The life insurance industry, particularly Individual Disability Income Insurance (more commonly referred to as Income Protection), is facing sustainability and profitability challenges with risk products reporting a combined after-tax loss of $1.6 billion in the year ending 30 September 20201.
BT’s Income Protection claim payments have almost doubled over the past 4 years. We have tried to limit the level of increases to premiums over the past few years.
However, like most insurers this year, we need to increase premiums for some products to ensure we can provide long term support to those that need it the most at the times that matter.
If your premiums are increasing, a notification regarding the changes would have been sent, or will be sent to you 90 days prior to any premium changes taking place. If so, changes to premiums will take place from your next policy anniversary due for renewal on or after 1 April 2021.
Jordan has approximately 90 days before the new premium will be debited to make changes to his cover in order to reduce premiums, or keep his policy the same and pay the new premium.
If he doesn’t want to make any changes, there is nothing further he needs to do.
We understand that when premiums increase, it might become challenging to manage the increasing cost of staying covered and financially protected.
There are a few things you could consider below, but we recommend you speak to your financial adviser, or seek professional advice before you consider making any changes or cancelling your cover2.
Here are some options to change your cover in order to reduce your premiums for your consideration, which may or may not be suitable for you2.
You can choose one option or combine more than one to help reduce your premium even further. You can speak to your financial adviser, or contact us to secure quotes on one, or more of these options.
Making changes to your cover in order to reduce your premium will not require any medical questions to be completed with regards to your health.
If you decide to make changes in the future that will increase your cover and features, please note that they may be subject to an assessment and additional terms and conditions.
At BT we are proud to help our customers get back on their feet. In the financial year ending 30 September 2020, we paid close to $418m5 in claims, which included over $119 million in income protection payments to more than 2,303 claimants5.
We are having to increase premiums to our Protection Plan policies given the rise in both the number of claims as well as the length of claims we are receiving. This combination and trend over the past few years is increasing costs for insurers. This challenge is not unique to BT and has had an impact across the whole life insurance industry.
Insurers now need to increase premiums to make sure these products remain sustainable, so they can provide long-term support for customers.
For level premium policies, there are also other factors we consider such as interest rates in Australia. To be able to help fund costs, insurers invest the premiums, and the returns help offset the premium increase that otherwise would have been collected as people age.
The low interest rate environment we have been in for some time, has significantly impacted insurers’ ability to help fund level premium policies and is further pressuring the life insurance industry.
Although it is hard to predict where the market will be in the future, especially in these challenging times, we will always inform you at least 90 days before the increase at renewal time (depending on the terms of your policy).
This will give us an opportunity to work with you should you need to contact us to discuss if you are having difficulty meeting your payments and discuss what options may be available.
We reviewed our premium rates based on a number of factors including the cost of providing your cover.
We vary our premium increases by product features and level of risk being insured, and this can reflect in the underlying cost to provide cover. Due to this, sometimes two different people will receive different premium increase amounts.
Your Protection Plans policy is flexible, and here are some options that may help make your premiums more affordable. We recommend you speak to your financial adviser or seek professional advice before making changes to your policy.
The new premium will only start at your next renewal. Approximately 20 days prior to the renewal date of your policy, you will receive your renewal letter displaying the premium for the next 12 months on the front page.
Alternatively, please use this form to 'get information on premium increases' and ask for a 'new renewal quote'. We will prepare this calculation for you and send it to you by email.
If you’d prefer to discuss this over the phone, please call us on 1300 553 764.
Level premiums do increase by CPI (Consumer Price Index) each year, so that the sum insured stays suitable for your needs for the years to come. You can turn the CPI increase off to reduce your premiums.
Level premiums are also subject to regular premium reviews and subsequent base premium rate increases. Currently, the industry is facing challenges with increasing costs1, compounded by the low interest rate environment. This has significantly impacted insurers’ ability to help fund level premium policies further pressuring the life insurance industry to review level premiums.
Yes, premium changes do not impact existing discounts and loyalty benefits.
Your premium waiver will stay in place up until the agreed date. After this date, you will be subject to paying your premiums again.
If your policy renewed during the time your premiums were being waived, your new premium will be payable after the end of the waiver period. If your policy didn’t renew during this period, your premiums will continue to remain the same until your policy comes up for renewal.
If you are facing financial hardship, there may be ways we can help. Please contact us on 1300 551 431 to discuss what options may be available.
Things you should know
A target market determination has been made for Protection Plans products. Please visit bt.com.au/tmd for any of our target market determinations.
The Insurer and Issuer is Westpac Life Insurance Services Limited ABN 31 003 149 157 AFSL 233728, except for Term Life as Superannuation, Income Protection as Superannuation and Income Protection Assured as Superannuation, issued by BT Funds Management Limited ABN 63 002 916 458 AFSL 233724 as Trustee of Retirement Wrap ABN 39 827 542 991. They are subsidiaries of Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL 233714, who does not guarantee the insurance. This information does not take into account your personal circumstances. Terms and conditions, and limitations and exclusions apply. Please read the Product Disclosure Statement to see if this insurance is right for you.
© Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL and Australian credit licence 233714
1. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) released its Quarterly Life Insurance Performance Statistics publication for the quarter. The life insurance industry’s performance continues to be challenged, with net loss after tax of $1.6 billion for the year to September 2020. https://www.apra.gov.au/news-and-publications/apra-releases-life-insurance-statistics-for-september-2020
2. It is important to understand that this is general information only and the options outlined do not take into account your personal objectives, financial circumstances or needs. We recommend you speak to your financial adviser, or seek professional advice before you consider making any changes or cancelling your cover. Making changes to a policy may impact such things as the benefit payable, the claim you can make or waiting period. Insurance cover may have different variables that will impact the changes to the premium.
3. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has mandated for all insurers to cease the sale of Agreed Value and Endorsed Agreed Value policies from 31 March 2020. If you do decide to reduce your premiums by switching the benefit type from Agreed Value to Indemnity, then you cannot change it back again if you or your adviser changes their mind later.
4. The premium reduction stories are illustrative only and do not represent actual events. The claims stories are based on real life claims but altered to protect the customer identities. The stories illustrate the potential risk of policy cancellation and the nature of the claims service provided, but not the type of claim that can be made on all policies.
5. Past payment statistics are not an indicator of future claim payments. Claims statistics are from the period between 1 October 2019 and 30 September 2020 inclusive paid by Westpac Life Insurance Services Limited ABN 31 003 149 157 (WLISL). Figures have been rounded to the nearest $1 million and are based on the total amount paid during the financial year, excluding claims paid for Westpac Group Plan insurance policies.
Westpac Life Insurance Services Limited (WLISL) paid out $104m in income protections claims between 1 October 2018 - 30 September 2019, and $119m between 1 October 2019 - 30 September 2020. Past claims payments are not an indication of future payments.