Monday, July 24, 2017

Insurance FAQ (Updated)

What Kind of Insurance Do I Need?

Health Insurance: Health Insurance is a form of cover which pays for medical costs, and makes it easier for you to access private health services outside of the public system. Although it may seem easy to adopt a standpoint of ‘it won’t happen to me’ as it relates to your health, 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. We recommend some form of health insurance as a necessity to everyone. If cost is a factor, there are a number of options that are less expensive that we can discuss with you anytime.
Life Insurance: Life Insurance is insurance that pays an agreed upon lump sum to the people you choose if you passing away. 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 very good idea. 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. Life insurance, depending on age and physical health, is generally inexpensive and with our help, you could have even better deals, making a life insurance policy extremely useful without being a burden on your finances.

Income Protection and Disability Insurance: Income Protection is designed to pay you an amount reflective of your monthly income if you are rendered unable to work through illness or injury. We can sometimes operate under assumptions that severe illness will result in recovery or in a relatively quick passing away. Unfortunately, that is most often not the case. The biggest 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 get better! This is why income protection can be a good option 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 accident or illness strikes.

Trauma/Critical Illness Insurance: Trauma Insurance is a form of cover which pays out a full or partial lump sum (which is agreed upon when taking out the policy) upon diagnosis of a serious health condition. This is different from income protection in that you are paid the full amount on your policy immediately when a diagnosis is confirmed (or a partial payment for numerous less serious conditions or procedures). This can allow you more flexibility on paying debt, providing capital for your business or supporting your family. Different people have different needs, and depending on your situation a trauma policy could be the best bet. We advise that if you are unsure, contact our professional team. We specialise in looking at your unique financial situation and determining whether your situation would best be suited to trauma insurance, income protection or a combination of both.

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 to your business 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.

Insurance can sometimes seem confusing and daunting, but it doesn't have to be.
 If you are unsure which type of cover is best for your situation, we can help with our completely free and no obligation insurance advice. Simply fill out the form on this page and one of our professional team can be in contact whenever is convenient for you.

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 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 health insurance (to insure that any medical procedures you need are covered) and life insurance (to provide for the people close to you 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.

Keep in mind that many insurers that we deal with offer additional discounts for bundled insurance policies, so even if you think the cost of different insurances could be prohibitive, you could be surprised at the deals we can provide you.

What Sort of Insurance Can You Offer?

Spratt Financial Services can offer you the best, most comprehensive service in all types of risk insurance for both individuals and businesses/corporations, no matter what the size. This includes: 
  • Life Insurance
  • Medical/Health Insurance and Group Medical Insurance for Businesses.
  • Trauma Insurance
  • Income Protection and Redundancy Cover
  • Mortgage Protection Insurance
  • Key Person Insurance Cover
  • Total Permanent Disablement Insurance
Spratt Financial Services can also be your link to a full range of fire and general insurance, including home, contents, vehicle insurance, business stock/vehicle/building insurance, travel insurance and liability cover.
Our Insurance Service goes beyond securing you the best cover at the lowest prices. We also provide full claims management, regular reviews to make sure you are always getting the best deal and a professional support staff on hand at all times to help you with anything you may need.

Can You Help Me Save Money on My Insurance?

It is very likely that we can. Spratt Financial Services can offer you many avenues to save money on your insurance. Firstly, with our special 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 for their insurance by not having the right sum assured or not having the right type of cover for them entirely. Our professional insurance brokers will take the time to find out your personal circumstances and secure the right cover for you at the lowest prices available.  

Are There Any Other Options To Save Money On My Insurance?

Yes there are. If you are looking to save more 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 or personal accident and injury cover are cheaper alternatives (although they come with additional conditions and restrictions). Another less expensive option is mortgage repayment insurance, which will cover your mortgage payments if you are disabled and cannot earn an income.

With almost all forms of insurance there are more limited options and conditions that can be applied that will result in lower premiums. Taking the time to plan out which features you need and which you don't could result in higher savings, and we can help anytime making sure those decisions are the right ones for you.

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.

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. The fact that a record $1.14 billion was paid out in health insurance claims last year speaks to the importance health insurance has to a huge amount of New Zealanders.

Health Insurance: What is an Excess and Should I Add One?

Having an excess on your policy means that you will pay a part of the cost of your treatment and the insurer will pay the rest. For instance, a $500 excess means that if you required a procedure that cost $5,000, you will pay $500 and the insurer will pay $4,500. Adding an excess to your policy can have practical benefits, as you will get a discount on the policy's cost 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.

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.

Which Insurer Provides The Best 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.

What If I Need To Make A Claim?

Making claims can be extremely stressful and add a burden to you during already hard times. That's why our insurance service to you offers free claims management to take the stress out of your hands and make sure you get the claims you need quickly, easily and efficiently. We have an unmatched history of getting results at claim time and this is part of the service we offer to all of our clients completely free.

How Important is my Health?

In general, when it comes to insurance, the better health you're in when taking out your insurance, the less you will pay. If you make the effort to keep in good condition, you will be rewarded with lower premiums and fewer conditions and exclusions (things that the insurance policy will not pay out for). For instance, the cost of risk insurance policies are cheaper for non-smokers and those with fewer pre-existing conditions. The good news is that if you have an existing policy and your health improves or you quit smoking, your rates can be renegotiated and brought down. As well as for your general wellbeing, a healthy lifestyle will definitely pay off when it comes to insurance.

Can You Explain Insurance Jargon and Terminology to Me?

Sometimes the terms surrounding insurance can be difficult to understand for newcomers. Check out this article from the Spratt Financial Blog which will explain some of the common terms you will encounter when dealing with risk insurance.

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 providers have age-related premiums that increase 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. Factors that contribute to higher premiums include:
  • Increased risk to the insurer as we age.
  • New medical technology (more costly to provide treatment).
  • An aging population (with higher average claims amounts).
  • Rising currency inflation.
  • Rising medical inflation (increasing consultation, treatment and equipment costs).
Increasing premiums are a necessary fact of life in terms of insurance, but they are generally small and incremental over time. If you are concerned about premium increases, 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.

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.

How Do I Get Started?

For more information on how Spratt Financial's team of insurance brokers can assist with your insurance, you can use our contact form to the right of this blog. You can also call us any time at 09 307 8200, or find our individual advisers contact details through the Meet the Team Page. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Why You Need an Insurance Plan

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 do you really need the Insurance 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. Also, 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 policy 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 our professional team and we can help you determine the amount you need.

4. Do you know the right type of Insurance you need?

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 Spratt Financial Services - 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 unwarranted 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 hundreds of 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 wholeheartedly that you use our experienced professional advisers to not only design and review your underlying insurance 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. Use our experienced professionals if you need guidance or advice - our service is completely free and no obligation, so you have nothing to lose!