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.