Asteron's additional Financial Hardship Support during COVID-19
At Asteron, we are here to help you. These are challenging times for our community and Asteron is here to support our customers when they need us most and are facing immediate financial hardship.
In addition to Asteron's standard financial hardship provisions found here, we are providing our customers and small-to-medium business partners with further support. Asteron is also a signatory to the Life Insurance Code of Practice, which also requires all life insurers to have arrangements in place to support customers who are experiencing financial hardship.
We encourage any customers facing financial difficulty to contact Asteron directly on 1800 221 727, or contact your financial adviser to discuss what options might be available for you.
Further support for Customers on Claim
To our ensure our claims managers can provide you with the best possible support while you are on claim, Asteron has identified further support where COVID-19 may affect the management of your claim, including:
- Establishing a dedicated team of experts across our Claims and Health Services functions to develop practical claims solutions for customers and to support claims managers with technical advice, including guidance on collecting medical evidence and other requests of our customers.
- We understand that some customers may find it difficult to collect certain information required to process or assess their claim, either due to social distancing, self-isolation or other matters, so we will continue to listen, and be flexible and pragmatic in our approach.
- For income protection claims where we know a customer’s medical condition or incapacity is likely to continue in the short term, our team has started to schedule benefit payments up to the next three months. We are able to schedule future income protection benefit payments for up to three months, within the limitations of your policy, to ensure customers have confidence they will receive their benefits in advance and on time.
We encourage you to speak with your claims manager who will be able to assist you with any concerns you may have regarding your claim. Our claims managers are here to support you.
Further support for Existing Customers
It is important to understand that all Asteron policies come with a grace period or period of extended cover when customers miss a premium payment. Generally, your insurance cover continues for at least 30 days if you miss a premium payment. So don’t worry if you have missed a premium payment recently, you are still covered for at least 30 days depending on your individual policy.
If you are an existing customer and having difficulty in making premium payments on your policy then Asteron can offer a range of options to provide you with support to maintain your policy.
Please note that in some circumstances, some of these options may not be available to all customers, particularly if your individual insurance policy is funded through your superannuation fund.
- Options to reduce or change your level of cover. In these circumstances, you may temporarily reduce your level of cover and premium to make it more affordable. This could include reducing your sum insured, removing inflation indexation, removing some optional benefits, or in the case of Income Protection benefits adjusting your waiting period or benefit period. If you reduce your sum insured between now and the 30 June 2020 due to COVID-19 related hardship then TAL will allow you to upgrade your policy to the original sum insured without any health or financial underwriting, as long as you apply to do so within six months of the decrease*. Please note that if your occupation changes during the period of cover pause then this may require an additional occupational underwriting assessment prior to reinstatement. So that we can administer this offer, you will need to notify us that you are reducing your sum insured due to COVID-19 related hardship, and complete a form that we will send to you. If you choose to reduce the level of cover of your term life policy, TAL will continue to provide term life cover for you for death as a result of COVID-19 (free of charge) for your original policy sum insured, up to a maximum sum insured of $750,000. This applies for a period up to 30 September 2020.
- Options to pause your cover. In some circumstances, you may be able to suspend your policy and full amount of cover and premium payments for a period of time. TAL will recommence your policy to the original level of cover without any additional underwriting assessment provided the policy recommences before 30 September 2020*. During this suspended policy period, you will not be covered for any benefit nor pay any premiums, however if you have term life cover, TAL will continue to provide term life cover for you for death as a result of COVID-19 (free of charge) for the policy sum insured, up to a maximum sum insured of $750,000. This applies for a period up to 30 September 2020.
- Increased flexibility around policy premium payments. TAL has generally increased flexibility around policy payment guidelines. In addition, the reinstatement period for lapsed policies will be increased to provide you with more payment flexibility and options.
These additional measures of support for our customers who are facing difficulty with paying their premiums will be considered where one or more of the following circumstances apply**:
- You experience involuntary unemployment.
- You are eligible to receive the Australian Government “Jobkeeper” or “Jobseeker” payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (including the single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance.
- You are required to take leave without pay for a minimum period of 3 months.
- Your hours of employment have been significantly decreased due to workplace restrictions as a result of COVID 19.
- You are hospitalised as a result of COVID-19.
*Additional terms and conditions will apply to cover that is reinstated or resumed following a cover pause and these will be explained to you prior to you taking up any of these options. ** Please contact us first to see which options are available for your policy. Policies must have been in place for a minimum period of 6 months to access our full range of premium payment options.
Further support for New Customers
Asteron supports the FSC Commitment for new life insurance customers. As part that commitment, Asteron ensures frontline medical workers, who do not currently have cover or have only a low level of cover, are able to access all types of life insurance cover regardless of their exposure, or potential exposure, to people that have COVID-19. This includes: income protection cover, trauma and/or critical illness cover, total permanent disability cover, and life cover. The Commitment can be viewed here.
Support for Small Business and SMEs
A strong and resilient small business is sector is critical for the Australian community and economy. As a principle, Asteron will actively seek out opportunities to work with, and engage, small and medium sized (SME) enterprises. In addition, Asteron will reduce our payment times for SME suppliers and businesses from 30 days to 14 days to support their cashflow requirements.
We recognise that each customer has their own individual circumstances and we encourage you to call a Asteron Customer Service representative on 1800 221 727, or contact your financial adviser to discuss your individual situation.
These additional financial hardship policies are available for customers for an initial period up to 30 June 2020, and then will be further reviewed at that time.
These financial hardship measures and options will be reviewed by Asteron on a regular basis as the COVID-19 situation evolves and therefore these terms may be subject to change.
Asteron's standard financial hardship provisions are as follows
Dealing with the unplanned
In life, unplanned events can happen that leave you in a financial position that you didn’t expect. These events may include:
- injury or illness,
- unexpected changes in income or expenditure,
- a relationship breakdown or death in the family, or
- a natural disaster such as floods, fires, etc.
This may result in a short term or long term issue for you. If you require support or assistance during this time, please don't hesitate to contact us
What can you do if you're experiencing financial hardship?
If the unexpected happens get in touch with our Customer Service team on 1800 221 727 and they can talk you through the options that may be available to help you through a difficult time. Or, you may wish to speak with your financial adviser. You may also need to provide supporting documentation to assist with your application.
If you have Asteron Life Insurance, we may be able to help with:
- accessing features of your cover that may assist with affordability,
- assisting you to make changes to your policy and/or change to a different type of policy, and
- discussing your payment options.
Other ways to get help
If you're dealing with financial hardship it’s important that you get the help and support you need. In addition to speaking with us, these organisations may be able to provide you with further assistance.
|National debt helpline||www.ndh.org.au|
|MoneySmart||www.moneysmart.gov.au or call 13 11 14|
Life Insurance Code of Practice
We have signed up to the Life Insurance Code of Practice. This Code sets out our obligations to you, covering the standards we must meet, rules around disclosure and how we should act when it comes to assisting with financial hardship. You can read the Code of Practice or find out more about it on the FSC website.
This standard does not apply to policies owned by a superannuation fund trustee as access to superannuation benefits is limited by law. However, you should contact the trustee directly as they may have other means of assisting you with financial hardship.