Is Opt-in Super Insurance the Only Option?

It may seem surprising, but a lot of Australians aren’t sure what happens to the super contributions made by their employers. Around 14 per cent of Gen Y had never, didn’t know how to, or couldn’t be bothered to check their super fund, according to a study from Finder.com.au. It seems, however, that super funds are well aware of this confusion or lack of interest and count on it. According to money expert Bessie Hassan from Finder.com.au, only 42 per cent know how much they have in their super fund.

What Fees are You Paying?

Administration, investment, exit, and switching fees are just some of the charges deducted from super balances, some of those on a regular basis. Those costs can add up and eat away at your savings, particularly if you don’t have a regular contribution going in or if you have more than one super account. On top of this, super funds will often provide customers with a default insurance option, meaning an insurance premium will also be deducted from the balance of the account.

man holding piggy bank

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Why do people get insurance through their super fund? There are a few compelling reasons including cost, convenience, easy acceptance and flexibility with cover. Firstly, as funds purchase policies in bulk, they’ll often be cheaper than for individuals. Secondly, premiums are deducted from the balance of your fund, so it’s straightforward and easy to manage. Thirdly, some funds don’t require you to do a health check. Lastly, you can generally decide the amount of cover you need. So, for people who otherwise wouldn’t have any form of life insurance, superannuation is a simple way to manage it.

That all sounds great, except there are some major limitations, particularly for young people. Firstly, default cover is limited and not tailored to the consumer. Secondly, it’s not portable so you can’t take your cover with you if you change funds. Thirdly, if you make a claim it could take a long time to get any money. This is because the insurer will pay the super fund who will then pay you. Lastly, premiums can rise if you switch jobs as some funds default members as smokers or blue-collar workers.

Are New Government Super Measures the Answer?

The federal government proposed the ‘Protecting Your Superannuation Package’ in the 2018/19 Federal Budget. This will come into effect from July 1 2019. Insurance will now be opt-in rather than the current default, opt-out system. This will apply for super members under 25, accounts that have not received contributions in 13 months, and members with balances less than $6,000. Admin and investment fees will be capped at 3 per cent on low balance accounts with less than $6,000, and all exit fees have been banned. Australians paid over $52 million in exit fees 2016/17.

These measures seem are a positive step towards protecting young people and those with small balances from unnecessary fees. However, with less people opting in, premiums will rise for those who want to keep their cover. Rice Warner published the ‘Federal Budget Impact – Insurance’ report and believe the new system will raise default premiums. They estimate that the cost for Income Protection (IP) will go up a huge 20.4%. Death insurance and Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) will increase by 6.6% and 8.2% respectively.

So What is the Answer?

As we reported last month in the article “How Health Insurance Discounts Really Affect Young People”, insurance companies rely on young people paying fees for services they are far less likely to use in order to ensure policies remain affordable for everyone. It’s hard to keep everyone happy ­– opt-in super insurance benefits young people and those with small balances, and the current system keeps premiums down for those who rely on their super insurance. You should consolidate your super, either through your fund or the MyGov website. By keeping your money together, you minimise fees and make it easier to keep an eye on the account. Always keep your personal and contact details updated so you don’t miss important updates from your fund.

Words by Isabelle Laker

How Health Insurance Discounts Really Affect Young People

The benefits of taking out private health insurance are obvious. Avoiding hospital waiting lists, staying in private rooms, selecting your own doctor and avoiding the Medicare Levy Surcharge, among others. So why are young people choosing not to take out private healthcare policies?

Consumer group Choice has found that almost three in five young people believe private health insurance is too expensive and poor value for money. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, that’s true for most young people. On average, you won’t start getting more from your health fund than you pay in premiums until you’re 55.

Emergency room

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A possible healthcare solution?

Currently, insurers have to charge the same amount of money for the same cover and cannot discriminate based on age. However, last year federal Health Minister Greg Hunt proposed an overhaul of private health insurance. The federal government is now debating a bill in the Senate to allow private health funds to offer discounts to young people in an effort to encourage them to sign up. A spokesperson for Mr Hunt claimed that the reforms would result in “significant savings” for young people.

The government said discounts could be as much as 10 per cent on hospital cover. When you look closer, however, it’s actually 2 per cent a year for a maximum of five years. In other words, this could mean a reduction of $2.25 a month on some policies.

This proposal has been criticised by Choice’s Katinka Day, who said that, “Discounted private health insurance cover isn’t worth it if you don’t need the cover in the first place.” Rather than to ensure that young people take up health insurance, Ms Day said that insurers want this bill so that more young, healthy people who are less likely to make a claim sign up to private health cover to subsidise costs. This would result in premiums going down for all customers and remain affordable for sick and older members.

So, will the new bill really lower the costs of insurance for young people and help them find more cover than they receive under Medicare? Well, it really depends on the individual policies. As it stands, no one knows for sure what the proposed changes will mean. The bill is currently before the Senate.

Words by Isabelle Laker

 

Number Crunching

There’s been some exciting news today. And while it’s not specifically insurance-related, we think it’s definitely a cause for celebration.

The results of the same-sex marriage postal vote were announced this morning by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australians have voted overwhelmingly ‘yes’ to marriage equality. With 61.6 per cent of more than 12 million voters supporting changes to the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to wed, a great number of people across Australia will be painting their towns rainbow.

Everyone knows most people working in the insurance industry like numbers. High or low, we like them. There’s no getting around it. And we’re guessing the latest statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics will likely keep us busy for years to come. It’s an absolute goldmine!

Number Crunching

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Just look at these figures:

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, “17 of Greater Sydney’s 29 federal electorates returned a majority yes vote, while 12 had a majority of no voters. The city-wide yes vote – 55.29 per cent – was more than 6 percentage points below the national figure.”

Although the wealthy eastern region of the city voted with a resounding ‘yes’, a number of western Sydney electorates voted ‘no’. Understanding the demographic factors in these regions can help explain the sharp differences in response to the marriage survey across the city. And they also unlock a treasure trove of interesting sociological data. These demographic factors include religion and the proportion of people born overseas. For the full run-down, check out the article here.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There are still some hurdles that need to be cleared in order for changes to the Marriage Act to become permanent. It’s now up to the members of Parliament to make things happen. Just for the moment, however, we can sit back and peruse the numbers.

Words by Skye Jamieson

High Risk, High Reward?

It’s been a little quiet over the last week, but this blogger has returned from her short hiatus. A lot has happened in the insurance world in the past week, and I’m feeling mighty inspired.

Heading into my beloved office this morning, I got thinking about risk. We take risks every day of our lives. In fact, we take so many risks that we might not be aware of just how often it happens. Something as mundane as driving a car, for example, can be an incredibly dangerous task. You might be the best driver in Sydney, but you can’t predict the behaviour of others on the road. It can be a risk using the office microwave to heat up your leftover fish curry. You might earn some enemies in the office by doing so. Or, some of you might have taken a particularly large risk yesterday by placing a bet on the Melbourne Cup (here’s hoping it paid off!).

Risk

Image: Wikipedia

But risks are also changing for the construction industry. According to Insurance Business, construction clients should be aware of the ‘underappreciated’ insurance risks in the construction industry.

The news comes from Iain Drennan, industry expert and head of construction at Jardine Lloyd Thompson. He believes that many construction clients face a rising cyber threat. Drennan, however, believes their threat differs from that of other sectors.

“Construction companies don’t necessarily house personal information like the banking or retail sectors. However, they still have access to sensitive information, especially if they are dealing with government entities,” Drennan told Insurance Business.

Some construction firms face loss of data, software threats and theft of intellectual property. But Drennan believes that the breadth of cyber cover available to construction clients has increased dramatically in the last couple of years. This means that constructions clients have the opportunity to be better prepared for rising risks. In this case, ‘playing it safe’ is the smart thing to do.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Island of Positivity

It’s Friday, and according to Google, it’s also Cranky Co-Workers Day. Many people work in an office with slightly overbearing co-workers, and I’m happy to say that it’s definitely not the case here at FT Adjusting! We’re lucky enough to work in a relaxed office where the people are good-natured and friendly. There’s banter galore and more smiles than you can poke a stick at.

Cranky Co-Workers Day, according to this particular website, is a day in honour of all the complaining and just plain cranky co-workers you have to endure all year. This is the day to let them go with it and enjoy their miseries. Sounds enticing, doesn’t it? Fortunately, this is one holiday FT Adjusting won’t be celebrating.

There’s someone in the office who knows a thing or two about positivity. Our very own loss adjuster Teddy Matailevu, was born and raised on a small Fijian island of around one hundred people. On an island that remote, with limited electricity, running water and no technology, your perception of positivity is dramatically altered. Teddy describes the island as paradise. It’s untouched land that takes fifteen hours by boat to travel to. On his island, the sea is teeming with life and the ocean is every colour imaginable. Most people he takes there don’t want to leave.

 

Positivity

Image: Pixabay.com

*Sigh* As enticing as that daydream is to slip into, we’ve got to snap back to the office. Because it’s Friday, and somewhere, somehow, co-workers are finding ways to become cranky. If only every office could be like the FT Adjusting office. If that’s the case for you, please feel free to use that fantasy as a coping mechanism. Just picture a white sand island, palm trees blowing in the breeze, the smell of salt and firewood in the air…it’s easy to slip away. Please note that FT Adjusting is not responsible for any cranky co-worker repercussions that may occur.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Meeting of the Minds

A meeting of minds can be a magical thing. And that’s precisely what happened in the FT Adjusting office this morning.

With (almost) all the staff gathered around the office conference table, it nearly felt like a family reunion. We even had Ben and Zack joining us from Melbourne via telephone (after some typical technical issues to begin with). We had our pens and notepads at the ready, and ‘encouragement’ in the form of brownies. And with special guest Simon Bohm joining us – the meeting promised to be a good one.

One of the main focus points of the meeting – what are some of the major problems the insurance industry is currently facing? We identified a few of them. But throughout the meeting we kept coming back to the idea of value. What value do we have as a small loss adjusting company? What is our ‘uniqueness’?

Meeting

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All businesses need to bring something to the table to give them a competitive advantage in any market. It’s this uniqueness that allows a business to thrive. For FT Adjusting, it’s our specialty nichepertise – the fact that we’re niche and we know it. We specialise in claims arising from construction and engineering, and we excel at it.

However, nobody is perfect. Sometimes mistakes can occur that are completely out of your control. It’s ultimately a loss adjuster’s job to determine exactly where the fault lies. But this isn’t always a clear-cut, simple process.

Ian, our director, made the excellent point that people can often expect us to be crystal ball gazers. Well, we’re not quite there yet. There’s no cupboard full of fortune-telling artifacts hidden in the FT Adjusting office. But we do have exemplary analytical and reporting skills that allow us to sift through data to arrive at the correct answer. And we think that’s real value.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Grinding Gears

Everyone loves to have a good old whinge once in a while. It’s a fact of life. Have you ever subjected your imaginary car passengers to an endless tirade because some moron cut you off in traffic? Have you ever angrily told someone to pipe down while commuting in the train’s designated quiet carriage? If you answered yes to both, you might be a serial complainer.

Now, I’m not sure if congratulations are in order for that title. Sometimes complaining can border on rudeness, or straight up road rage. But some might defend the serial complainer. Aren’t they just standing up for consumer rights? Aren’t they just telling it like it is? Complainers are the ones making change, they’re sticking it to the universe, they’re taking control!

Gears

Image: pexels.com

Australians are cottoning on to the benefits of complaining. More and more of us are becoming serial complainers. Even the insurance industry is feeling the wrath of complaining. According to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) Australia, they received a record number of general insurance disputes in 2016-17.

The FOS received nearly 40, 000 disputes in the period, which was a 16% increase from last year.

Lead Ombudsman, General Insurance, John Price told Insurance News that the general insurance industry is largely responsible for the significant level of increase in complaints received at FOS. He said the rise coincides with increased outsourcing of claims handling, higher claims numbers and increased consumer empowerment through social media.

The loss adjusters at FT Adjusting know that service is paramount, and that a satisfied customer is likely to be a repeat customer. But consumer empowerment is a powerful thing. With social media, consumers are able to interact with, and simultaneously put pressure on companies like never before. Of course, bear in mind that social media is also used for trivial things like Instagramming lattes and mundane status updates. When something’s grinding your gears, it seems that social media is all ears.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Productivity Debunked

Productivity. It’s a word that’s thrown around a lot in weekly meetings. And when it’s accompanied by meaningless buzzwords like synergy, dynamism and linkativity, good old productivity can lose a lot of its punch.

If you’ve ever watched How I Met Your Mother, you’ll be familiar with Barney Stinson’s unique buzzword ‘The Possimpible’. Daring to go past what is possible, and even past the impossible – to the place where the possible and the impossible meet…to become the possimpible. Got it?

We don’t either. You see, unlike those meaningless buzzwords, productivity is tangible. And luckily for us, Insurance Business has provided its readers with some top advice for improving productivity in the office.

Productivity

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  1. Assess your job’s passion factor

When we’re doing what we enjoy, we’re more passionate. And your job should be no exception. Start with the heart, says Insurance Business, and watch as you become motivated with the positive, heart-felt enjoyment you feel in your role.

  1. Debunk your productivity myth

One of the most common productivity myths that’s holding you back is the belief that you have more work to do than anyone else. Instead, the truth might be that you’re not managing your time efficiently. Once we drop the myth, doors will open.

  1. Take ownership of your time

It’s okay to say no to demands that aren’t within your priorities. It’s also okay to release your inner perfectionist, when it’s becoming more of a hindrance than a help.

This advice comes from the productivity guru and author Muffy Churches. There’s dozens of tips included in the Insurance Business article, which can be found here. It’s a great read if you’re serious about connectitude, tranformatation and linkativity.

 Words by Skye Jamieson

Dive In Diversity

If you’re in the insurance industry, you might have heard some buzz this week about a certain festival that’s taken place in the form of events in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. It’s the Lloyd’s Dive In festival, which is an international diversity and inclusion festival.

According to Lloyd’s, it’s continued to garner support with the highest number of insurance sector sponsors since its inception. Insurance News reported that more than 1300 registered attendees participated in ten events over the three-day period.

The theme for this year’s festival reinforced the business case for diversity and inclusion.

diversity

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‘The Diversity Dividend is clear: people are drawn to and thrive in inclusive workplaces. Inclusion creates better productivity and team performance, lays the groundwork for inspiring innovation, and reflects the values of our global customer base,’ says Lloyd’s.

Sessions in Sydney covered issues such as customer diversity, innovation, mental health and the gender leadership gap. For the first time, the program extended to other Australian states.

But it’s not only expanding in Australia. Lloyd’s says the festival has reached new heights by expanding to 32 locations across 17 countries.

This is fantastic news for the ever-changing global insurance industry. Just as Lloyd’s says, put simply, diverse and inclusive workplaces are becoming a business fundamental, not a discretionary addition. It sure is a step in the right direction – now let’s hope we keep walking the right way.

For more information about the Dive In festival, you can visit the website here.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Realist Talk

It’s said that there are two types of people in the world – pessimists and optimists.

Pessimists tend to see the worst in situations. They also need a lot of convincing before they jump on board with something.

Optimists, on the other hand, often expect the best outcome in life and events.

These two characters generally appear together in cartoons and as sidekicks in adventure movies. The dream team. Think Marlin and Dory in Finding Nemo, or Ariel and Sebastian the crab in The Little Mermaid. While I consider myself to be a glass half-full kind of person, there’s another type of person that often gets forgotten.

It’s the realist. According to Urban Dictionary (which, of course, is a reliable source of information), a realist is someone who has a firm grip on reality and can see things for what they are, not what they are told they are. Realists have their own views, writes aCanadianGuy. The realist sees the glass as exactly that – half a glass of water.

Realist

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Reading this inspired definition of realists made me realise that I’m most likely surrounded by them in this office. Realists work and live in the moment, and focus on what is currently at hand. Sound familiar? It’s because seeing things in a realistic light is one of the hallmarks of being a successful loss adjuster.

Although a loss adjuster investigates and settles claims on behalf of insurance companies, loss adjusters must act impartially. They report on the situation exactly as it is, being meticulous in what they see and how it is described. Loss adjusters cannot let their judgement be clouded by overstated or deliberately exaggerated items. Most importantly, they need to be certain of their own facts.

So let’s be realistic. There’s good and bad merits for all three personality types. But there’s a good saying that summarises them quite nicely: a pessimist sees a dark tunnel, an optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel, and the realist sees the train.

Words by Skye Jamieson