When you think about it, insurance is a strange thing: you get it in the hope you'll never use it. But if you were to use it, it could make all the difference.
So, how can you make sure it's going to work for you at claim time? This month, we asked our senior insurance adviser Tony McCombs to share his top tips, and the key message was — you don't have to go it alone.
It all starts with getting the right cover for you
"A successful insurance claim starts months, years or even decades before, with getting the right cover for your needs. If you have the right solution from the beginning, it will be the right solution at claim time," says Tony.
"This is where contacting a LifeDirect adviser can make all the difference. Although we don't know what the future holds, we do our best to try and help people get financial protection that's both fit for purpose and budget-friendly. Our quote compare tool is a great place to start, but talking to an adviser can give you invaluable confidence in your choice."
Pre-existing conditions? You may have options
According to Tony, pre-existing medical conditions are another great reason to talk to a LifeDirect adviser from the get-go, when looking for cover.
"Many people don't realise that pre-existing conditions aren't always uncoverable, and so they put off insurance thinking it just won't help them. But that's not the case: it depends on a number of factors. And if there's an opportunity to get those conditions covered, now or after a set wait period, we can help you secure it."
Are you missing out on a claim?
"Our help doesn't end at the quote stage. Over time, we can help you review your plan and understand what's covered," says Tony. "And sometimes, these conversations can reveal opportunities to claim you may not even know about."
Tony recalls a recent conversation he had with a client, who had actually called him to reduce their trauma cover. "We started talking and I asked them whether their health had changed recently. They told me they'd had been diagnosed with a seemingly small medical problem. And because they had only missed one day at work, they didn't think too much of it.
"My response was, 'Well, actually your trauma policy covers that particular medial issue, if it meets the policy definition.' We filed a claim and she received a substantial lump-sum payout well in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Being able to claim can be life-changing — it's not something that you want to miss out on. One of my other clients described it as a 'silver lining to a very dark cloud.'
"The bottom line is this: just because a medical issue seems small, or hasn't caused much disruption to your life, doesn't mean that you can't claim on it. If you're not quite sure, always feel free to contact us."
Make the most of built-in benefits
"A lot of people don't know that their insurance policies have a whole lot of built-in benefits, and knowing the fine print inside and out, we can help you make the most of those too," says Tony.
"For example, some policies often include a Special Events benefit: essentially, this allows you to increase the amount you're covered for in certain circumstances, without having to provide new medical information. Getting married, having a baby, taking out a mortgage — these are all examples of 'special events'. So, by helping clients take advantage of this in-built benefit, we're ensuring they have a stronger safety net in place."
We're your advocate with the insurer
"At LifeDirect, we liaise with the insurers to make sure that our clients maximise their benefits," says Tony. "This is particularly important at claim time. Not so much with health cover, where people usually claim directly with the provider. But for life insurance, income protection and trauma cover, we're generally the first point of contact.
"Those are times when people are under a lot of stress, having to deal with a family member who is seriously ill or worse. So, we assist them every step of the way, taking as much of the stress out of this process as possible."
We can help you avoid rushed decisions
"Coming back to my client who had melanoma and was able to claim, it's important to note that her initial intention was to reduce her cover. And I have plenty of examples of people who contacted me to cancel or reduce their cover, when they could actually claim on it," Tony says.
"My piece of advice here is to get in touch with us. There can be valid reasons to adjust your cover — for example, your circumstances have changed, or your budget is tight. As insurance advisers, we take the time to understand why you're considering this move and can explore alternative options to keep you protected."
The bottom line?
Our quote compare tool is great, but it's just one part of what we can do help Kiwis protect their future. We have a team of friendly insurance advisers on hand for any questions and support you might need.
Disclaimer: Please note that the content provided in this article is intended as an overview and as general information only. While care is taken to ensure accuracy and reliability, the information provided is subject to continuous change and may not reflect current developments or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek independent guidance.