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Do Medicare & Health Insurance fully cover cancer treatment? Not always… December 6, 2016

Posted by Meike Suggars in Personal Insurance, Trauma Insurance.
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Our Medicare system is one of the best public health systems in the world. Combined with health insurance, it means most Australians get the medical treatment they need. But not always.

Medical research is constantly advancing so new drugs are being developed all the time. Imagine if there was a drug available that might help you win your battle against cancer, but it was too new to be funded by the government. Imagine if that meant it would leave you hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket?

This is a possibility, and a reality for some Australians, as this article in the Herald Sun from 2014 explains (also available here in PDF).

There is often a large out of pocket cost for patients who want the best care, even with Medicare and Health Insurance. This gap could be funded by using up your savings, taking out an extra mortgage, borrowing from family or friends, or with a Trauma Insurance payout.

Trauma insurance can give you emergency cash if you’re diagnosed with a serious illness like cancer so you can focus on recovery without worrying about money. 

Talk to your financial adviser or contact Suggars & Associates to find out if you should have Trauma insurance.

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What is Trauma Insurance? November 3, 2016

Posted by Meike Suggars in Personal Insurance, Trauma Insurance.
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To put it simply, it’s a lump sum of emergency cash that can be paid if you’re diagnosed with a serious illness so you can focus on recovery without financial worry.

Most trauma policies cover around 40 specific medical conditions. To qualify for a payout, your diagnosis needs to meet the specific medical definition outlined in your policy for one of those conditions. The most common Trauma claims are for cancer and heart attack.

Zurich is one of Australia’s largest retail insurers[1] and in 2015 they paid $33,800,000 in trauma claims. For women, 80% of these were for cancer and 9% for heart attack with cancer accounting for 51% of claims for men and 24% for heart attack[2]. Most other Australian insurers have similar statistics.

Trauma insurance can pay a set amount (the insured benefit). Unlike health insurance which requires you to spend money and then get a rebate, trauma is paid as a lump sum and you can spend it on anything you need to deal with your medical condition. You may be eligible to claim on your trauma as well as your income protection for the same medical condition if it prevents you from working.

You don’t need to be working to apply for trauma insurance. This insurance is available from the age of 16 and your policy can remain in force until you turn 70.

What Conditions are Covered?

So, other than malignant cancer and heart attack what are some of the other conditions that are covered? Most policies also cover:

  • Stroke
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Motor neurone disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Major burns
  • Major head trauma
  • Organ transplant
  • Benign brain tumour
  • Blindness
  • Chronic kidney, liver and lung disease
  • Dementia
  • Advanced diabetes
  • Paraplegia
  • Occupationally or medically acquired HIV

Who should have Trauma Insurance?

If any of the following apply to you, then you could consider trauma insurance:

  • You want the best medical care, regardless of cost or what your health insurance/Medicare covers
  • You want to replace lost income while you’re not working
  • You have school-aged kids and you’re the primary carer
  • Your spouse would want to take time off work to look after you if you were diagnosed with a serious illness
  • You have a mortgage
  • You’re guarantor on someone else’s loan
  • You’re single and are solely responsible for your financial security
  • You’ve got children and would want to take time off work if they became seriously sick or injured

piggy bank.jpg

How much does Trauma Insurance cost?

Your premium is calculated based on your age, gender, whether you smoke and of course the amount of cover and features you want. Your medical history can also impact your premium.

Stepped premiums are cheaper in the short term but increase each year with age and can become expensive when you’re most likely to need protection in your 40s. Level premiums are more expensive in the short term but are generally lower in cost over the long term as they do not increase with age so your policy is more likely to remain affordable as you get older.

The following table gives a guide for illustration purposes (calculated on 20/10/2016 – assumes client has not previously suffered a medical condition or disease).

Non-smoker office worker $100,000 Premier Trauma cover with reinstatement
– stepped premium
Female Male
Age 18 $20-30/m $20-30/m
Age 30 $25-35/m $25-30/m
Age 45 $65-85/m $60-80/m
Age 55 $130-190/m $180-270/m

To find out the best way for you to get trauma cover, speak to a financial adviser as there are different options available from different insurers and some will protect you better than others. They will be able to provide you with a firm premium quote specific to your needs, which may also include other types of insurance such as term life, TPD and income protection.

The information contained in this document is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser.


[1] Source: https://www.pwc.com.au/publications/assets/insurance-facts-figures-may2016.pdf

[2] Source: https://www.zurich.com.au/content/dam/australia/life_insurance/marketing/Zurich-Australia-facts-about-zurich-claims.pdf

Dreamboard – Greg April 23, 2015

Posted by Meike Suggars in Dreamboard - Client Stories, Income Protection.
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DreamBoard - Suggars & Associates Client Stories

Meet Greg, aged 35 & on income protection claim since November 2014

I can’t recommend Suggars & Associates highly enough. I have had income protection insurance for over 10 years and I’d like to take this opportunity to tell my story.

A little over 6 months ago, I was in a serious motorcycle accident where I was fortunate enough to have only broken my leg. I needed two surgeries and am still in the process of rehabilitation to the point where I can get back to work. My accident could have been much worse and there is so much that I have had to deal with but my finances was not one of them. I hate to think how much additional stress I would have been under if I didn’t have my policy.The peace of mind that came along with the successful claim was more than worth the price I had paid for my policy over the last 10 years.

Not only this but the team at Suggars & Associates have walked me through everything that needed to happen and has continued to support me through the ongoing process.

Again, I would definitely suggest Suggars & Associates. The peace of mind is worth every penny and hopefully you never have to use it.

Increase on complaints for non-payment of life insurance by super funds March 5, 2014

Posted by Meike Suggars in Disability Insurance (TPD), Life Insurance, Personal Insurance, Superannuation.
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Life insurance payouts refused by super funds

As reported in Herald Sun 1 March 2014

 

Download the article here: Herald Sun article Super Headache dated 1 March 2014

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.

Your home or your mortgage? October 2, 2012

Posted by Meike Suggars in Personal Insurance, Trauma Insurance.
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Of course we’re all invincible and “it won’t happen to me”. But with statistics showing cardiovascular disease kills one Australian every 24 minutes (ABS reported ischaemic heart diseases were the cause of death for 21708 people Aust in 2010) and cancer rates at 1 in 3, it happens to someone.

Thankfully, medical advances and earlier detection mean chances of survival are also increasing.

But surviving an illness like this can be devastating both physically and emotionally, with huge changes to lifestyle often required. Perhaps a new career, or part-time hours? Or maybe even early retirement.

These changes often incur expenses in addition to the cost of medical care and rehabilitation. Getting stressed because you’re struggling to pay bills or cover mortgage repayments is hardly going to help you on your way to recovery and may even trigger a relapse. Imagine not being able to afford to survive!

Home Sweet Home

As Dr Marius Barnard said “medically you may or will survive [a traumatic illness], but FINANCIALLY you may die”.

Who’s Dr Barnard? He’s the guy that invented critical illness (aka trauma) insurance. Trauma is the link in your financial safety net that protects your financial security in an instance like this. You receive a lump sum of emergency cash to spend how you need to so you can just focus on recovery without worrying what it will cost you financially.

If you’re aged 15-63 you’re eligible for this cover and it doesn’t matter whether you’re working or not so it’s a great one for stay-at-home parents. And if you’ve got a family history of cancer or heart disease, then you should definitely find out more about trauma insurance.

Talk to your financial adviser or call Suggars & Associates to find out more.

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.

Beware: no forms or medicals! September 20, 2012

Posted by Meike Suggars in Income Protection, Life Insurance, Personal Insurance.
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If you ever have the TV on during the day, you can’t miss the ads promoting life insurance and funeral plans with “guaranteed acceptance”. They show off that there are no long forms to complete or medical tests needed to get insurance with them. They make getting insurance with them easy – just call now and you can do it over the phone…

But did you know that if you don’t complete an application form with medical questions when putting insurance place, you get a blanket exclusion on all pre-existing conditions? And when you claim, that’s when you have to complete the long forms and get the medical tests done because that’s when YOU have to prove that whatever illness you’re claiming for was not a pre-existing condition.

So as well as dealing with the stress of illness, you’ve also got the stress of dealing with the insurance assessor. Easy? Um, no. And you may not actually get an insurance payout, even though you’ve been paying your premiums every month!

If you do the medical form at the time of application, the insurer decides if they’re willing to accept your application based on your medical history. If they do apply exclusions you will get notice in writing of exactly what those exclusions involve. Everything else is covered by your new insurance.

Beware: Bull roams freeHere’s an example. Mary has RSI in her right wrist. She applies for life insurance and income protection over the phone after seeing an ad on TV. There are no medical questions and no medical tests – as the ad said, she’s guaranteed to be accepted. Three years later, Mary injures her wrist playing sport and lodges an income protection claim because she can’t work. But this claim is rejected because Mary’s condition is complicated by her RSI and she already had the RSI at the time she applied for insurance

 If Mary had completed a long-form application with medical questions, her application probably would have been accepted with a right-wrist exclusion. That’s terrible you say?! Well, no not really – she’s knows exactly what she’s covered for (most things) and what she’s not so there’s no guess work or uncertainty. The whole point of insurance is to provide a safety net, which her policy would do even with the exclusion.

So, before you jump on the phone and get your “guaranteed-accepted” insurance policy with no medical questions, ask yourself if you really know what you’re getting and what you’ll be covered for.

Call your financial adviser or Suggars & Associates and we’ll help you get the right policy in place as easily as possible.

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.

Image courtesy Noel Reynolds

Dreamboard – Jennifer August 23, 2012

Posted by Meike Suggars in Dreamboard - Client Stories, Income Protection, Personal Insurance.
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DreamBoard - Client Stories

Meet Jennifer, aged 51 & on Income Protection claim

First thought when you found out your claim was successful and you were going to get paid by your insurer?
I signed up in 1996 for income protection insurance.  My business was doing really well and I was 36 years of age, I had very good health, although I declared previous illnesses.  Within 6 weeks of signing up I went to Cairns to sell books and was bitten by a mozzy and came down with a RossRiver style virus.  I was extremely ill for several months and I was amazed at the ease that my claim was paid and that I was receiving money that allowed me to pay my bills, after I only had the insurance for six weeks!

I have had several claims since then, unfortunately in 2003 I had a series of bad falls where I ruptured a disk in my back, eventually in 2007 I had a spinal operation.  I have now been on claim since 2007 and although we have had a great deal of opposition from the insurance company to pay me regularly I can honestly say without Suggars and Assoc and their advice, I would not have been able to deal with the machinations of the insurance company on my own. 

Dreamboard - Jennifer's insurance claim story
What would have happened if you hadn’t been insured?
I hate to think what my life would have been like now if I hadn’t taken that insurance out when I was well and able person.   I wouldn’t have my business, I probably would not have been able to continue my rehabilitation which has been long, continual and ongoing.  When you are 36 you can-not imagine being in your 50’s and disabled.  It is true to say that you never know what is going to happen in the future but taking out and having the advice from Suggars and Associates has been a very important part of my recovery.  I will add that as I am now permanently disabled I will be receiving money from the insurance company until age 65.

How did working with Suggars & Associates help you during the claim process?
Insurance companies can be tricky,  they can make you jump through many hoops and can make your life hell at times.  Particularly when you are in pain or on drugs for the pain and perhaps thinking less than clearly.   It is very important to have people like Suggars and Associates who are there for you, they don’t work for the insurance company they work for you.  This is very important and when you are ill you need someone working for you.

Anything else to say?
Obviously over such a long period of time I have come to know Jeff and Meike very well.  Mostly Jeff has helped me but it is wonderful to see Meike Suggars coming into the business and offering the same excellent service and attention to detail that her Father has given me since 1996.  I also have my Superannuation and my Life Insurance organized through Suggars and Associates, with no problems at all.  Although I haven’t used my Life Insurance yet, nor do I plan to for some time, LOL!

Dreamboard – Jess August 6, 2012

Posted by Meike Suggars in Dreamboard - Client Stories, Income Protection.
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DreamBoard - Client Stories

Meet Jess, aged 26 & on Income Protection claim

First thought when you found out your claim was successful and you were going to get paid by your insurer?
I was shocked, and incredibly surprised seeing as though for one thing, I didn’t think it would be a viable claim in the first place and second, because it took SOOOOO long because the company was such a pain! I never thought we would get through it – but we did! 

What would have happened if you hadn’t been insured?
I wouldn’t have been able to take the time needed, as I am now, to do as much rehabilitation work as possible to get as well recovered as I can be, so I can one day get back to doing some kind of work.
Dreamboard - Jess, income protection claim
How did working with Suggars & Associates help you during the claim process?
Apart from being frustrated at the length of time that it took to go through – which had nothing to do with Suggars & Associates; the holdup was coming from the other end – it was so easy. There would be no way that I would have even thought to have claimed if it weren’t for Meike, and I certainly wouldn’t have had the patience that she did to see it through to the very end

Anything else to say?
Just a big THANK YOU!

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.