Income Protection versus Workers Compensation

Individuals have often questioned the validity of having income protection insurance, especially if their employer provides Workers Compensation cover.

Workers Compensation Cover

There have been numerous occasions where debate has existed in respect of benefits provided to employees through Workers Compensation cover. There are some who believe that the cover provided by Workers Compensation will be sufficient. This view may well be misguided in light of the benefits available to employees around Australia. Let's examine the situation around Australia.

The biggest issue with Workers Compensation is that there is no consistency between the states. Benefit amounts and benefit periods vary considerably depending upon the state the work related injury occurs in. Workers compensation will normally provide four types of benefits for an employee incurring a work related injury: income replacement, permanent impairment, death benefits and medical expenses. In some instances, a worker may receive all four benefits, depending on their circumstances.

Weekly benefits. Depending upon the state the benefit vary greatly and these benefits may be paid from 13 weeks to 9 years, depending upon the state, but are normally subject to the maximum limits under the lump sum (impairment) benefit.

Lump sum (impairment) benefit. Depending upon the state the benefit also vary greatly. Lump sum benefits are paid after specific medical evidence is presented to a tribunal which decides the amount due based on the level of impairment incurred and it is in addition to the weekly benefits.

Death benefits. Again depending upon the state the benefit vary with Queensland providing the greatest benefit at $374,625.

Medical Expenses. In most states, Workers Compensation covers all reasonable medical surgical and hospital care for work related injuries.

The most significant concern for anyone who relies solely on Workers Compensation to protect their income is what happens in the case of illness or an injury that occurs away from work? Simply, the employee is not covered by Workers Compensation. The risk to the individual is significant, especially considering only 25% of injuries occur at work, while 27% of all injuries occur while a person is undertaking a leisure activity, 11% while playing sports, and the remaining 37% occurred around the home. Although almost 700,000 people sustain work related injuries each year, only 216,000 received Workers Compensation benefits.

Illnesses and Chronic Disability. There are currently 4 million people with a disability and 1.2 million people with a severe disability, which may include conditions such as cancer, depression, stroke, diabetes, asthma, or back problems (just to name a few). In most cases, these conditions would not be covered by Workers Compensation. (ABS, 2003 'Work related injuries)'.

Income Protection Insurance

Income protection insurance provides cover for individuals, 24 hours a day, anywhere in the world, regardless of impairment. If a person is either sick or injured, and is unable to work, then the income protection benefits are available for the individual.

The other great thing about income protection cover is that it can provide benefits in excess of AWOTE, which is normally the limit for most Workers Compensation payments.

The limitations with income protection is that it normally replaces 75% of pre-disability income, and there is normally a waiting period of 14 days to 90 days depending upon the options selected.

Unlike Workers Compensation benefits, income protection benefits do not have a maximum benefit payment, and benefits normally continue through to age 65 (rather than being limited to a maximum of 4 to 9 years).

When examining the lifespan of the average worker earning approx $50,000 per annum (Australian Bureau of Statistics Average Weekly Earnings) and working to age 65, there is a potential of $2,000,000 of earnings over 40 years.

Ideally the role of an adviser is to both educate and protect their clients. When discussing the cover provided by Workers Compensation it is vital that advisers consider all the benefits of protecting their client's most important asset - their income earning capability.

Summary

Insurance Companies provide Lump Sum and Income Protection cover that is available to complete the risk insurance portfolio required by employees who may be lulled into a state of complacency where Workers Compensation benefits are considered.

Important information. The taxation information, social security information and examples are of a general nature only and should not be regarded as specific advice. It is based on the continuation of present taxation laws (2008-2009 rates), superannuation laws, social security laws, rulings and their interpretation as at the issue date of this article.

Enquire now and we will put you in contact with one of our consultants who can provide quotes from up to 12 Australian insurance companies. If you apply through Rate Detective you will receive 20% off* your first year's insurance premiums (no matter which provider you choose). You will not receive it by going through the insurance companies and asking for income protection yourself!

* This offer is available for all insurance companies that are on our panel. To take advantage of this offer, mention the offer to Rate Detective at the time you submit an enquiry for a quote. When you receive your renewal notice from your insurer, give us a call and we will provide the rebate to you. To be eligible for this offer, your policy needs to remain in force for the full 12 months. Any rebate to which you are entitled will be paid directly into your bank account or provided on a Gift Card.

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Published on July 7-th, 2008 in Income Protection Insurance
Damon Rasheed is the CEO of Rate Detective, an Australian financial service comparison sites specialising in Life Insurance, Income Protection Insurance and home loans. Damon holds a Master's Degree in Economics from the University of Melbourne and has been involved in many start-up internet businesses.

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Any information or advice contained on this website is general in nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.