Navigating finances - using insurance during cancer

If you’re facing cancer, navigating insurance entitlements might not be on your radar.

We’ve found some resources that could help you understand the various insurance entitlements out there and how you can access them.

You may have insurance that you don’t even know about. Did you know that some industry superannuation funds automatically sign up their clients to certain insurances?

In fact, according to ASIC:

“Super funds typically have three types of insurance for members:

  • Life insurance – pays a benefit to your beneficiaries when you die, either as a lump sum or as an income stream
  • Total and permanent disability (TPD) cover – pays you a benefit if you become seriously disabled and are unlikely to ever work again
  • Income protection (IP) cover – pays you an income stream for a specified period if you can’t work due to temporary disability or illness”

You can check your insurance policy by contacting your super fund and filling out a claim form where you will probably be asked for supporting evidence or documentation.

According to Redkite, if you have no health insurance you can still join a health fund at any time. This is because, “health funds in Australia are not allowed to refuse membership or charge higher prices to people because of their health status or claims history.”

However, keep in mind if you buy health insurance after you have been diagnosed with cancer they will probably have a waiting period for a pre-existing illness. Once this period has passed, you can make a claim.

If you’re confused about what cover to get, the website privatehealth.gov.au allows you to compare cover between health funds. You can also fill out an online query or call with any questions. They provide services for hearing and speech impaired people, and non-English speakers too.

If you do have private health insurance, discuss your treatment plan with your insurer as soon as you can – before treatment starts, if possible – and find out about your level of cover.

If you’re a parent of a child with cancer, and they’re listed on your health insurance policy, you should also advise your fund as soon as possible and ask how they can help.

Please remember, you can dispute a rejected claim. In fact, in the online handbook Cancer and Your Finances, the Cancer Council suggests you “get in touch with the Financial Ombudsman Service … You can also call Cancer Council 13 11 20 to see whether we can connect you with a lawyer for assistance.”

As discussed early, income protection insurance (IPI) is a policy that pays you a cash amount if you are unable to work due to sudden illness. It’s also one of the insurances that you might be covered for in your super.

According to Work After Cancer, if you do have income protection, it can “provide up to 85% of your usual wage and may be paid out weekly or monthly for up to 2 years (or sometimes until an individual is 60 or 65).”

However, you can only access your IPI if you plan to return to work. Also, it can involve a waiting period of up to six months. If you’re on Centrelink benefits and then start receiving IPI payments, make sure to let Centrelink know as soon as you can to avoid repaying benefits.

If you’re a young person in palliative care with life insurance, you’ll either be covered through your superannuation fund or through a “stand alone” policy. You can apply to access it either directly through your super fund or through your insurance company.

Trauma insurance pays a lump sum if you’re diagnosed with a specific illness including cancer. You can apply to access it directly with your insurance company or even through a financial broker.

ASIC confirms that trauma insurance can be used for things like:

  • Any private medical costs above your health insurance
  • An income stream if you stop working, but find out about income protection first
  • The ongoing cost of any therapy and special transport costs
  • Adjustments to housing and lifestyle changes
  • Debt repayments
Have we missed something? If there is a finance question you need answered, please don’t hesitate to let us know and we will do what we can to answer it for you.

Cancer Advisor has a range of resources on finances and cancer, but we’re always looking for more content. Leave a comment below, share your own story or recommend a resource.

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