Income protection cover – a journey of support

Paula Bourke, National Head of Claims for life insurance at BT explains the importance of income protection.

When we discuss life insurance with clients, it can be easy to focus on the financial benefits.  Health-related outcomes can sometimes be overlooked. When talk turns to health matters, insurance takes on a human face. It’s not just about money; it becomes a journey of personal support and recovery.

An unexpected illness at age 47

Wendy was a leading National Pharmaceutical Representative for her company. She loved her job, but, at 47 years of age, she began experiencing crippling pain in her hands and feet, and was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

RA is a progressive autoimmune condition with no cure.  As Wendy’s condition spread, she could no longer stand or drive, and suffered severe fatigue and concentration problems.

Fortunately, Wendy had an income protection policy with BT, arranged through her financial adviser.

Regular contact, ongoing support

After a long chat with her Claims Consultant, Wendy was referred to our* Health Support team and worked with one of our psychologists – setting realistic goals, adapting to her physical limitations and learning coping mechanisms.

Her medications had disabling side effects yet her specialist told her she could return to work.  Understandably this caused tremendous stress. Our psychologist encouraged Wendy to join support groups and to research alternative therapies to improve her quality of life.

Wendy’s Claims Consultant maintained regular contact with her and her financial adviser, and our psychologist spoke to her monthly to ensure she was being supported.

Exploring new possibilities

After three challenging years, Wendy’s condition finally stabilised and she undertook volunteer work as a stepping stone back into the workforce. Sadly, a flare up of her condition saw Wendy return to hospital, fearful she may never contribute to society again.

We recommended a mindfulness course, which helped her to regain her positive outlook. Having used swimming to alleviate her pain, Wendy was keen to become a swimming coach, and her policy covered the costs of obtaining the certificates she needed.  She sought out part-time work which she could do from home. Her policy also covered the costs of undertaking further study and Wendy topped her class earning a Diploma in Weight Loss Consulting.

Then Wendy suffered another setback: Her medication caused blood clots in both lungs and nearly took her life. With our support, and since she was unable to continue as a swimming coach, Wendy identified that she was especially passionate in helping others to turn their life around. She started her own company, SMART LifeChange, and is developing a weight loss workshop. Wendy is excited about what 2016 may bring.  She has written a book about her life, which is being launched later this year.

“My life would have been different”

It is unlikely Wendy will ever return to full time work, however she is motivated and happy with her fulfilling part-time work and projects.

Life has a habit of throwing curve balls, which can have a devastating impact. And none of us are immune. As Wendy says, “I urge anyone to take out income protection insurance. My illness came out of the blue and without insurance, I know that my life would have been different.”

BT’s Health Outcome Measure

Developed in consultation with clinical psychologists, occupational therapists and other health support experts, our Health Outcome Measure assesses a person on a number of health aspects including participation, mobility and the capacity to undertake everyday activities.

Through conversations with the personal claims consultant, the measures are calculated at three points in time: for pre-disability health, at the time of claim and when health support ends. We can then determine how successfully the person has been returned to wellness.

We assessed Wendy with a pre-disability measure of 56 out of a maximum of 60. Her measure when her disability was at its worst was just 23. Her Health Outcome Measure today is 50, reflecting the support given.

View a video explaining the health support available:

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* The words ‘We’, ‘Us’ and ‘Our’ are used to refer to the BT life insurance claims team.

This information is general information only and does not take into account your client’s personal circumstances. Before acting on this information, your clients should consider its appropriateness having regard to their objectives, financial situation and needs.

The claims story referred to in this article is from a real customer and is for illustrative purposes only. Each claim outcome may differ depending on the individual circumstances. Names have been reproduced with permission. This information must not be copied, used, reproduced or otherwise distributed or circulated to any retail client or any other party without the permission of WLIS.

The Insurer of BT Protection Plans is Westpac Life Insurance Services Limited ABN 31 003 149 157, AFSL Number 233728 ('the Insurer'). BT Protection Plans is issued by the Insurer except for Term Life as Superannuation and Income Protection as Superannuation which are issued by Westpac Securities Administration Limited ABN 77 000 049 472, AFSL Number 233731 ('WSAL') as trustee of the Westpac MasterTrust ABN 81 236 903 448. The Insurer and WSAL are wholly owned subsidiaries of Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL 233714, ('the Bank'). None of the BT Protection Plans, an interest in the Westpac MasterTrust or Retirement Wrap ABN 39 827 542 991, RSE Registration R1001327 (of which SuperWrap is part of), nor an investment in Wrap, are an investment in, deposit with or other liability of the Bank. Neither the Bank, nor any member of the Westpac Group (other than the Insurer) guarantees the benefits payable in relation to BT Protection Plans. Read the appropriate Product Disclosure Statement at for terms and conditions relating to BT Protection Plans.

© BT Financial Group – A Division of Westpac Banking Corporation.