OPINION PIECE - by Nick Kirwan, Senior Policy Manager – Life Insurance
The first thing we want people to know about the COVID-19 pandemic is that all life insurers currently have their full pandemic management plans fully operational. What that means is that they will be focusing on two areas in particular. First and foremost is dealing with people’s claims. We are fully expecting an increase in life insurance claims coming through, not just death claims but other claims as well for people experiencing ill health, possibly mental ill health.
Life insurers are also making sure they are able to answer customer enquiries. There has been a very sharp increase in call centre volumes. A lot of people are calling to check and understand exactly what they’re covered for. And there are a lot of enquiries from people who are experiencing financial hardship. There are people who have lost their jobs, who have been stood down or working reduced hours and they want to know what their options are.
Life insurers are asking anyone in that position to get in touch with their insurance company or financial adviser, if you have one, because life insurance companies have options available for people who are struggling. And although wait times are longer as a result of the current call volumes, you will get through and there will be help at the other end.
A lot of people are asking about their existing cover and whether there are any exclusions that apply. The FSC has some helpful information on our website here. If you took out your policy before this pandemic started, then there are no exclusions in those existing life insurance policies that would prevent a death claim from being paid. Cover is available for new customers too if people are currently in the process of reviewing their financial plans and think they need some or more cover. Shop around. There are companies who are still accepting new applications.
Many people have their life insurance cover through their superannuation. If you do and you want to understand exactly what, and how much, you’re insured for then get in touch with your superannuation trustee. They will be able to give you this information so that you can make a judgment about whether it’s too much or not enough and make any adjustments. Remember that it’s important to have just the cover you need so that the premiums don’t inappropriately erode your super account balance.
If you are a frontline healthcare worker, life insurers have reached an agreement here that will explain any issues around taking out cover.