• Financial protection for families
  • Financial protection for wage & salary earners
  • Financial protection for business owners

What happens when Pharmac doesn’t cover it?

There has been plenty of buzz in the media about Pharmac and unfunded cancer drugs – but what is it all about? Read on for an outline of what Pharmac is, and how it works with our public healthcare system. And most importantly, what you can do to get affordable access to those treatments, whether they are publicly funded or not…

What is Pharmac and how does it work?

As you may know, Pharmac is a government agency that is responsible for deciding which medicines, vaccines and other treatments will be publicly funded in New Zealand. They also assess the continued performance of currently-funded pharmaceuticals. The agency has a finite budget every year, so its decisions are based on the recommendations of sub-committees and the results of clinical trials.

Unfortunately, this limited budget means that many potentially life-saving or life-extending drugs are not presently being funded, adding a financial burden to the emotional strain.

What does this mean for Kiwis?

Some ‘protest’ action has seen important treatments like Keytruda and Herceptin receive funding, but generally speaking, it’s best not to rely on Pharmac being able to amend its approved schedule – especially not at short notice.

We never plan on falling ill, but life has a way of making its own plans sometimes. If you find yourself in need of life-saving medication, but Pharmac doesn’t fund it, the alternative is to privately pay the costs of obtaining the treatment – often reaching thousands of dollars each month. For many New Zealanders, this just isn’t viable.

What can we do?

A good way to avoid possible heartache in the future is to sort out your ‘safety net’ today – the most effective of which is Health Insurance.

This Insurance type gives you the much-needed option of having private specialist/diagnostic treatments for an illness or condition, avoiding public hospital waiting lists. Plus, something you may not know, certain policies also cover the cost of non-Pharmac funded medicines.

This is a very important thing to consider when taking out Health cover. What would you do if you had to pay for treatment? And if you couldn’t afford it, could you afford to wait? This is where the right Health Insurance policy can make all the difference.

Remember: not all Insurance policies are equal, so if you’d like to talk about your needs and options, please get in touch. Finding the right cover could mean receiving the treatments you need when you need them, without the added worry of where the money is going to come from.

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 development or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek advice from a financial adviser.

Self-employed: do you know your ACC options?

Are you paying over the odds on your ACC levies? Every dollar counts when you’re self-employed, and having control over what you’re paying for various types of protection is crucial.

If you’d like to find out if you’re paying the right levies for the right cover, read on…

Close the gap, save and strengthen your cover.

Your ACC levy entitles you to ACC Cover Plus insurance, which pays 80% of your past 12 months’ taxable income in the event of a personal injury. In a nutshell, ACC covers you should you be injured and unable to work, but it does not cover time off work for illness or medical conditions. And here’s the thing: according to research*, New Zealanders are 1.8 times more likely to be out of work for six months or more as a result of illness, than they are due to an accident.

Enter ACC CoverPlus Extra.

Available specifically for self-employed Kiwis, ACC Cover Plus Extra offers three key benefits:

  1. You can agree on an amount of cover with ACC in the event of injury to suit your personal circumstances.
  2. You’ll receive 100% of the agreed amount until you are back at work full-time.
  3. You don’t need to prove your income in the event of a claim; often meaning you’ll receive your compensation faster.
  4. And importantly, by being in control of how much ACC compensation you would need if you were injured, you can choose to reduce your ACC levy and free-up funds to secure stronger cover that will protect you in the event of illness.

How to find savings and strengthen your protection.

Let’s get together. We can take a look at your existing ACC compensation levels and levies and your private insurance – income protection, health or trauma – needs. A simple review will highlight what you could save on your ACC levies to suit your personal circumstances, and the areas we could apply those savings to secure stronger cover in the event of an illness. Get in touch today for greater control over your protection.

Find out more about ACC CoverPlus Extra by clicking here.

*Income Protection Survey, July 2015, conducted by Horizon Research and presented to the Financial Services Council, Mind the Gap Seminar, 17 November 2015.

An Adviser Disclosure Statement is available free and upon request.

Seven tips to keep your credit card in check

Seven tips to keep your credit card in check

Credit cards are useful financial tools, as they can help you manage cash flow and fund big purchases. But they can also lead you down to the path of costly debt.

Here are seven ways to avoid building up debt and keep your credit card in line with your finances.

Manage needs vs wants

It may sound obvious, but it’s no less important to mention. While a credit card can be useful, when it’s brought out for things that aren’t strictly necessary, it can be damaging to your finances – especially if more and more little ‘want’ purchases accumulate on it.

Quick tip: Before swiping your credit card, take a step back and evaluate not just what is being purchased, but why.

Pay it down in full

Is debt lingering in your account, and accruing more and more interest over time? While credit cards are all about convenience, they can also make it easy to lose track of your spending – and that’s when a bit of discipline can go a long way.

Quick tip: If you can, aim to pay the debt off in one lump sum – and if not all debts, then at least aim for the high-interest debts first and go from there.

Check the fees

Most credit card providers will have little fees for different aspects of your account. For example, there will typically be an annual account fee – but there can also be a fee for additional cards, going over the limit, and using it for foreign currency.

Quick tip: It’s a good idea to take a moment to see what your fees are and keep them in mind. By knowing what to expect, you will be more confident and in control of your financial life.

Align your payment date with your salary

Sometimes, an easy way to keep your credit card debt under control (and avoid spending more than you earn) is to get the timing of your payments right.

Quick tip: Are you paid weekly, fortnightly or monthly? Aligning your payday with the day you make repayments may help you better see the amount of money shifting accounts.

Reduce your limit to the minimum

Hitting the limit on your credit card can be an excellent incentive to step back and consider your spending…

Quick tip: Rather than leaving the limit on the default or higher, encouraging you to splash out, try bringing that limit down as low as it will go. That way, you might be less tempted to splurge.

Consider a debit card instead

If you’re all squared up on your debts, maybe now’s the time to think about ditching the credit card altogether.

Quick tip: If you like the convenience of making direct purchases from your bank account, but don’t like accumulating extra fees and debt, would a debit card be a better option?

Whichever tips you decide to follow, the most important thing is to be mindful of how you’re using your credit card and the impact on your finances. A little planning and a healthy dose of transparency can help you save your hard-earned dollars.

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 development or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek advice from a financial adviser.

Have enough Life Insurance to cover your mortgage?

Have enough Life Insurance to cover your mortgage?

Do you have a mortgage? Along with Income Protection and Trauma Cover, Life Insurance is one of the types of covers that are best suited to a homeowner’s needs. But how can you make sure that you have the right level of coverage? Here are some tips to get you started.

Don’t go for the bare minimum

This may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s crucial not to focus only on paying off the face value of the mortgage should you pass away. Sure, it seems logical to have Life Insurance cover for $500,000 against a $500,000 mortgage, for example, but your surviving family most likely won’t just be paying off the mortgage.

What about bills and other financial obligations, for example?

A good rule of thumb to figure out your Insurance needs is to multiply your annual salary by the number of years left until retirement (e.g. $30,000 salary per year x 25 becomes $750,000 cover, on top of mortgage costs) – but this is only a guideline and may be too much or too little for some. If you’re not sure what’s best for your situation, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Consider the aftermath

Besides income loss, there are other costs to take into account – whether that’s clearing old debts, looking after dependents, or paying for a funeral (though some policies will include these expenses in addition to the cover amount).

Your spouse/partner should be able to rely on a lump payment that will cover not only the mortgage repayments, but allow them to settle your affairs.

Think about your assets

Don’t think you can cover both a mortgage and those necessary personal costs in your Life Insurance policy?

Take some time and consider any major assets you have – for example, business interests, property, investments – and how you can use them to offset or supplement the level of cover your family will need. Also, it’s a good idea to have a Will in place, so this is more likely to happen the way you want it.

Compare your options

There’s a myriad of Insurance options available out there, which can make finding the ones you really need a bit challenging. But that’s why we are here: to help you find the right level of coverage for your needs, goals and budget.

Rather than jumping at the first policy that comes along, step back and talk to us: we can assist you and ensure you’re choosing the best solution for your family.

We can help

At the end of the day, paying off your mortgage with your Life Insurance policy is about more than simply covering the face-value costs; it’s about taking into account the extra costs and fees that come with a passing, and preparing for the long-term loss of income.

And don’t forget – talking it through with an Insurance adviser like us is always best, for an expert take on your personal situation.

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 development or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek advice from a financial adviser.

‘Secrets’ of a successful Insurance claim

Time to make an Insurance claim? Getting in touch with us is always the first best step: we can help you through the process and let you know what you need to do.

But there are some other things you can do to help your chances of a successful claim. Read on for some key examples…

Complete the form in full

As your adviser, we are always here to help you with the paperwork. But if you have to complete any forms, make sure you give the Insurance provider all the information they need to assess your claim.

You need to answer every question on the claim form fully, or state why it is not relevant. Insurance providers use this information to decide if you have a valid claim, and therefore whether they will pay your claim. If you don’t provide all the information that is needed, it could delay your claim being approved, or even worse, it could be declined because you haven’t demonstrated a valid claim exists.

Read your Insurance policy

Not sure if you are covered? Once again, we are here to answer any questions you may have – big and small. In the meantime, taking a moment to read your policy is always a good idea (especially before submitting a claim).

Depending on the type of policy you have, some claim events might be excluded or only covered in certain circumstances. If you are unsure whether your event is covered, check with us: we can help you make sure you are following the provider’s claims process, submitting the claim to the right person or department.

Gather all the necessary details

While we work hard to take the hassle out of claim time, there are still things that only you can do.

Depending on the type of Insurance you have, for example, you may need to gather the evidence and write a complete account of what happened. The more information you can provide, the clearer everything is for your insurer – which may reduce the amount of time for your claim to be paid.

Accuracy is one of the secret ingredients of a successful Insurance claim, but with the amount of information you need to provide, claim time can be stressful. Our advice is: talk to us, as we can help you prepare and file your claim. Most importantly, we are an advocate for you, so if something is a bit ‘grey’ we can liaise with the Insurance provider on your behalf, for a hopefully successful outcome.

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 development or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek advice from a financial adviser.

Why you may need a Will

Do I need a will? You may have pondered this question at some point in your life, but procrastination soon set in. Or perhaps you thought it would be difficult, time-consuming or costly – and put the matter on ice. Besides, if you’re like most people, thinking about your passing isn’t high on your list of enjoyable things to do.

But what if we told you that preparing a Will is a simple, quick and inexpensive way to ensure that your affairs are managed smoothly after you are gone? Plus, the peace of mind it provides is priceless.

Here are some of the reasons why a Will is such an important document.

You can provide for the people you love

A Will is a legal document that states exactly what you want to happen to the life you have built, should the unexpected happen. You can decide how you’d like your estate to be divided – making sure that each asset goes exactly to the right people, at the right time. If you have young children, you can also appoint a legal guardian to take care of them.

Lastly, bear in mind that having a Will in place could make it much easier for your family and friends to deal with your estate at an already difficult time.

You may have more to leave than you think

According to independent research commissioned by Perpetual Guardian, unfortunately nearly four in 10 New Zealanders don’t have a valid Will. As we said, procrastination and misunderstanding around costs are among the main inhibitors. Also, some may believe they’re too young or that they don’t have enough assets to warrant making a Will.

As a matter of fact, if you look at what you’ve built and achieved so far, you might find that you have more than you expect. A house, KiwiSaver, investments, insurance policies – yes, they all count as assets, and you can pass their value on to your loved ones.

Keeping up with your life

Once you have a Will, it’s important to keep it up-to-date as the years go by. Your Will should reflect your situation at all times, that’s why you may need to review it whenever a big life change occurs. The birth of a child, a separation, the purchase of a house… These are all life events that could affect your Will.

As we said, it would be great to have a chat and talk about your wishes. Remember, writing a Will is one of the most significant things you can do for yourself and your family – and it can be done in just minutes.

An Adviser Disclosure Statement is available free and upon request.

A beginner’s guide to home-buying methods

Buying your first home is one of life’s big milestones. Maybe you’ve been renting for a while and would like to settle into your own place, or you’re looking to join the property investment market.

Whatever the case, here’s an outline of four common sale methods, so you know what to expect when the time comes along.

Auction

Over the last few years, there has been a lot of media attention around real estate auctions, as they can be a very efficient way to sell.

But from a buyer’s point of view, purchasing by auction can be a little intimidating. While there is a potential for savings on the value of the property, everything happens really fast and it can be easy to blow the budget.

Most importantly, auctions are ‘unconditional’: once you have won the house, you are committed to purchasing it. So before starting to bid, research the property as much as possible and make sure your finance is ready. As for the deposit, you will usually need to pay a 10% deposit on the day, and the rest of it on settlement day.

Remember: even if the house of your dreams is being sold by auction, you can still make a pre-auction offer at any time. The vendor may accept it and cancel the auction, or move the auction to an earlier date to see if anyone else beats your price.

Negotiation

Negotiations (or ‘asking price’) are one of the most widely-used methods of selling property, allowing for both buyers and sellers to have some ‘leverage’ in the sale. There’s no end date for offers, so you can make one at any time.

Unlike auctions, with this home-buying method, you can either make an unconditional offer or attach conditions. For example, you may want to wait for a property inspection report or for your current home to be sold – or perhaps your mortgage hasn’t been approved yet.

These are all valid reasons to make a conditional offer. While unconditional offers usually get more attention, don’t forget that buying a house is a long-term financial commitment – and a decision that shouldn’t be made on the spot.

Tender

Buying by tender means that anyone who’s interested in the property can send in a written confidential offer (‘the tender’) by a certain deadline. In some cases, the vendor may give a price indication, but buyers are still welcome to offer more or less than that.

Just like negotiations, buying by tender allows you to attach terms and conditions to your offer. However, you’ll need to include a cheque for the requested deposit on the property (which will get returned if the tender is unsuccessful).

What’s next? The tenders are all presented to the seller, who will then decide whether they want to accept one of them or negotiate further.

Deadline sale

In many respects, a deadline sale is very similar to the tender process; the property is marketed for a set period of time, and buyers can make an offer at any time before then. Once again, as a buyer, you are allowed to attach terms and conditions.

However, one of the advantages of deadline sales over tender is that it has less ‘rules’ to follow; for example, offers are made on a standard sale and purchase agreement, rather than specific tender documents…

At the end of the day, all these methods have their pros and cons, but no matter what road you end up taking, asking for expert help is always a good idea. Getting your finance ready and having the property inspected by a builder adds confidence and peace of mind to the process.

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 development or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek advice from a financial adviser.



Take control of your Insurance premiums in four steps

Like to keep your Insurance premiums as low as possible? While premiums usually increase with age, there are things you can actively do to reduce your premium costs – including choosing the right premium type.

Check out these four steps to be in control of your finances.

Building healthy long-term habits

Positive things like quitting cigarettes or reducing drinking can go a long way in keeping your premiums as low as possible.

Insurance premiums have ‘loadings’ when there are certain lifestyle risk factors present. For example, smokers automatically have a 100% loading, meaning premium costs (for the same level of cover and same age) are double what non-smokers’ are.

Even if you consider yourself more of a ‘social’ smoker, keep in mind that you are still considered a smoker for the purposes of calculating your premium. If you’d like to keep your health and bank account a break, consider kicking the habit completely.

Like smoking, excessive alcohol consumption can also cause some significant health issues, which means a loading may be added. If your level of regular drinking exceeds recommended weekly limits, an additional premium may be charged because of the higher risk of a future claim. By keeping your alcohol consumption within recommended limits, you may be able to reduce the costs of your premium.

Having a rainy-day fund

Have a good savings habit and your own emergency fund in place? Your savings could save you premium costs as well.

Premiums are based on the level of cover you need, and some covers also have an excess or a wait period before the cover starts being paid out. The longer the wait period and the higher the excess you select, the lower the premium. So if your rainy-day fund is enough to cover the excess or your living costs during your wait period, this can be a good way to save money.

Dangerous hobbies

Dangerous hobbies – or at least ones with a higher chance of causing injury or worse – are likely to attract a higher premium, if cover is accepted.

Perhaps you enjoy hang-gliding, scuba diving or the odd spot of rock climbing – and we are certainly not suggesting you should stop. But keep in mind that, if you want cover for potential loss caused by these activities, you will usually need to pay a higher premium for the higher risk. You can lower your premium by either giving up the hazardous activity or having cover for the activity excluded from your policy.

Choosing the right premium type

Usually, Insurance premiums increase with age, and that’s what we call ‘stepped premiums’ or ‘rate-for-age premiums’: the vast majority of Insurance policies in New Zealand fall into this category.

But there’s another premium type, which remains the same throughout the term of your policy: we are talking about ‘level premiums’.

Unlike stepped premiums, which are cheaper initially but get more and more expensive in the future, level premiums are consistent over time so you can avoid the additional cost later in life (when you’re more likely to claim). In other words, you may have the option to fix the cost and secure the long-term affordability of your cover.

Like to learn more about level premiums or want to discuss other ways to keep your premiums manageable? Please get in touch. You have got some control over your Insurance premiums, and by making key changes, you may be able to reduce costs.

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 development or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek advice from a financial adviser.

Income Protection or Trauma Insurance: which is right for you?

At first glance, Income Protection and Trauma Insurance may look very similar. After all, both are designed to protect you financially if you’re sick or injured. But if you get past that first impression, you will realise that they provide very different types of cover.

So, which works best for you? To answer this question, let’s dig deeper into the differences.

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Five must-have apps for property buyers

If you’re about to step onto the property ladder or looking for your next house, congratulations – it is an exciting time. However, it can also be stressful trying to find the right house for you, competing with other buyers and deciding what loan structure is best for your needs.

Here, we check out five must-have smartphone apps for any property purchaser, with features to make your life easier while you find the right property.

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Selling for the first time? Four mistakes to avoid

Selling your first home is always hard; not only is buying your house a momentous occasion, but the house itself will hold a lot of fond memories for you.

If you’d like to maximise your house’s potential, and get the best possible price when selling it, here are four mistakes to avoid.

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What does Life Insurance buy you?

Life Insurance – while not everybody has it, those who do generally have cover to ‘pay off the mortgage’ or ‘leave something to the kids’ should they prematurely die.

However, Life Insurance provides more than just a debt repayment, or bequest facility. Life Insurance ensures your family is able to maintain their lifestyle in the event you are no longer there earning an income and contributing to the family’s costs.

And if you add up how much income the family would potentially lose, it is often a lot more than the level of cover most people have.
So, what can life insurance buy your family?

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First-home buyers: how much can you borrow?

Looking at buying your first home? Then your ‘borrowing power’ is a critical number to know.

Most lenders have online calculators to help you work out a rough estimate. But if you want a more precise figure before kicking off your house hunt, getting pre-approved by a lender is a great idea.

To maximise your borrowing power, check out the key things your lender will consider when assessing your application.

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Is your Insurance keeping up with your life?

Making your insurance work for you isn’t just a matter of signing on the dotted line. It’s important to ensure that your cover is fit for your needs when you take it out, and continues to meet your needs as time goes on. Here are some important things to consider both before and after you take out your cover.

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Five bad financial habits – and how to fix them

Bad financial habits not only sabotage your savings – they could also sabotage your chances of getting a home loan approved.

Check out these five bad financial habits, and how to fix them, to improve the health of your savings, and ability to get a home loan. (Spoiler alert: there is no mention of giving up the lattes).

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