FAMILY WELLBEING: Life insurance cover in and out of super funds is in the spotlight.
FAMILY WELLBEING: Life insurance cover in and out of super funds is in the spotlight.

Life insurance is key to a family’s financial wellbeing

IF YOU have a family, dependents or debt, life insurance is essential. Yet one in four Australians aren't sure whether or not they have life cover in place at all.

If you die and your life is insured, your beneficiaries receive a lump sum pay-out. This money can be the difference between the people who matter most to you enjoying a decent lifestyle or facing a financial struggle. 

Many of us have some level of life cover through our super fund. However, this isn't always the case so it pays to ask. Despite this being a matter of picking up the phone to speak with your fund, a recent study by Finder shows one in five super fund members have no idea whether they have life insurance through their super. 

If you have more than one super fund - and 40 per cent of Australians do, you could be doubling up on premiums. The downside here is that paying multiple premiums through several funds, will eat away at your total nest egg over time.

Having some life cover in place is better than having none at all especially if you have dependents. And incidentally, these days it makes sense for both parents in a family to have life cover even if one person is a stay-at-home parent. Too often the economic worth of the child-rearer's work is overlooked, and ideally, both parents should be insured at a similar level.

I mention this because Finder's research found women tend to be more uncertain than men about whether they have life cover in place. Close to one in three women simply don't know if their life is insured.

Like all insurances, life cover works best when you have the right level of protection in place for your situation. The insurance available through your super is typically very affordable because your fund 'buys in bulk' for a large number of members. However, life insurance policies arranged through super may not be as comprehensive as standalone cover purchased directly from an insurer.

Similarly, life insurance organised through your super fund is unlikely to be designed with your individual circumstances in mind, and figures from industry body Lifewise show up to 50 per cent of fund members can be underinsured by $100,000.

The solution is simple. Contact your fund or check your most recent super statement to know whether or not you have life insurance. If you feel the life cover offered by your super fund is insufficient, consider taking a look at what's available with an independent insurer. At least this way you will have control over your family's financial well-being if tragedy occurred.

Paul Clitheroe is a founding director of financial planning firm ipac, Chairman of the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board and chief commentator for Money Magazine.