The importance of insurance cannot be underestimated – whatever age you are.
The purpose of insurance is to protect your assets. To work out what insurance you might need, just think about your major assets. Commonly insured assets are your car, boat, house (building), house contents (furniture, electrical etc.) and personal effects (such as jewellery or art). Other common insurance arrangements cover you, your health, travel and even debt.
Then, you need to make a judgement call: First – how likely is it that I could lose this asset? And second, what would be the financial consequence of losing this asset?
If you lost it but you can live without it and you don’t need to replace it – then you probably don’t need to insure it. If the likelihood of loss is insignificant, then again you may choose not to insure it.
But if loss could happen – and that loss could really impact on your future lifestyle if that asset needs replacing – then it should probably be insured.
The biggest asset that most young people have is usually their future income stream.
If something happens to you when you are in your 20s to prevent you from physically earning your future income stream, you’re unlikely to have other assets to cover that gap, such as accumulated superannuation or other major assets such as shares or property.
Your future income stream also disappears with your death, of course. If you have dependants, your death could seriously impact their future. However, for young people without dependants, life insurance is less important.
All young investors should consider protecting their future income through Total and Permanent Disablement (TPD) insurance. TPD insurance is often offered in combination with life insurance. Premiums may be lower if that insurance option is available in your employer’s superannuation policy.
Another protection for your future income stream is insurance against short-term disablement. An injury or long illness which is recoverable may still prevent you from earning an income for a few months to a few years. Income protection insurance can replace your income stream on a regular basis, or a relatively new cover called trauma insurance can provide a lump sum payment under certain circumstances.
Under-insurance happens when you take out an insurance policy that doesn’t cover the full cost of your loss. An example is having your house and all the contents destroyed in a fire – and having the rebuilding and replacement costs higher than your insurance cover.
You should check your insurers’ Product Disclosure Statement as penalties may also apply for under-insuring so you receive even less than the actual insured amount, therefore further adding to your financial burden.
Over-insurance is also an issue. It doesn’t matter how much your policy covers, most insurers will only pay the cost of replacing the item insured. It’s important to review your insurance each year to make sure you are insured for the right amount.
Start by writing out an insurance plan. Work out
the value of your assets and their replacement
costs. Then, work out your income protection
needs. List your commitments – outstanding debts
or regular payments such as car or housing
loans. How much would you need to cover those
if you faced losing your income over one or two
years? What about if you faced permanent
disablement? You would need a lump sum that
would be equivalent to your future income
stream. Deduct from that the sale of any assets
like savings or property, and your existing
superannuation benefits. The gap remaining
should be covered by insurance.
Login to access the Insurance Evaluator to help you estimate how much insurance you might need to protect your retirement savings.
If your superannuation policy currently offers insurance (as some Russell SuperSolution employer
packages do) – think carefully before switching funds. Life and TPD policies are usually cheaper
and easier to arrange through your superannuation fund. There is a group rate, giving you lower
premiums, and medical evidence isn’t always required. Switching funds could mean you lose
your insurance – and it is generally not automatically available even if you decide to switch
back. Health evidence is often required.