Insurance is used as financial protection for a variety of personal and business purposes – for example, to protect income, repay debts, or provide for dependants. To minimise the loss that may result from your death or serious disability, it’s imperative to understand the importance of insurance.
Protect your greatest asset – your income
What is your greatest asset? Your home and its contents? Your car? Your life? Many people insure these assets, yet, all too often they don’t adequately protect what is potentially their greatest asset – their ability to earn an income.
Take a moment to consider what could happen to your lifestyle if you were unable to work for an extended period due to illness or injury. Your expenses could quickly run down your savings. You may even need to sell your investments to make ends meet.
By taking out income protection insurance you can protect your greatest asset and avoid putting your family’s lifestyle at risk
If you suffer an illness or injury and are unable to work, income protection insurance can pay you a monthly benefit (usually 75% of your pre-tax income) to replace lost earnings. You can generally claim these premiums as a tax deduction.
You can choose a range of benefit payment periods, with maximum cover usually up to age 65. You can also choose a range of waiting periods normally between 14 days and 2 years.
If you’re like most people, you’ve used debt to finance a range of lifestyle purchases, including the family home. However, if you die, the loan repayments will still need to be made, even though the salary your family has relied upon is no longer available.
Your loan documents may even contain a clause that requires immediate repayment if you die or become disabled. However, sometimes this is not feasible, and the only option may be to sell the underlying asset to repay the lender. When this asset is your family home, your dependants could be in the unenviable position of either having to re-finance the loan or sell and downgrade their residence.
Maintain your family’s lifestyle
You also need to consider whether your family will be able to meet their ongoing expenses.
Death, permanent disability or a serious medical condition can have a big impact on a family’s finances and standard of living. If something should happen to the main breadwinner, the emotional strain could be significant.
Protect the homemaker
It’s also potentially dangerous to overlook the insurance needs of the person who predominantly takes care of the home and the children.
If something should happen to the homemaker, the family can suffer financially, as well as emotionally. Despite advances of modern technology, there are still plenty of things that need to be done around the house and hiring someone to provide home help and child care services can cost a lot of money.
To protect your household (and avoid putting a big dent in the budget) it’s important to include the homemaker when developing suitable insurance strategies for your family
Keep your business running
While income protection insurance should still be considered, it’s also important to protect the very thing that generates your income – your business.
By taking out business expenses insurance, you can cover certain ongoing expenses and keep your business running while you recover.
If you are self-employed or in a small partnership, business expenses insurance can help you meet 100% of your share of eligible business overheads, should you be unable to work due to illness or injury.
This can help keep your business afloat and ensure that, in the worst case scenario, there is still a business to sell should the need arise.
Expenses that can be covered with this type of insurance typically include, amongst other things, office rent and mortgage payments, equipment or vehicle leasing costs and utility bills such as electricity, heating and water.
Cover the key person in your business
The most valuable business asset is the one that produces the most profit – your staff. Material assets can be easily replaced, staff can not.
The loss of a key staff member can have a substantial impact on profitability, operational management and the goodwill of your business. Many businesses also find there are no suitable candidates readily available within the organization and it can take substantial time and money to recruit and train an external replacement.
By covering your key person, you can help fund the loss of a valuable employee by providing an injection of cash for a revenue or capital purpose.
Establish a Will for your Business
Establish a Will for your business by creating what is known as a Buy / Sell Agreement.
A Buy / Sell Agreement is a legal contract which can facilitate the orderly transfer of a person’s share in a business to the remaining owners when certain trigger events occur (such as death or serious disability).
To help fund the transfer, the agreement normally uses life insurance so that sufficient capital becomes available to buy out the departing owner’s share in the business.