New therapies and benefits available in life insurance

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LIFE insurers have always faced a major hurdle in getting Aussies engaged, industry figures say, because people simply don’t want to think about dying.

However, life cover is about much more than the money paid to beneficiaries when someone passes away and experts say the disengagement could result in those suffering a setback or injury missing out on some much-needed benefits.

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AMP director of claims Jen Mitchell said life insurance should be viewed more as something that helps people live the best life they can.

“People know more about what their car insurance covers than their life insurance,” Ms Mitchell said. “Your body and life are the greatest assets you have,” she said. “A lot of people think about death cover only, but there is also income protection when something happens to your body.”

Modern policies have evolved in recent years and features access to some interesting benefits, including horses, robots and personal cleaners.

Equine therapy for example involves the use of horses in building trust for some claimants; mostly when psychological needs are involved.

“Horses are about stretching your borders and also about touch and trust,” Ms Mitchell said. “People in certain situations are more likely to touch an animal than they are another human.”

Robot helpers come in the form of iPad robots, which Ms Mitchell describes as “a mix between a GoPro and an adjustable desk”.
Meanwhile, cleaners are available to some claimants recovering from surgery, or unwell and unable to perform domestic duties.

“We’ve got a philosophy that people need to lead the best life and get back to their routine as best as they can and we will use creative ways to help them do that,” Ms Mitchell said. “If they can continue to connect to the workplace, they are most likely to make a full recovery.”

She believes people are often unaware that claiming on life insurance won’t mean an increase in future premiums; that additional benefits like funeral costs and accommodation for family members are included in some policies; and that despite the hype, genetic test results rarely affect whether someone is offered life insurance.

“Often people don’t get engaged with life insurance until a particular event or stage in their life, like a wedding, but it may be too late,” Ms Mitchell said. “It’s important people understand life insurance is valuable and every policy differs. You can get a financial adviser to help you make a decision about what you need.” spokeswoman Abigail Koch said those looking to sign on for life insurance should ensure they avoid costly mistakes.

“Your age, your job, pre-existing health conditions and lifestyle factors such as a smoking habit can all push up the price of life insurance,” Ms Koch said. “Don’t try and miss out key bits of information about yourself in order to try and save because insurance claims can be rejected.”

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Ms Koch said the difference between stepped and level premiums was important.

“Even though stepped premiums start out cheaper than level premiums, they go up every year,” she said. “Level premiums on the other hand don’t go up with age but rather with inflation so can work out to be cheaper in the long run.

“Every life insurance policy has its own exclusions so make sure you read through your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) carefully to know what you’re covered for.”