Does Australia have an 'underinsurance' problem?

Family means the world to us. So why is life insurance so low down on our to-do list?

Written by Medibank
A mother and her son preparing to make Almond Butter Chocolate Cups.

Do either of these situations sound familiar? To save a little cash each month, you’ve opted for an insurance policy with less coverage for a lower premium. Or, you’re in good shape, and you’re super busy, so life insurance is currently sitting way down the bottom of your to-do list. If this sounds like you, you’re certainly not alone.

As a country, we’re underinsured. A 2017 report from Rice Warner sheds light on the extent of our working population’s underinsurance gap:

  • Whilst the majority of working Australians do hold some life insurance, it’s the level of cover (with regard to the amount insured) that is often falling short of what would be considered adequate protection.
  • Similarly, the median level of coverage for Total Permanent Disability (TPD) is viewed as an insufficient income replacement for many Australians.
  • Perhaps most alarmingly, only one third have income protection insurance.

Do you know how you’re covered? Chances are that you are one of these underinsured Aussies. It’s definitely worth investigating how you and your family would be supported if the worst were to happen.

Why are we underinsured?

‘Underinsurance’ occurs when you have insurance, but it’s not quite right or enough cover for your personal circumstances, or you don’t have insurance at all.

In their report, Rice Warner point to a general lack of awareness about life insurance which may be behind this issue. There are also some common misconceptions about life insurance, which contribute to underinsurance in Australia. These include:

  • It’s too expensive. Not being able to afford life insurance is a common excuse, but you may be surprised at how affordable it can be. If you have led a healthy lifestyle to date and meet the eligibility criteria, you may find that policies that set the premium based on your circumstances and health factors (known as underwritten policies), like those offered through Medibank Life Insurance, offer cheaper rates for cover rather than non-underwritten policies.
  • I don’t need it. While it’s easy to feel invincible when you’re fit and healthy, we never know what life is going to throw at us down the track. Life insurance is really about managing risk to you and your family. So you should consider what the financial consequences would be for your family if you were to pass away. Things to consider are whether you have significant debts or ongoing lifestyle costs that would be hard to meet if the main breadwinner wasn’t there.
  • I’m covered by my Super. While the life insurance cover that is included in your Super provides a level of life cover, consider whether the amount and the level of cover provided is enough to cut the mustard for your family. When you add up the cost of raising a child and the average home loan amount, consider whether the payout that would be provided by the life insurance in your Super is adequate to cover these ongoing costs.

MORE: Get the facts on life insurance

Getting the appropriate level of life cover to suit your situation will provide a range of benefits for your partner and family if the need arose. From a lump-sum payout to help with mortgage repayments, to help keep up with bills or help maintain your lifestyle, life insurance helps protect what’s important to you.

How do I cover my Family?

Asking yourself the question “do I need life insurance?”, or reviewing your current level of cover, is the first step in preparing for the unexpected, and protecting the people you care about. Although it can be an uncomfortable topic to think about, accepting that life is unpredictable will help equip us for life’s curveballs.

If you already have insurance, how can you be sure that you and your family are adequately covered?

  • Read the fine print. Take the time to read through your product disclosure statements and policy schedule, so you can understand exactly what your insurance does and doesn’t cover, and for how much. If you don’t understand something, give your insurer a call to clarify.
  • Revisit your finances. Have a look at your current finances and chat to your accountant if you have one. If you’re fortunate enough to have savings put aside for emergencies, figure out how long they’d last.
  • Update your policy. Chat to your insurer to update your policy to the right level of cover for you. And any time your family’s circumstances change or there’s a new addition, get back in touch to make sure your policy still provides enough cover.

You can get a quote online, visit us in store, or call 1300 722 568 find out about your options, and apply over the phone.

And if you’re a Medibank member, you’ll get a 10% discount on your premiums for your Medibank Life Insurance policy.

Father hugs his daughter

Help your family's life go on, even after yours

Apply for cover for up to $2.5 Million depending on age and income with Medibank Life Insurance.

This is general advice only. Terms & Conditions apply.

Important things you should know

Any advice provided is general only and doesn’t consider your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should carefully read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (which sets out the product terms, conditions and exclusions), Target Market Determination and Financial Services Guide available here to ensure the product is right for you. Medibank life insurance products are issued by the insurer, Swiss Re Life & Health Australia Limited ABN 74 000 218 306, AFSL 324908 (Swiss Re). Medibank life insurance products are distributed by Greenstone Financial Services Pty Ltd ABN 53 128 692 884, AFSL 343079 (GFS), and promoted by Medibank Private Limited ABN 47 080 890 259, AR 286089 (Medibank Private). Medibank Private is an authorised representative of GFS.

For more information about how Medibank handles your personal information see our Privacy Policy. The Privacy Collection Notice provides more information about our partner’s privacy practices and policy.

Written by Medibank

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