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8 tips to help navigate the Australian life insurance market

If you’re thinking of taking up or changing your Life Insurance cover, it can be hard to know where to start. Many organisations, including Coles Supermarkets, now offer Life Insurance which leaves consumers with more choice but not necessarily a different product.

Shine Lawyers Disability Insurance & Superannuation expert Melissa O’Neill offers her top tips for selecting Life Insurance:

  1. Plan ahead - Do some planning about how much money you would need to live on should you become unable to work and pay your bills i.e. How much income would you need?  How much money would you need to pay the house/car off or send the kids to school?
  1. Know who you are dealing with - While companies like Coles may sell insurance, they’re not always the ones that pay at claim time. In the case of Coles, MetLife is the insurer and they’re the company that decides which claims are paid.
  1. Compare prices and products - some polices include insurance for things that you will never need. Make sure your cover is appropriate to your lifestyle and needs.
  1. Be thorough - Be as thorough as possible when applying for a policy, particularly with things such as medical questionnaires.  If you don’t tell the insurer something that could affect their decision to insure you then they can cancel your policy.
  1. Watch for exclusions - There will almost certainly be a clause in your policy that excludes claims for a “pre-existing condition” so be careful about taking out insurance for coverage that you may not get.  Consider your medical history carefully before you take out a policy like this.
  1. Read the policy documents - Make sure you have access to and have carefully considered the actual policy document or terms and conditions that apply. Most insurers will only give you a Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) so you may need to ask them for a copy of these documents.
  1. Do your research – Have a look online for reviews that list other peoples’ experiences with various insurers. Be wary of those who have been heavily criticised.
  1. Speak to a professional - If you are uncertain about any aspect of life insurance, speak to a professional financial advisor or an independent insurance broker.

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Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: June 22, 2014.

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