Life Insurance and COVID-19 - Frequently asked questions

BT is proud to participate in the Financial Service Council's COVID-19 industry commitments to support Frontline Healthcare Workers and TPD claimants. 

Does BT's Life insurance policy cover my client for COVID-19?

If your client has a BT Protection Plans or BT Super for Life insurance policy, there are no exclusions for pandemics. This means they are covered if they contract the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and also meet the terms of their policy. Income protection, business expenses*, living (trauma)*, total and permanent disability (TPD) and death policies may all provide cover, depending on your client’s circumstances.

New clients and changes to existing cover are subject to our current underwriting rules and assessed based on our criteria at the time. As the situation is always changing, we are monitoring the impact of the virus closely and may need to change our underwriting approach accordingly, if required.

The following should be noted:

  • Total and Permanent Disability, Income Protection and business expense policies cover clients if they are unable to work due to sickness or injury in line with the terms and conditions of the policy, including any waiting period.
  • Trauma (“Living”) policies cover clients for defined events, however, COVID-19 is not a defined sickness under the Trauma policy. Severe cases could be covered under other defined sicknesses, such as intensive care requiring continuous mechanical ventilation for 10 days.
  • Accidental Death policies do not cover clients for COVID-19.

My client is receiving a JobKeeper payment from their employer. Will this affect any claim for income protection?

We may need to consider their JobKeeper payment when assessing the income protection benefit claim.  This would depend on the terms and conditions of the policy and the circumstances of the claim. 

For example, income protection policies sold within superannuation are subject to the superannuation regulations, which limit benefits on claim to 100% of pre-disability income, including any income received from an employer or other insurances. 

Different considerations need to be made for income protection policies owned outside superannuation. This may include treating the JobKeeper payments as income paid from their employer and adjusting benefits accordingly. 

What happens if they are receiving JobKeeper and working while partially disabled?

We will treat JobKeeper as employment income and we will offset the benefit.

For West­pac Group cus­tomers, a COVID-19 Cus­tomer Help Pack­age may pro­vide as­sis­tance if they have been im­pacted by this cri­sis. More in­for­ma­tion can be found on west­pac.com.au.

What happens if my client is receiving JobKeeper and not working?

For policies outside superannuation, we will not treat JobKeeper as employment income should your client not be working, and we will not offset the benefit. 

For West­pac Group cus­tomers, a COVID-19 Cus­tomer Help Pack­age may pro­vide as­sis­tance if they have been im­pacted by this cri­sis. More in­for­ma­tion can be found on west­pac.com.au.

What happens if my client is receiving JobKeeper while receiving Total Disability benefits?

For policies outside superannuation, we will not offset the JobKeeper benefit.

For West­pac Group cus­tomers, a COVID-19 Cus­tomer Help Pack­age may pro­vide as­sis­tance if they have been im­pacted by this cri­sis. More in­for­ma­tion can be found on west­pac.com.au.

You can be assured that our claims team will work with you and your client to help you understand how any JobKeeper payment will be considered for their claim.

Please get into contact with our claims team on 1300 553 764, who are ready to assist. 

Can clients increase their level of insurance cover or apply for a new policy?

Yes. BT’s assessment criteria and underwriting principles currently apply for any increase or top-up applications.

In view of the unique circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the impacts of associated restrictions, and following the advice of our Chief Medical Officer, we are required to address the issues associated with COVID-19 and these are taken into consideration during our underwriting process.

Applications are assessed on an individual basis, and some aspects include:

  • clients who are not resident in Australia or intend to travel outside Australia in the short term may not be offered new or increased cover
  • some limitations to cover may apply for clients in higher risk groups, however, personal circumstances will be considered
  • known or possible exposure to COVID-19
  • other individual risk factors, and
  • potential occupational and financial impacts.

These guidelines:

  • apply to all new applications, increases or top-ups in cover, and amendments such as reduced waiting periods; any application currently in suspense waiting for outstanding requirements; and applications for reinstatement
  • do not impact any existing policy(ies) unless cover is increased, as indicated.

In support of the FSC industry agreement, we have confirmed that we will not apply exclusions or deny claims related to COVID-19 under existing cover frontline workers hold with us, including medical professionals and police.

For new applications, and increases or changes to existing cover, by relevant healthcare workers, exposure or potential exposure to novel coronavirus will not of itself be used to automatically result in modified underwriting terms.

We are closely monitoring developments and our underwriting approach may change at any time to respond to the rapidly changing situation. We’ll keep you updated.

My client has tested positive for COVID-19 and needs to make a claim

The usual process will apply. Please get into contact with our claims team on 1300 553 764 who are ready to assist and let us know if you need any additional support because of these circumstances.

What happens if BT’s offices are shut down?

BT has robust business continuity plans in place which are tested regularly, so we are prepared for unexpected events and disruptions to business. We also have developed a response to the additional challenges of operating in the current environment where so many of our customers, suppliers, and business partners are also impacted.

You can be assured we are working to maintain operations and be available to support you and your clients during this time, however we appreciate your understanding with potential impacts on our service levels and response times as we also focus on the health and wellbeing of everyone involved.

What if my client is facing hardship and is struggling to pay their premium?

We understand some of your clients may be experiencing significant economic impacts and facing hardship. While their life insurance policies do not cover business slowdown and closure, we want to work with you to help maintain their cover, where possible. Our team are available to discuss individual situations and we have a number of options available to provide relief on a case-by-case basis.

For Westpac Group customers, a COVID-19 Customer Help Package is available to provide assistance to those who have been impacted by this crisis. More information can be found on westpac.com.au.

Does BT’s income protection policy cover clients if they need to self-isolate?

An income protection policy will cover your client if they are unable to work due to sickness or injury in line with the terms and conditions of the policy, and depending upon the waiting period selected. The policy does not pay benefits for self-isolation.

Does BT’s income protection policy cover my client if their business shuts down due to COVID-19?

The income protection policy will cover your client if they are unable to work due to sickness or injury in line with the terms and conditions of the policy and depending upon the waiting period selected. The policy does not pay benefits if your client’s business closes down due to COVID-19.

For Westpac Group customers, a COVID-19 Customer Help Package is available to provide assistance if you or your clients have been impacted by this crisis. More information can be found on westpac.com.au – Help for Business or westpac.com.au – Customer Support.

Does BT’s income protection policy cover my client if they are told they cannot go to work due to a shutdown as a result of COVID-19?

Income protection policies provide coverage if clients are unable to work due to sickness or injury in line with the terms and conditions of the policy and depending upon the waiting period selected. The policy does not pay benefits if they are told they cannot go to work as the workplace has shut down.

Will there be any changes to the way in which you manage claims in light of the pandemic?

Our Claims Philosophy will remain unchanged and we will continue to pay claims in line with our philosophy. BT is proud to participate in the Financial Services Council’s (FSC) COVID-19 Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) Initiative. The period covered by the initiative is from 11 March 2020 to 1 January 2021.

The FSC’s voluntary initiative ensures that if people areadversely affected by lost working hours and/or income due to COVID-19 this will not affect their eligibility for TPD cover if they make a claim.

If your client meets the criteria set out in the FSC’s initiative, BT will assess eligibility to claim and any applicable TPD definition based on their working arrangements as at 11 March 2020. Claims will also continue to be considered under the normal terms of the policy.

We aim to maintain continuity of care during this time participating in our health support programs. We can continue to deliver support to clients through tele-health services with no face-to-face interaction, minimising risks while enabling them to continue to receive the exercise, health coaching and counselling support needed during their recovery, and regardless of location.

 

How is BT responding to COVID-19 impacts?

As a business, we continue to monitor the developing situation and review updated guidance from reputable sources including independent medical advice. Our priority is to keep our people, business partners and customers as safe as possible whilst maintaining business operations.

Measures we have introduced include:

  • team members working remotely, to enable them to continue to support business critical functions
  • reviewing priorities of tasks to focus on the most important functions such as helping our operational teams support you and your clients
  • clear protocols for our people regarding their health and safety, including broad self-isolation directives to minimise the spread of all health concerns, adhering to social distancing recommendations, and additional cleaning for corporate sites.

What can I do to help?

Continue to reassure your clients that we are there to support them if they need to check their policies, increase their cover or make a claim. Use these FAQs to help answer your client’s common queries and remember we are available to help you with any questions you or your clients have.

Your Business Development Manager is available if you have questions or need help. We’re determined to stay connected however it suits you – email, phone and videoconferencing – and we’re committed to helping you maintain your focus on serving clients and their financial needs through these difficult times.

If you have any additional questions or scenarios which have not been answered here, please contact your Business Development Manager so we can update these Frequently Asked Questions.

Thank you for your continued support.

* Not applicable to BT Super for Life.

Disclaimer

The Insurer of Protection Plans is Westpac Life Insurance Services Limited (WLISL) ABN 31 003 149 157, except for Term Life as Superannuation and Income Protection as Superannuation which are issued by BT Funds Management Limited ABN 63 002 916 458 (BTFM) as trustee of the Retirement Wrap ABN39 827 542 991. WLISL and BTFM are wholly owned subsidiaries of Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 (the Bank). The Bank does not guarantee the insurance. This information has been prepared by WLISL and is for use by advisers only. Terms and conditions, and limitations and exclusions apply. This information is not intended to be the only source of readers’ knowledge Read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to see if this insurance is right for your client. The PDS explains conditions, terms, limits and exclusions and is available by visiting bt.com.au.

FOR ADVISER USE ONLY: This material has been prepared for advisers only and us current as at 4 September 2020. It must not be copied, used, reproduced or otherwise distributed or circulated to any retail client or other party.

© Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL and Australian credit licence 233714.