If you’re one of the 15 million Australians with a superannuation account, you’ll probably know which fund(s) you’re with, as well as having an approximate idea of your balance. You may even know about how your money is being invested by the superfund.
However, what many people don’t realise is that it’s also likely you will have some sort of disability insurance cover through your superfund. This is especially important if an illness or injury affects your ability to work.
In this article, we want to give you a better idea of what superannuation insurance is, when you may be able to use it and how the claims process works.
What is insurance through my superfund?
As well as helping members save for their retirement, most superfunds offer insurance benefits that cover disability, illness and/or death. Successfully claiming a disability benefit through your superfund can result in a lump sum payment.
Some forms of insurance that superfunds offer are optional – meaning you need to opt-in to take them up – but most funds also have what’s known as “default cover”, which is coverage you’re automatically entitled to as a member of the fund.
In 2015, it was estimated that about 90% of Australians will have some sort of cover through their superfund.
Can I make a workers’ compensation / motor accident claim and a super claim for the same event?
Yes, you certainly can. But it’s important to keep in mind that the legal test to determine whether you’re eligible for a benefit will be quite different depending on the claim, and if you’re claiming through your insurance, or your superfund.
For example, if you’ve been injured at work in Victoria you can make a compensation claim through WorkCover. In this instance, you may be entitled to compensation - even if you end up returning to work - or never take time off at all.
However, in the case of a superfund claim, the concept of total and permanent disability (TPD) is an important factor when determining if you’re eligible to receive an insurance benefit.
What is total and permanent disability (TPD)?
TPD claims are claims in which an injured person can establish they’ve become permanently unfit for their usual employment, or any other employment for which they are reasonably suited, based on their education, training or experience.
Also known as disability cover, TPD is one of the most common insurances offered in “default cover” packages provided by superannuation funds.
TPD payments are usually paid as a lump sum and, depending on the terms of your policy and the circumstances of your injury, can be significant.
What if I have more than one super fund?
It’s extremely common for people to have more than one super fund.
You may have heard people telling you to “roll over” your multiple funds into a single fund to avoid fees and premiums on unused accounts. While it is important to protect your savings from being whittled down by unnecessary payments, it’s also crucial to keep in mind that different super funds offer different insurance policies, some of which may be more advantageous in one set of circumstances to another.
For this reason, we always tell people who are injured and off work to avoid rolling over their funds until they’ve spoken with an expert.
When should I contact a legal professional about my superfund insurance?
As soon as practical after your injury.
Although finding out whether you have insurance through your super is relatively simple, working out what sort of insurance it is, what circumstances you’re covered for, and how the insurance relates to your circumstances can be much more complex.
A lawyer experienced in the field can give you advice on the matter straight away. And of course, with Slater and Gordon, the first consultation is always free**.
If you or someone you know has been injured or diagnosed with an illness and is worried about getting back to work, simply get in touch online or call us on 1800 555 777.
**Some conditions apply. See: https://www.slatergordon.com.au/firm/legal-costs/free-initial-appointment for details.