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The meaning of life (insurance): 3 questions to ask yourself before getting covered

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Thinking about life insurance isn’t the most fun way of passing a Sunday afternoon. Who wants to spend their time pondering all the things that could go wrong? Can’t we just sort of close our eyes and hope for the best?

Well, not really. See, the secret is that thinking about life insurance isn’t really thinking about your life, it’s thinking about the lives of the people who depend on you.

But life insurance can be complicated, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the details, exclusions and fine print. When it comes down to it, life insurance is about helping to protect you and your loved ones, so the really important factors boil down to just a few big questions you need to ask yourself.

1. How much cover do I need?

So, how much are we talking here? The amount of life insurance cover you might need depends on your current situation: your income, whether you have a mortgage, if you have any other debt, if kids are part of the picture, and what stage of life you’re at.

You can use Consumer’s life insurance cover calculator to make your own estimate, and to find out how much the cover could cost you, try out the Life & Living Insurance calculator on

2. Is there more to life insurance than just life insurance?

Life insurance is there for if you pass away, but some products also provide cover in case you're suddenly unable to work due to illness, injury or redundancy – something to consider, unless you’ve got a considerable amount of savings put aside. These options vary according to your provider, so it’s worth asking about them as you shop around.

You might assume that if you get injured and can’t work you’ll be covered by ACC. But ACC’s cover doesn’t extend to illness, which could also prevent you from working indefinitely. If ACC is out, what options will be available to you?

3. What about pre-existing conditions or my current lifestyle?

Where people often get freaked about life insurance is when they start to think about their pre-existing conditions. But it might not be as prohibitive as you think.

You just need to answer all those health and lifestyle questions honestly. An untruth about your health now might mean a claim gets denied down the track.

A health condition from your past doesn’t necessarily exclude you from some cover in the future. It’s always best to ask. Your provider (potentially along with a doctor) may be able to sort out special conditions to allow some cover for you.

If you’re looking at a life insurance package that doesn’t place much emphasis on health, review the fine print. These tend to have clauses for “pre-existing conditions”, meaning you’re not covered if you pass away from conditions that you had when you took the cover

A good tip is to ask your insurer to get your medical records. You’ll still need to answer all the questions honestly, but it may give you peace of mind if you feel you could have forgotten something.

So there you go.

The three questions above are by no means the only things you’ll need to think about, but they’re a good place to start.

No doubt, once you start looking into it, you’ll have more questions – don’t worry, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to make this all work. That’s why finding a decent provider who’s happy to talk to you about your options is a terrific first start—ask around, your friends and family might know just the crowd to talk to.

And then you can get back to thinking of something a bit more fun…

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Information contained in this article is correct at the date of publishing and is intended as general information only. This article does not take into account your current financial situation, and goals and is not personal advice.