Benefits of each
Insurance inside super
- Premium payments can be tax effective (although benefits may be taxable)
- Premiums may be cheaper
- Often require no medical checks to get automatic cover
- Can help you stay covered during periods of low cash flow.
Insurance outside super
- Can offer more cover options
- Policies are typically more flexible and customisable
- Can offer higher levels of cover
- Premiums don’t eat away at your final super balance.
Types of insurance
Many super funds offer three basic forms of personal insurance. These are life, Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) and income protection. Other types of insurance like trauma cover generally can’t be held within super.
Outside super, you can mix and match types of cover. Policies can sometimes be packaged up with one provider to reduce your premiums, which could otherwise be more expensive outside the super environment.
Levels of insurance
Automatic, and typically low, levels of life and TPD cover within a super fund can be fine for a young person starting their first job. But if you’re at another life stage – with a partner, children and a mortgage, for instance – it can be a different story.
Insurers providing cover within super can put caps on the levels of cover available, so be sure to check with your fund. Outside super the levels of cover can be more flexible, but your options may also depend on your age and health.
Super fund members who are offered automatic cover often don’t need a medical check-up to get insured. Instead, your fund spreads the risk among its many members.
At the same time, while it can be possible to find cheaper premiums outside super, considerations such as age, health and lifestyle matter. As insurance is offered on a case-by-case basis, some people may face higher premiums – but they may also have more cover options.
Insurance options through super may be less flexible, as super laws restrict policy definitions and the ability to customise policies. Automatic covers usually require little, if any, consultation with the fund member, which may or may not suit your needs.
Policies outside super begin with a customisation process. This can be important if you need specific levels of cover. It’s also useful if you want certainty around how, when and to whom payments are made if you make a claim.
For most super fund members, it can be difficult to beat the tax effectiveness of paying your personal insurance premiums through your super. However, life insurance benefits can be subject to tax if paid to a non-dependant for tax purposes, such as an adult child, while other insurance benefits paid from super may also be taxable.
Premiums are often made from your pre-tax contributions – for example, from your employer’s compulsory super payments or extra contributions you make through salary sacrificing. This means your premiums are generally paid from income that you haven’t paid tax on. In contrast, life and TPD insurance premiums paid outside super come from after tax money in most cases.
But although your premium costs don’t come out of your own pocket, they can eat away at your final super balance. So if you’d prefer not to reduce your nest egg to stay covered, then insurance outside super could be the answer.
Once you’ve made your choice, it’s not a set-and-forget decision. With each life stage and major event – such as a marriage, childbirth, mortgage or pay rise – comes new and different responsibilities. So be sure to check in with your financial adviser if your situation changes.