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

Why you should hang on to your insurance policies

Many households around the country are coming under increasing financial strain as the impact of Covid-19 bites. In these uncertain times, it’s natural to look at the things you can cut from your monthly budget – and think about your personal insurance policies. 

While it might be tempting to write these off as non-essential and trim them from your spending, there are some key reasons why it’s worth holding on to insurances if at all possible.

You have options

If it’s getting tough to hold on to your policies, there are things you can do to lower their cost without having to drop them altogether.

Some insurers are offering premium holidays, where cover remains in place but premiums do not have to be paid, while others are allowing people to put their policies on hold. If you’re facing longer-term disruption, you may be able to trim the amount of cover you have in place or, depending on your financial situation, look at increasing your insurance excess.

Exclusions

If you’ve had your insurance policies in place for a while, you may have developed some health conditions in that time. If your policy includes them and there was no unwitting non-disclosure at application time, these are covered under your existing policy, as you took it out before they developed. But if you cancelled your policy, you would lose that cover – and it might be hard to get a future insurer to provide it again. You might find exclusions or extra premium charges were applied relating to those conditions.

Changing terms

In light of Covid-19, some insurance providers have had to rethink some of their policy wordings and covered conditions, at least for now.

That could mean that if you were to swap to another similar policy in the future, you could find you end up on less generous terms. It might mean indemnity income cover, for example, rather than agreed value – or more restrictions on redundancy or Covid-19-linked claims.

Level premium policies

If you’ve had a level premium structure in place, you’ve probably been paying higher amounts than you absolutely have to now, in return for steady premiums as you get older. But if you cancel your cover now, you’ll not receive any of the benefits of that levelling, and instead only have experienced the higher cost.

Claims

Another problem with cancelling a policy or letting it lapse is that you won’t be covered for a claim.

It would be extremely disheartening to pay premiums for years only to cancel your policy and then experience an event that would normally lead you to claim. You can’t know what is around the corner, but insurance is designed to protect you from those risks you can’t see coming.

Like to discuss this further?

We can help. Get in contact with us today to talk about what you can do to keep your cover in place – or what to consider if you need to change it.

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 independent guidance.

Home-cooking tips for the ‘new normal’

During the lockdown days, many of us have been honing our skills in the kitchen. From home-made bread through to yoghurt, spreads and sauces, there probably has never been a better time to embrace the pleasure of home-cooking. And echoing this sentiment, New Zealand chefs and foodies have been sharing their top recipes online for everyone to enjoy.

The world will eventually find its ‘new normal’. In the meantime, here are some home-cooking tips we can take with us on the other side – to eat healthier and save money.

Making your own bread

Has your home smelled like your favourite bakery of late? Bread-making is a craft in itself; it may take patience and practice, but in time, the results are sure to reward. It’s no surprise that bread is the most widely consumed food in the world.

You’ll obviously find plenty of recipes online to inspire you, but here are some great NZ-made examples to get you started:

  • Yoghurt dough scroll, by Kiwi parenting blogger and nutritionist My Kids Lick the Bowl: All you need is four ingredients.
  • Beer bread, by I Am a Baker: Can you spare five minutes and a can of ale?
  • Soda bread, by Annabel Langbein: No yeast needed.
  • Crusty no-knead bread, by The Kiwi Country Girl: Ready for breakfast.
  • Lockdown load, by Chelsea Winter: Is a fresh loaf made from old beer the perfect bread recipe for pandemic times?

As a little extra from overseas, US chef and baker Brandon Johnson has recently shared a Navajo flatbread recipe which promises to be “the easiest kind of bread you can make”.

Can’t find flour in the supermarket?

Flour has become a scarce commodity in recent times. The good news is, you can make your own flour using a coffee grinder and your choice of grains, seeds, nuts or beans.

Homemade pasta

While you might not be as experienced as this lovely Italian nonna, that’s not to say you shouldn’t try making your own homemade pasta. As food blogger Girl Meets Food says, “From the outside it seems so complicated and out of reach. The reality is, it’s not very hard and once you’ve done it a few times, it’s easy and methodical.”

Feeling ready? You can find her recipe here. 

Easy-to-make yoghurt

Whether you’re using a set yoghurt like Easiyo or doing your own thing, making yoghurt overnight is incredibly easy – and importantly, it can help you save some bucks. Check out this quick recipe by NZ chef Annabel Langbein.

Your own dips and spreads

Dips and spreads make the perfect snacks or addition to a hearty meal. What’s more, they allow you to experiment with flavours and colours: all you need is a blender (or mortar and pestle) and your ingredients. Eatwell.co.nz has pages and pages of recipes for you.

Preserving the goodness

You can preserve almost anything, using oil, sugar, vinegar, salt brine, alcohol or by fermentation. However, keep food safety in mind. According to OzFarmer, it’s important to use special preserving jars with a secure seal, to avoid bacterial contamination (yikes!). If you’re confident enough, you can try these recipes and preserving tips from LoveFoodHateWaste.co.nz, and stock up your pantry.

Looking for more inspiration? Follow the pros

While restaurant and café doors were closed shut, Auckland’s top chefs have taken to social media to share some of their favourite recipes – click here to learn more, there’s something for everyone.

Meanwhile, in Wellington, hospitality businesses have come up with a ‘pay what you can cookbook’, with all proceeds going to its contributors. You can purchase and download the PDF here.

Start an online cooking class

Feel a bit rusty? Or perhaps, you’d like to perfect your skills?

According to Google’s global data, the search term “online cooking classes” saw a trifold increase during the first three months of 2020. From free to paid-for options, an online class may just be the ticket to explore your culinary creativity.

Get in touch

We may not help you season the new pan, but if you have any questions for us, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We look forward to answering them.

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 independent guidance.

How health and life insurance providers are responding to COVID-19

As always, it’s important to note that every insurance policy is different as the type and level of cover you have is based on your situation. So, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us: we can talk you through your policy wording and help you get clarity as to what you’re covered for.

Having said, we have been in close contact with insurance providers over the past few weeks, and can tell you that most of them have communicated their stance on COVID-19. As this article from Insurance Business Magazine notes, responses vary from provider to provider. Here’s what some have said about existing policies.

Fidelity Life

“Due to the current economic conditions, customers are concerned about ensuring they’re covered for COVID-19, especially in the event of redundancy or significant time off work, as well as how the situation will impact existing claims,” said Fidelity Life COO, Kath Johnson.

“We’re reassuring existing customers that cover is not impacted by COVID-19: they’ll be able to make a claim where they meet their policy’s terms and conditions.”

In addition, Johnson said that, for next few weeks, customers currently receiving income protection claim payments won’t need to visit their GP for their formal medical certification. Instead, the process will be overseen by Fidelity Life’s chief medical officer. Please get in contact to learn more.

Existing covers that were taken out before the risk of COVID-19 became apparent have no blanket exclusions for COVID-19, which means you’d be able to make a claim if all other terms and conditions are met. Once again, we encourage you to get in contact with us to check your policy’s wording.

AIA

AIA has also confirmed that existing policies that were taken out before COVID-19 don’t have specific exclusions for pandemics in their policy wording.

“If you need to make a claim related to COVID-19, as with any other claim, you will need to meet the eligibility requirements for your type of cover,” said the company in a statement, reassuring customers that they will do whatever is in their power to continue to manage claims “in a timely and supportive manner.”

Southern Cross

As a health insurance provider, with policies designed to complement the services provided by the health system, Southern Cross won’t respond to claims related to COVID-19, which are treated by public healthcare as emergencies.

The provider may cover for conditions that arise subsequently to COVID-19, depending on your policy, but it will not cover any screening or tests related to the virus, including overseas medical evacuations.

Asteron Life

According to the provider, Asteron Life policies that were taken out before COVID-19 have no blanket exclusions for outbreaks. So if you were to file a COVID19-related claim, this would be treated “the same as any other illness.”

Keep in mind that most of income protection or mortgage repayment insurance policies have a minimum of four-week waiting period before the cover kicks in. Plus, usually you would need a doctor certificate. Once again, we’re here to help you understand the process. 

nib

Nib said that, generally speaking, their policies don’t cover for acute conditions that need hospital treatment or monitoring. Things like quarantine surveillance, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up services for COVID-19 patients will be covered by the Ministry of Health.

Don’t hesitate to contact us

If you have any questions about your cover or would like to check what your policy wording covers, please get in contact with us at your earliest convenience. And in the meantime, we recommend a visit to ‘Unite against COVID-19’ for updates and guidance, including how to access healthcare if needed.

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 independent guidance.

Applying for insurance during COVID-19

In these uncertain times, having an insurance adviser like us can help you navigate the insurance market for a new policy or an upgrade to an existing one.

Here are a few things to think about if you’re planning to take out new personal insurance at the moment.

Normal underwriting may not be able to happen

While Insurance providers are deemed as essential services, it may be challenging for them to get as clear a picture of the risks they’re taking on with the proposed new policy. While a high body mass index (BMI), for example, might normally have meant the provider would send you for a further health check before approving your application, for now you may just find that there’s a loading or exclusion added to your policy.

While insurance providers can’t do all the normal investigation they would to understand new applications, they’re likely to be cautious and the cover you can get will be more limited.

You can’t protect against what’s already happened

Insurance is designed to offer you support for circumstances that you couldn’t have seen coming. If a risk is well-known (like in this case, COVID-19), your new insurance policy is likely to have exclusions and limitations.

Insurance providers are implementing stand-down periods and other restrictions on what they will pay out for COVID-19 cases in new clients. As for existing policyholders, policies that were taken out before the outbreak don’t have exclusions for pandemic-related claims, so they are likely to respond in the normal way.

For extra peace of mind, please don’t hesitate to contact us: we can help your review your existing insurance plans and assess any gaps that you may want to fill.

Understand what you’re buying

In this uncertain time, you may have thought about protecting your family’s financial life from the job loss. Many New Zealanders have been enquiring about income protection, but there seems to be some confusion in the market about how this powerful tool actually works.

Besides what we said before about known risks and policy exclusions, income protection insurance is designed to step in when you’re off work due to illness or injury. In other words, it doesn’t cover for job losses due to redundancy or business interruption.

If you have redundancy cover in place, perhaps as an add-on to an existing income protection policy, please contact us: we can help you understand if you’re eligible for an insurance payout. If you don’t have this add-on in place, keep in mind that some providers have put a temporary halt on the sale of new redundancy cover at the moment. Plus, most redundancy cover policies include a clause that says people need to not have been aware of the threat of losing their job when they took the insurance out, which would make new cover difficult to claim on at the moment, anyway.

Be careful with replacing cover

If you already have an insurance policy in place, it’s important to take extra care with replacing it (or cancelling it) for now.

Insurance providers have introduced more exclusions on new policies – including things like mental health exclusions on disability benefits and restrictions on claims made when someone is out of work, as well as specific COVID-19 exclusions.

Once again, get in contact with us: it’s more important than ever to understand what you’re giving up if you cancel an existing policy in favour of another.

Consider affordability

If you have concerns about insurance affordability at the moment, please give us a call. Many insurance providers are working hard to help customers that find themselves unable to pay their premiums for a while, including offering premium holidays for a set period.

However, these support options may be more generous for existing customers than those who take out cover through this period of disruption.

Things change fast: we’re here to help

Things are changing fast, at the moment. Like to understand what you’re covered for? Please get in contact with us as soon as possible. If you already have policies in place, we can talk about how they would respond to a COVID-19 claim. If you’d like to take out new policies, we can help you work out how best to get cover during this period of uncertainty.

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 independent guidance.

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While regions are taking the lion’s share of price increases, over the past few months even Auckland’s sleepy market has been showing signs of life. And key factors like low interest rates, unresolved supply constraints and continued migration point to further price growth in the coming months.

ANZ economists recently predicted that national price growth may hit 8 per cent this year compared to last year, while other economists (including Westpac) say average prices could achieve 7 per cent growth.

And it may not be the only cloud on the horizon for first-home buyers.

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Here are a few things to think about if you’re expecting a big drop in income.

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The benefits of securing travel insurance are too many to mention, and translate into peace of mind and financial protection from the unexpected – exactly what you need when you’re taking some time off to relax, unplug and explore.
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