Long Term Insurance - Frequently Asked Questions
1. HOW DOES THE FINANCIAL PLANNING PROCESS WORK?
Financial planning is a 6 step process that provides you with two important things: (1) An in-depth review of your current financial situation, and (2) a blueprint that shows you how to achieve your goals and objectives for the future. Your goals might include buying a home, saving for a child's education, or planning for retirement. It is important to remember that financial planning is a process, not an event. The financial planning process consists of 6 distinct steps:
Step 1: Establishing and defining the client-planner relationship
The planner will explain the process, find out what your needs are and make sure they can meet them. You can ask them about their background, how they work and how they charge.
Step 2: Identifying your goals
You work with the planner to identify your short and long term financial goals – this stage serves as a foundation for developing your plan.
Step 3: Assessing your financial situation
The planner will take a good look at your position – your assets, liabilities, insurance coverage and investment or tax strategies.
Step 4: Preparing your financial plan
The planner recommends suitable strategies, products and services, and answers any questions you have.
Step 5: Implementing the recommendations
Once you’re ready to go ahead, your financial plan will be put into action; where appropriate, the planner may work with specialist professionals, such as an accountant or solicitor.
Step 6: Monitoring and reviewing the plan and recommendations
Your circumstances, lifestyle and financial goals are likely to change over time, so it is important that your financial plan is regularly reviewed (at least annually), to make sure you keep on track with the goals you have set out
2. WHAT ARE THE COSTS INVOLVED WITH SETTING UP A FINANCIAL PLAN?
By law all planners must disclose all forms of remuneration due to them. The cost to you, the client, will depend on the complexity of your financial situation and plan, as well as the remuneration model the planner uses. There are two main remuneration models used by planners, the commission based model and the fee based model.
For the commission based model, the commission is paid directly from the product provider to the planner. If this model is used for investments there could be some penalties imposed on you as the client if you decide to change the fund you are invested in or move your money to another provider.
For a fee based model the planner can charge an initial structuring fee, a monthly fee based on the direct debit amount and/or an annual advice fee. All these fees are negotiable and should be discussed with you before you commit to the plan.
3. WHAT IS LIFE COVER AND WHY DO I NEED IT?
Life cover is a long term insurance policy that pays out a cash lump sum to your nominated beneficiary in the event of your death.
If you have a partner or family who depends on your regular income, you need to be sure they would cope financially if you were no longer around. One must remember that your family members would still have to find money to cover the monthly costs of living should you die prematurely.
Life cover is also used to pay off any remaining debt such as a mortgage if you were to pass away.
4. HOW MUCH LIFE COVER DO I NEED?
The amount of life cover that you need depends on a few factors:
How much debt do you have outstanding (i.e. your mortgage or vehicle debt)?
How much income do you need to substitute when you aren’t around to provide for your family?
What are the potential executor and tax costs you will incur if you pass away (i.e. estate duty and CGT)?
All these factors will affect the level of life cover needed so each case needs to be looked at on an individual basis.
Your planner should be able assist you with calculating this amount so that you get the correct level of cover for your family.
5. WHAT IS DISABILITY COVER AND WHY DO I NEED IT?
Disability cover is a long term insurance policy that pays out in the event of you becoming disabled. A disability policy can provide a monthly benefit (income protection) for a certain period of time during your disability or pay out a lump sum (capital disability) in the event of you becoming disabled.
You can use the benefits to continue living your lifestyle or to help pay for unforeseen expenses that arise due to your disability.
6. HOW MUCH DISABILITY COVER DO I NEED?
A good starting point is to protect your full annual income through an income protection policy. You should have enough protection to cover your monthly living expenses (rent/mortgage, groceries, utilities, etc.) if you were in a situation where you couldn’t work.
You may also want to consider adding on a level of lump sum disability cover which could cover your outstanding debts if you were to be unable to work.
7. WHAT IS DREAD DISEASE COVER AND WHY DO I NEED IT?
Dread disease cover is a long term insurance policy that provides a lump sum pay out in the event of you contracting a dread disease like cancer. It can be used to help fund any additional expenses that arise from contracting the disease (e.g. medical expenses)
This type of cover mustn’t be confused with medical aid. Medical aid covers specific expenses incurred (i.e. hospital expenses) whilst dread disease insurance pays out a lump sum benefit depending on the severity of the illness. The payout has no relation to the expenses you’ve incurred during your illness.
8. HOW MUCH DREAD DISEASE COVER DO I NEED?
The ideal amount of dread disease cover will vary from person to person, depending on income, levels of debt, and the other insurance policies that you may have. You may choose to allocate part of your Life Insurance to cover dread diseases (accelerated cover) or take out stand-alone dread disease cover, depending on your situation and affordability.
Your financial advisor will help you analyse the costs you might incur if you contracted a dread disease and will suggest the correct level of cover for you.
9. WHAT IS MEDICAL AID AND WHY DO I NEED IT?
Medical Aid is a form of short term insurance that insures you for actual medical expenses. This is an essential form of insurance that needs to be considered very seriously. Not having this type of cover could mean enormous medical bills having to be paid out of your own pocket.
Do not get confused between Dread Disease cover and Medical Aid. There is a distinct difference between the two. Medical Aid covers you for actual medical expenses incurred whilst Dread Disease cover pays out a lump sum of cash depending on the severity of your illness.
10. WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MEDICAL AID AND DREAD DISEASE COVER?
A good medical aid does not reduce the need for dread disease cover and vice versa. Each type of cover addresses a very different need.
The purpose of medical aid is to cover actual medical costs associated with illness, including a dread disease. Your medical aid should foot the bill or at least part thereof for hospitalisation, medical procedures, medication and doctor’s consultations.
Dread disease cover will compliment your medical aid by providing a lump sum which can be used to cover any additional costs associated with your change of lifestyle as a result of suffering from a dread disease. On average as little as 30% of costs associated with suffering from a dread disease will be medical bills. The remainder of the costs typically includes modifications to your car and home, hiring a caregiver, alternative treatments and medications not covered by your medical aid and rehabilitation therapy. Dread disease cover can help in this regard.
For example, hospital treatment for a heart attack may be covered by medical aid, but after surviving the heart attack, one may not be able to climb the stairs in a multi-storey home and so the installation of a mechanical lift may be required - this could be covered by your dread disease cover.