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What its like to make an insurance claim December 5, 2017

Posted by Meike Suggars in General.
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ASICs Financial Adviser Register April 13, 2015

Posted by Meike Suggars in General.
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In 2015, ASIC launched its Register of licensed Financial Advisers. All financial advisers authorised to give financial advice must add themselves to this register, as a condition of their license to provide financial advice. This measure was a part of the Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) regulations the government put in place in 2014.

You can find our listings at https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/investing/financial-advice/financial-advisers-register by entering Suggars into the search field.

Or you can view them (as at 13 April 2015) here:
ASIC Financial Adviser Register – Meike
ASIC Financial Adviser Register – Jeff

Additional information about financial advisers will be added to the Register over the course of 2015 including qualifications, experience and association membership.

Who to call if your wallet is stolen May 23, 2014

Posted by Meike Suggars in General.
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We’ve all heard horror stories of identity fraud and the associated financial loss – the internet makes it so much easier these days! One of the most common events that gets the identity fraud ball rolling, is the loss of your wallet or purse. Think about it – everything about your identity is contained in that little bundle of cards and papers. Your address. Date of birth. Banking details. License and Medicare numbers… It makes the fraudsters task so easy.

Here are a few tips that can help limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know:

Lost Wallet

Photo: Roland Tanglao

1. Cancel your credit cards immediately, but the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Take a photocopy or scan of the front and back of all your cards and keep the copy where you can find it, and where it’s secure.

2. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your wallet/credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a likely first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).

3. But here’s what is perhaps most important of all: Call the three national credit reporting organizations – Veda Advantage (previously Baycorp), Dun and Bradstreet and the Tasmanian Collection Service – immediately to place a fraud alert on your Tax File Number, your passport number, and driver’s licence number. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorise new credit. It effectively renders your identity useless to anyone trying to use it for financial gain.

4. Ask for a new license number when you replace your driver’s license. Normally, they just provide you with a new copy of your old license but this means that the stolen copy is still effective as a form of ID for applying for credit. By cancelling your license and issuing you with a new license number, this problem is solved.

Here are some numbers which you might need to contact if your wallet etc. has been stolen :

1. Visa Card Australia – 1800 621 199
2. Visa Card International – 1800 450 346
3. Lost Travelers’ Cheques – 1800 127 477
4. MasterCard Australia – (02) 9466 3700
5. MasterCard International – 1800 120 113
6. Bankcard Australia – (02) 9281 6633
7. Medicare – 132 011
8. Centrelink Fraud – 137 230
9. Seniors Card – 1300 364 758
10. Passport – 131 232
11. ANZ FREECALL – 1800 033 844
12. Bank West – 131 718
13. Citibank – 132 484
14. Tamworth Coles/Myer Source -2340 1300 306 397
15. Commonwealth – 132 221
16. CUSCAL- MyCard 1300 135 538
17. GE Capital – 1300 369 904
18. Members Equity – 1300 654 998
19. National Australia Bank- 132 265
20. St George – 1800 028 208
21. SydneyVirgin – 2000 1800 080 000
22. Westpac – 1800 230 144
23. Woolworths Ezy Banking – 137 288

Feel free to add any other useful numbers in the comments below!

The Carbon Tax Explained – Does it Affect Your Tax Return? April 2, 2013

Posted by Meike Suggars in General.
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A good friend was recently complaining about his tax. With HECS, and now the carbon tax, there was no way he was going to get a tax refund. In fact, after checking the government’s carbon tax calculator he was worried he’d have to make an extra tax payment.

I was confused by his worry until I realised that he thought the carbon tax was an extra item on his tax return, like HECS is. So this article endeavours to explain how it works. Please note, it is not a criticism, commentary or political opinion article!

The carbon tax came onto affect on 1 July 2012. A tax of $23 per tonne of CO2 emissions is charged to the largest polluters in Australia – there are 293 of them (you can see a list here). These are the only companies or entities that will get a ‘carbon tax bill’.

Of course, this extra tax is likely to increase their cost of production, so it’s more expensive for them to make the products they make or provide the services they offer. As is normal in the business world, they are likely to pass on the extra cost to their customers.

This is where the general public of Australia is likely to feel the carbon tax pinch – normal products we use every day may be come more expensive. But we have the choice whether to still use those products or find an alternative that pollutes less in the making and so costs less.

For example, in the olden days, before the carbon tax, taking the green energy option from your electricity supplier was generally more expensive than the ‘normal’ coal-fired electricity option. But the carbon tax means the ‘normal’ electricity costs more to produce so it should now cost about the same as the green option to consumers. Or you might choose a hand-knitted cardigan instead of one manufactured on an electric knitting machine. Or maybe you choose the locally grown kiwi fruit when they’re in season, rather than those shipped in from Italy when they’re not.

The idea is that if you could have the green option without it costing you less, why wouldn’t you?! Theoretically if you change your choices you can avoid the carbon tax.

There are a number of household assistance packages from the government as well as changes to the income tax thresholds that are intended to minimise the impact on end users. You can estimate how you will be financially impacted by the carbon tax here.

Other places to get more info on the carbon tax (just beware of the political bias!):
http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1650825/QA-How-does-the-carbon-tax-work (some figures are now out of date, but general principles still work)

Suggars & Associates aren’t tax advisers so we can’t give you personal tax advice but we do know a number of great professionals we can introduce you to if you need tax assistance.

The advice in this article is of a general nature only and does not take your personal circumstances into account. You should seek financial advice before making any investment or financial decisions.

Join us at The Hub Business Expo February 11, 2013

Posted by Meike Suggars in General.
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This Saturday (16th Feb) Suggars & Associates are exhibiting at The Hub Business Expo at the Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre. This is a gathering of business-to-business companies providing a range of products and services. There will also be a great program of speakers to help you with everything from

Looking for a new supplier or someone to help you improve your business efficiency or productivity? Well, come along to find:The Hub Business Expo

o Office supplies
o Business coaching
o Social media
o Website design
o Interior design (home and commercial office)
o Virtual professionals
o Lead generation
o Accountants
o Recruitment
o Professional photography
o Personal stylist
o Graphic design
o Printer
o Insurance (thats us!)
o Lifestyle – personal styling, food, spiritual counselling

Entry is only $10.

Bookings at EventBrite and more information on Facebook

5 Easy Ways to Start Organising Your 2013 Finances January 31, 2013

Posted by Meike Suggars in General, Personal Insurance, Superannuation.
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So we’ve just passed the Australia Day weekend. We know who won the 2013 Australian Open and who topped the Triple J Hottest 100. The kids are almost back to school. The year is well and truly on its way!

 If you want 2013 to be a better money-year than 2012, here are 5 quick things you can do to help get yourself onto the right track:

 1)     Check your savings account is still competitive. Many banks offer special introductory interest rates to suck you in, but then after a few months they revert back to a standard rate. Use a comparator like Canstar http://www.canstar.com.au/savings-accounts/compare-online-saver/ to get a quick overview of what’s out there but do your own research by contacting the banks yourself too.

2)     Check your Binding Death Benefit Nomination is correctly set up so that if you die prematurely, the right people receive any money in your super fund. Your most recent super statement (probably dated around October 2012) will show you whether you have a beneficiary nominated and who it is. There may be tax implications for your beneficiary so talk to a financial adviser if you’re not sure.

3)     Check you’re not underinsured at home. As we’re right in the middle of bushfire season, it’s a timely reminder to check that your home and contents are properly insured – for the right amount and to cover the right risks. Check the policy wording and work out what would it cost you to replace absolutely everything? Getting a good insurance broker makes it easy. Here’s a story that highlights the implications of being underinsured.

4)     Check your mortgage is covered. If you have a mortgage on your home, would your family still be able to afford it if you died prematurely? Make sure they keep their home if they lose you by getting life insurance that at least covers the debt amount. It’s also a good idea to have some extra left insurance over to cover living expenses, so we strongly suggest you talk to an insurance adviser like Suggars & Associates as there are so many different options out there.

5)     Check your health insurance is competitive. A number of comparators are advertised on TV but these only display the insurance companies that pay to be included. Instead, use http://www.privatehealth.gov.au/dynamic/compare.aspx which includes all insurers in Australia

Of course, if you really want to get your finances in order, the best way to get started is to see a financial adviser. They’ll help you work out your goals and objectives and help you map out a plan to get you there.

If you’d like help with any of these items, call Suggars & Associates and we can get you started.

The advice in this article is of a general nature only and does not take your personal circumstances into account. You should seek financial advice before making any investment or financial decisions.

Book Review – The Barefoot Investor July 29, 2012

Posted by Meike Suggars in Book Review, General, Personal Insurance.
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The Barefoot Investor - Scott Pape

The Barefoot Investor –
Scott Pape

Written by Scott Pape,
Published by Pluto Press Australia, 2004 – pre-GFC!

Topic – personal financial management

In one sentence – a hassle free, step-by-step guide to controlling your money so you can control your life

What I liked – this book shows how everyone can be financially independent and build wealth, no matter what you earn. There are no scary terms or principles yet it’s not patronising so you don’t feel like an idiot for not knowing all of this stuff. There’s no reason why you can’t take the first step straight away.

What I didn’t – Scott thinks car insurance is more important than personal insurance! But how do you pay your car insurance premium if you have no income because you’re sick and can’t work?!

What I learned – how interest free store offers really work and how badly they can bite you if you don’t completely clear the loan before the xx months are up.

Perfect for – anyone who groans when they get a bill, seriously wondering how the hell they’re going to pay it

Score: 3.5/5

What others said: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1841127159

What else? Be careful if you buy the book from an overseas website – you want the Aussie version not the English adaption!
You might have heard Pape on Triple M and ABC radio, or read his column in the Herald Sun.

Don’t forget, it’s important to seek proper financial advice before buying any financial product to make sure it’s right for you and your own personal situation. Don’t just rely on a book.

Looking down from heaven March 16, 2012

Posted by Meike Suggars in General, Life Insurance, Superannuation.
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For many of my clients, life insurance is the first type of personal protection they consider – usually when purchasing a property or starting a family. If you provide financially for members of your family – either children, siblings or parents – it’s likely that term life insurance will form a key part of your Personal Protection Plan.

It’s also likely that you’ll want your dependents to have access to insurance monies as soon as possible; after all, bills still have to be paid even if you’re not here.

Looking down from heaven

Looking down from heaven – would you be happy with what you saw?

To speed up the payment of insurance benefits, consideration should be given to the use of binding death benefit nominations if the life insurance policy is held within superannuation. AMP’s claims experience indicates that using a binding death benefit nomination instead of a non-binding nomination on average reduces the time taken to settle the claim by 60 per cent.

A valid binding death benefit nomination can also be useful in reducing the likelihood of protracted legal disputes over the proceeds of a will.

There are restrictions on who you can nominate as beneficiary of a binding death benefit nomination, and there may be tax implications so it’s important you talk to your financial adviser or contact Suggars & Associates to ensure your life insurance is structured in the most effective manner for your personal situation.

The advice in this article is of a general nature only and does not take your personal circumstances into account. You should seek financial advice before making any investment or financial decisions

Photo courtesy of karindalziel

Getting advice might mean you have to change… September 27, 2011

Posted by Meike Suggars in General, Investments, Personal Insurance.
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Apparently its human instinct to resist change, and many of us do so by defending the status quo, as Seth Godin discusses here

Often, we don’t like seeking advice because we know we’re going to be told to do something different. So instead we:

  • Consider the cost of switching before considering the benefits? “I can’t afford it right now” As well as the peace of mind offered by a quality Personal Protection Plan, added benefits such as tax deductibility and loyalty bonuses are often overlooked.
  • Highlight the pain to a few instead of the benefits for the many? A few dollars out of your pocket can protect your partner, your kids, and even your parents (I’m often told “my parents will look after me”)
  • Exaggerate how good things are now in order to reduce your fear of change? “I don’t need it – I’m young and healthy” Do you think the Victorian marathon runner that got caught in the WA bushfire had that on her list of “things that might happen to me”?!
  • Undercut the credibility, authority or experience of people behind the change? Insurance advisers are one of the least trusted professions, down there on the list with car salesmen!
  • Grab onto the rare thing that could go wrong instead of amplifying the likely thing that will go right? How often have I been told “Insurance companies always get out of paying”? when in actual fact last year a total of $3.5billion was paid to Australians by life insurance companies
  • Fight to retain benefits and status earned only through tenure and longevity? “But I’ve had this policy in place for 15 years” in which case, it’s probably out of date and there might be something better on the market.
  • Slow implementation and decision making down instead of speeding it up? “I need to talk to my wife and think about it” If you went home and said “Darling, I’ve arranged for you to receive $2million if I die prematurely so you can afford to stay in the house and keep the kids at school”, what do you think she’ll say? NO??!

Are you one of the many that has been thinking about looking into personal protection but have been defending the status quo and coming up with reasons to put it off or not bother? Well, the best way to go about it is to talk to a professional adviser.

Sure, you can find information online, but are you really comparing apples with apples? An adviser will know all the tricks of the trade to get you the right cover and the best price, and make the whole process hassle free.

 To find a local adviser, visit the Association of Financial Advisers website or contact Suggars & Associates for a confidential chat about your circumstances.

Welcome to Suggars & Associates November 16, 2009

Posted by Meike Suggars in General.
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Here we are! Suggars & Associates is now on the world wide web, bringing you updates and information about personal insurance, superannuation and investments.

We’ll be posting regular articles about our industry in a bid to answer the myriad of questions our clients ask us, and you’re probably also asking yourself. If you have a question you’d like to ask us, please contact us so we can provide you with an answer.

You can subscribe to receive our articles by email so you can stay abreast of changes and issues in personal insurance, and ensure you have the protection you need.