https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/120301369/coronavirus-kiwis-are-seeking-income-protection-insurance–but-beware Coronavirus business package will be ‘most significant’ Jacinda Ardern will announce as PM
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will announce an economic stimulus package on Tuesday.
With the New Zealand economy staring down a recession and likely job losses due to the coronavirus, people are starting to approach insurers about the implications for their life and health insurance policies.
New Zealand now has eight confirmed cases of Covid-19, and has tightened border restrictions to help stop the spread of the disease which is causing major upheaval in this country and around the world.
The coronavirus is creating an insurance nightmare for New Zealand travellers, while many businesses which are struggling with supply chain disruptions and a cashflow crunch are not covered by business disruption insurance.
The problem for people who want to protect their income if they lose their job or business is that income protection insurance will only pay out if someone is off work because of illness, not because they have been made redundant.
Most income protection policies have a stand-down period of up to three months before they pay out – so in almost all cases, people would recover before a benefit could be paid.
“We’re beginning to receive questions from our customers about what Covid-19 may mean for their life and health insurance policies,” said Nick Stanhope, CEO of New Zealand’s largest insurer, AIA New Zealand.
“Our insurance products do not contain any exclusions for pandemics, so as with any claim, customers would need to meet the ordinary claim eligibility criteria for their particular insurance benefits.”
AIA’s income protection products provide a monthly benefit to customers who are incapacitated and unable to work due to illness or injury, including customers incapacitated and unable to work due to Covid-19, he said.
“However, it’s important to note that these products do not cover otherwise healthy customers unable to work due to self-isolation and nor do these products cover the impact of an economic downturn or business interruption.
“Customers may purchase redundancy cover, but should note that stand-down periods and other limitations apply.
“It’s important to us that customers understand what they are and are not covered for. In this time of uncertainty, we advise New Zealanders to take stock of what insurance they have, and to speak to their insurer or financial adviser before buying or cancelling their cover,” Stanhope said.
Insurance and financial services ombudsman Karen Stevens said income protection insurance generated a lot of complaints from customers compared with other insurance products, generally relating to being refused cover despite an illness or injury.
“We’ve seen over the years a lot of very upset people because they have either had some benefit terminated or they’ve never been able to qualify for it,” Stevens said.
“You can buy redundancy cover, sometimes people take it out in conjunction with mortgage protection and that covers them for redundancy.
“The cases we’ve had here, in some cases somebody actually hasn’t been made redundant, they’ve chosen to stop working for the employer, or they’ve had a fixed-term contract, or they haven’t met the number of hours that they were required to meet under the policy.
“That one is quite a particular cover that people often won’t meet in terms of what’s required to get a benefit under the redundancy cover.”
Income protection could be expensive, depending on the type of policy, and most often it was people with high incomes who took it out, she said.