Income protection insurance pays up to 85% of your pre-tax income for a specified time if you're unable to work due to partial or total disability.
Each income protection policy has its own definition of partial or total disability that must be met before a claim is made. Check the insurer's website or the product disclosure statement (PDS) for the definition and any exclusions.
Your income protection policy will have a waiting period before payments start due to loss of income through injury or illness.
Income protection insurance doesn't cover you for lost income because you are stood down or become unemployed.
Deciding if you need income protection insurance
Income protection insurance can be important if you:
To work out how much income protection you need, prepare a budget. This will help you see your monthly expenses and the income you'll need to replace. You may want to factor in making payments to your super as well.
If you need help deciding if you need income protection insurance and how much, speak to a financial adviser.
Choosing an income protection policy
Some of the things you'll need to consider when choosing an income protection policy are:
Income protection policies are provided as either an:
This is the amount of time you must wait before your payments start. Most income protection policies offer a waiting period between 14 days and two years.
In general, the longer the waiting period, the cheaper the policy. When you're choosing the waiting period, think about how much you have in sick and annual leave, savings and emergency funds.
The benefit period is how long the monthly payments will last. Most income protection policies offer two or five years, or up to a specific age (such as 65). The longer the benefit period, the more expensive the policy. But it also means greater protection if you're unable to work for a longer time.
Stepped or level premiums
You can generally choose to pay for income protection insurance with either:
Your choice of stepped or level premiums has a large impact on how much your premiums will cost now and in the future.
Compare how long it takes different insurers to pay an income protection claim and the percentage of claims they pay out.
How to buy income protection insurance
Check if you already have income protection insurance through super. Most super funds offer default income protection insurance that's cheaper than buying it directly. You can increase your level of cover through your super fund if you need to.
You can also buy income protection insurance from:
Premiums you pay for income protection insurance held outside of super are generally tax deductible. Policies outside of super usually allow a higher amount of cover and have more features and benefits available.
What you need to tell your insurer
You need to tell your insurer anything that could affect their decision to provide you with insurance. You need to give them this information when you apply, renew or change your insurance.
This can include your:
The information you provide will help the insurer to decide:
It is important that you answer the questions honestly. Providing misleading answers could lead an insurer to deny a claim you make.
Who to contact to make a claim
To make a claim on your insurance, speak to the person or company you bought the policy from.