We heard the first official reports about the novel coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) in January this year, however since then, the disease has spread and is now affecting almost every country in the world, including Australians living both here and overseas.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
We know that many advisers have been fielding enquiries from concerned clients about whether they are covered should they need to claim as a result of being diagnosed with COVID-19, so we have put together some answers to common questions to help.
We’ll keep you informed if any of the below information changes, but as always we’re here to help - your dedicated TAL Sales Team member is the best place to start if you require any assistance.
Are existing Accelerated Protection & Asteron Life Complete policy holders covered in the event of their death from COVID-19?
Yes. Customers who have an in-force Accelerated Protection or Asteron Life Complete policy are covered in the event of death from COVID-19.
There is no general COVID-19 exclusion in our individual life policies. All claims are assessed according to the terms and conditions of your specific policy. Please note, In some circumstances and on a case-by-case basis, there may be individual customer policy exclusions applied. You and your client will be notified about this during the application process, and it will be outlined in the policy schedule.
As with all claims, your client must have fulfilled their disclosure obligations and meet the terms of their policy in order to be eligible for a benefit payment.
Are existing Accelerated Protection & Asteron Life Complete policy holders covered for any TPD, Critical Illness or Income Protection insurance they may hold?
If your client becomes unwell and this impacts their ability to work beyond the duration of their waiting period, then subject to the terms and conditions of their specific policy, they may be able to claim an Income Protection benefit. Please note that cover is not provided and the Waiting Period does not commence where a life insured is self-isolating and unable to work, but is not suffering from a sickness.
Lump Sum benefits such as Critical Illness and TPD are intended to provide cover in the event of a serious health event that has material financial consequences for the life insured. In the case of TPD, this typically would mean that the health event would need to result in permanent impairment that prevents return to work.
So far, the majority of those who suffer from COVID-19 are likely to recover relatively quickly and with no permanent consequences. Given this, neither Critical Illness nor TPD specifically cover COVID-19, however in the event of serious and lasting secondary complications, Accelerated Protection & Asteron Life Complete customers may be provided with coverage in accordance with the specific policy terms.
Will other existing TAL or Asteron policy holders be covered for death or conditions relating to COVID-19?
For other TAL and Asteron Life retail policy holders, customers are covered as long as their policy does not have a special condition or exclusion clause that prevents a claim resulting from COVID-19 being paid (such as any specific exclusions relating to travel, pandemics, epidemics or lung related disease or respiratory-related conditions ).
Are existing Accelerated Protection & Asteron Life Complete policy holders covered if they travel to countries that have a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade ‘Do not travel’ advice warning?
Yes. Customers who have an inforce Accelerated Protection or Asteron Life Complete policy are covered if they travel to countries that the Australian Government has issued a ‘Do not travel’ advice warning for.
Please note, In some circumstances and on a case-by-case basis, there may be individual customer policy exclusions applied. You and your client will be notified about this during the application process, and it will be outlined in the policy schedule.
This is providing your client has fulfilled their disclosure obligations and meets the terms of their policy.
Will an applicant who is suffering from COVID-19 be able to obtain cover?
Applicants who have tested positive for COVID-19, or who are waiting for a test result, will not be immediately eligible for cover. These applicants can be reassessed once they have recovered and resumed their usual duties.
Can clients still purchase insurance cover from TAL?
Yes. If your clients wish to purchase insurance cover from TAL, then they can still do so, subject to our underwriting requirements.
We have made a commitment to ensure that relevant healthcare workers are not prevented from obtaining or increasing their life insurance cover, charged a higher premium, or subject to a specific exclusion purely due to exposure, or potential exposure, to COVID-19.
We’re proud to have worked with the FSC and others in our industry on this initiative to protect our frontline workers. Learn more about it here.
Useful links and further resources
With so much coverage in the media about COVID-19, it can be difficult to find the most up-to-date and accurate information to help the your clients understand the situation as it unfolds. My colleagues in our Health Services team have provided a few websites which may be of use to you and your clients over the coming weeks and months:
Important Information: This information has been prepared for use by licensed advisers in their professional capacity only, and is not intended to be provided to nor used by your clients for the purposes of making a decision about any financial product. Any advice is general in nature only and does not take into account your client’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on it, the appropriateness of the advice for your client should be considered, having regard to those factors.
Prior to making any decision to acquire or to continue to hold this product, advisers and their clients should obtain and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement.
Accelerated Protection and Accelerated Protection for Investment Platforms is issued by TAL Life Limited GPO Box 5380, Sydney NSW 2001, ABN 70 050 109 450 AFSL 237 848 and the Product Disclosure Statement is available at www.tal.com.au.
Asteron Life Complete is issued by Asteron Life & Superannuation Limited ABN 87 073 979 530 AFSL 229880 (Asteron) GPO Box 5380, Sydney NSW 2001, and the Product Disclosure Statement is available at www.asteronlife.com.au.
Any health information contained in or available through this document is not a substitute for advice from a qualified medical or other health professional. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health problem. Always consult your medical practitioner or other health professional in relation to any medical issue or concern. While all care has been taken to ensure that the information provided is accurate and complete at the date of publication, neither TAL nor its employees accept liability for any loss or damage caused as a result of reliance on the information.
This information is current at 20 APRIL 2020 and may be subject to change.