, they tend to make poor decisions for their future, according to a financial advice expert.

6. Kiwis see economic issues as the biggest problem for NZ. -

44% of surveyed New Zealanders declared economic issues as the biggest problem facing the country. A growing 14% of Kiwis also view the housing shortage as the greatest concern (up 4% from March 2015 figures).

7. Auckland housing market 'continues to go mad' - NZ Herald

In the wake of Labour's controversial release of housing data highlighting the possible impact of foreign investors, Auckland's property market continues to increase 10 times faster than the remainder of the country according to the most recently released data.

Spratt Financial Group - Insurance, Investment and Lending
For Insurance, Investment and Lending Service visit our official website here.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Staying Healthy: The Health Benefits of Sleep

Our staying healthy series aims to give you helpful tips and advice to keep you in tip-top shape, because staying healthy is an insurance policy all of its own. In previous additions we have discussed how to reduce stomach fat, general weight loss tips and if chocolate can help prevent obesity and diabetes. In this installment, most people already know that we need sleep. But sleep (and the right amount of sleep) has even more practical benefits to your health than you think.

1. Improving Memory.

Sleep is crucial to processing and consolidating information in your mind, which is why a good night's sleep before a test or exam is often a far better idea than burning the midnight oil studying. Studies have shown that if you're trying to learn something, a good night's sleep is crucial to keeping your precise mental functioning intact.

2. Improving weight issues.

Research conducted by the University of Chicago found that subjects that were well rested lost considerably more fat whilst on a diet than subjects that were sleep-deprived. The subjects in the first category lost approximately 56% than the sleep-deprived group. The same areas of the brain are responsible for both sleep and metabolism, so good sleep can help maintain a healthy and not excessive appetite.

3. Sleep can reduce stress.

Sleep refreshes your mental processes and regulates the level of hormones in your body, both of which can become askew through considerable stress during a hard day. It also provides better control of your blood pressure. Health experts recommend attempting to get into a routine of going to sleep and awakening at around the same time each night, whilst giving yourself some wiggle room for a late night or two every once in a while. If you are over-stressed, do your utmost to get yourself a good night's sleep.

4. Sleep lowers your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

A somewhat shocking study investigated the effects of disturbing the sleep patterns of 10 previously healthy young adults with shift work. After only four days, three out of 10 had blood glucose levels that would qualify them as pre-diabetic. Many other studies have testified to good sleep lowering the risk of heart disease and heart attacks over the long term.

5. Improving reaction times/preventing accidents.

A bad night's sleep or, even worse, no sleep at all, is the equivalent of one or more alcoholic beverages in terms of its impact on your driving. Lack of sleep means that your reaction times are slowed and your decision making is impaired. In the Unites States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration found in 2009 that tiredness accounted for the highest proportion of fatal single car crashes, even higher than alcohol. For the safety of yourself and other road users (as well as avoiding vehicle insurance problems) a good night's sleep is essential.

Sleep affects almost every tissue in your bodies, including hormones, your immune system, your appetite, blood pressure and the health of your heart. A good sleep schedule maintained well is crucial for your functioning, and will definitely help you in staying healthy.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The hidden benefits in your life insurance policy.

Many of us have insurance policies, but not many of us know just how much we can get out of the policies we already have. What many people do not know is that there may be clauses in your policy that allow you to react to changes in your life to become better protected than you are. Having to make changes to your cover or getting new insurance entirely can be an onerous procedure. It can be more than a bit of a chore having to fill out application forms and go and have blood and medical tests.

Even so, there are times when making changes to your insurance is necessary and extremely beneficial. For instance, to cover an increase in borrowing for your business, doing renovations, taking out a home loan or covering a new addition to your family. Changes can be necessary sometimes, but the hoops you have to jump through to make them can often deter people from making them. But if you didn’t have to go through all the forms, paperwork and medical screenings, it could be a lot more tolerable.

Excessive forms and screenings do not have to be an obstacle to changing your life cover.

The good news is that in your current life policy there very well could be built in guarantees that allow you to increase your cover by certain amounts, without having to supply current medical information, in the event of specified events such as:

·         Having a child (by birth or legal adoption).
·         Becoming married or entering into a civil union.
·         Becoming divorced or the dissolution of a civil union.
·         Financially supporting a dependent child through a first course of full-time tertiary education.
·         Taking out or increasing a home loan.
·         Becoming responsible for the full-time care or payment for long-term care of a close relative;
·         The death of a spouse or partner.
·         Significant salary increase of 10% or more, at least $20,000.

If you have gone through any of these changes recently, then updating your insurance coverage might be an easy task, as well as a necessary one. Take a close look at your policy wordings or give us a call any time, and we can have a look at your existing policies and give you a summary of what you can do to get the most out of your insurance.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Breaking News (June 2015)

1. Do you have a plan for who will manage your money if you can't? - NZ Herald

If a family member suffers a severe illness or accident and can't continue to manage their affairs, you don't want legal wrangling and financial stress added to your burdens. It's always best to make sure you have a written plan and/or legal will in place so that you and your dependants will be okay if the worst happens.

2. AIA announces profit growth. - Good Returns

One of New Zealand's premier insurers has announced an underlying growth of 21% in profits for the year for the 12 months to November 30th 2014.

3. Self-driving cars: Insurers sceptical about impact on business. - Insurance Business Online

84% of business executives surveyed in the US did not expect the self-driving car to impact business until 2025 but are they ignoring the speed of a revolution? Industry insiders saying Self-driving vehicles could completely revamp the structure of Vehicle Insurance worldwide.

4. Humor: Insurance Fraudster tries to cash in a claim on a fake dead cat. - Insurance Business Online.

An American man has demanded an escalating amount in successive claim requests for emotional damage inflicted by the death of his cat in a car accident. The problem: There is no such cat and the pictures he supplied were of two different cats from Google.

5. Average Auckland house price up $100,000 in a year, but available listings down. -

Auckland housing boom continues as New Zealand's largest real estate agency sold a record number of houses in May, showing no sign of the usual winter downturn.

6. Flooding: Insurance claims reach towards $10 million. -

Insurers have received close to 2,000 claims after severe flooding in the lower North Island over the weekend of the 20th June.

7. Annual health insurance payouts rise by $38 million. - NZ Herald

Following on from a previous story posted on the blog, the annual health insurance payout figure has been revised upward yet more. This is the first time since the statistics have been kept that $1 billion has been paid out in claims nationwide.

8. Cold snap hits New Zealand: Could we see record low temperatures? - NZ Herald

Ice and snow covers South Island roads and last week, Queenstown airport was forced to cancel a day's worth of flights. The record low tempearture recorded in New Zealand of a shocking -25 degrees may be under threat if the cold continues. Drivers are urged to stay safe on the road and to keep alert and warm.
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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Common Insurance Mistakes to Avoid (Part Two)

Read Part One here.

4. Be aware of pre-existing health conditions.

If you have to cancel your health insurance, please be cautious about any medical conditions that you have developed while your policy was in force. If you need to transfer providers or get insurance at another time in the future, those medical issues become 'pre-existing conditions'. Having a pre-existing condition, depending on its severity, could mean much higher premiums or in the worst case scenario, it could prohibit you from being covered at all. Make sure you bear this in mind and ask a professional before cancelling your policy or before buying your first insurance. Many people have unfortunately let their policy lapse or cancel it entirely, believing that they will be able to re-acquire the same cover at the same prices at another time if they need to. This may not the case.

Medical Conditions

5. Make honest and full disclosures on your application.

Insurance providers are nothing if not thorough. Lying or omitting information on your application in hopes of getting a better deal on your premiums or thinking that some information is unimportant could have dire consequences. When you have to claim on your policy, the insurance provider can legally deny you your claim if you have found to have misrepresented or omitted information. For instance, if you have a pre-existing medical condition or injury and you fail to provide details on the application forms, the provider could very well not pay out your claim. Similarly, if you check non-smoker on the application and it is later discovered that you smoke, your claim could be reduced or cancelled to make up for the increased premiums you would have been paying if you had made full disclosure. The bottom line is that it is far better to be safe than sorry. Make all necessary disclosures, be truthful and if you're at all unsure about anything, ask a professional adviser for a consultation before proceeding.

Full Disclosure

6. Don't leave it too late.

When we are young, often purchasing insurance is the last thing on our minds. We're young, healthy, full of life and at very low risk of needing our lives, our health or our debts covered. Ironically, the time when we perhaps least need insurance is the time we should be thinking about buying it the most. If we leave it too long, until we are older, we are also going to have more pre-existing conditions and have to pay higher and higher premiums. In my personal experience, I was lucky enough to have a medical policy before I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in my early twenties. If I had left it longer, I would have had to pay over $30,000 of medical costs out of my own pocket. Think about getting your life and your health covered before you need it. It will benefit you in the long run.

Aging and Insurance

7. Review your policies regularly.

Spratt Financial reviews our clients' insurance policies on a yearly basis for a very good reason. Things can change, both in your life and in the insurance marketplace. It is likely that you will be in a different financial situation with different needs a year from today, and it is essential that your insurance plan covers those current needs. Basic life cover with a sum assured of $50,000 may work when you're 20 with no dependants, but it won't be enough after your first child comes along or after you and your partner secure a mortgage. Review regularly, and make sure your cover fits your current circumstance.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Common Insurance Mistakes to Avoid (Part One)

Buying insurance can sometimes be a much more difficult thing that we want it to be. Unfortunately, if you really want to cover the bases and make sure your insurance works the way you need it to, there are some things you need to be aware of. This article will list out some common mistakes people make when buying their insurance and how best to avoid them.

1. Don't rely on assumptions.

One of the most important considerations when looking for insurance is just how much cover you need. When looking at this, there are some things you can very easily overlook. For a life, total permanent disability or trauma insurance policy a sum assured that only covers your existing debt or that is just an arbitrary figure may not be enough. Factors such as inflation, growing cost of living, interest and more need to be considered thoroughly otherwise yourself or your beneficiaries may end up with a payout that isn't enough to support them in their most difficult time. For disability and long term insurance, the situation is even more complicated and very difficult to work out just how much money your beneficiaries would need. This is where talking to an adviser before you get your insurance becomes essential. You will most often need more than your current income to maintain your current living conditions in the future so don't make assumptions of how much you'll need.

2. Cheaper is not always better.

Often the primary consideration when choosing insurance is the cost of premiums. Understandably, people are extremely motivated to pick the policy with the cheapest monthly premium but in the insurance industry, this can be a dangerous choice. For example, as a rule in general for health insurance, the higher your premiums the less you will be paying when you have to claim for healthcare. The company's reputation and amount of coverage you'll get also needs to be thought about carefully. If you're going to encounter problems at claim time, your savings in premiums are going to pale in comparison to the consequences if you won't get paid out in full. A qualified adviser can inform you of the differences between insurance providers and it's something that definitely needs to be taken into account.

3. Not knowing what is covered.

Make sure that you don't gloss over the details of what specifically is covered by your insurance. For health insurance, policies can cover GP visits, surgical costs, dentistry and optical. Your policy can cover one, all or a combination of them. General insurance policies such as home or contents insurance can cover certain events, but it can also not cover them, leaving you in a costly hole if certain circumstances should ever come to pass. Not knowing exactly what's covered beforehand is a bad mistake and could cost you hugely in the long run, so either ask an agent or go over your policy fine print thoroughly before making any decisions.