A discussion on Volunteers and Life Insurance.

A discussion on Volunteers and Life Insurance.

Volunteering is an Australian tradition. Helping out your mates and being there for each other, especially in times of crisis, is part of our culture and way of life. Like most Australians I have been following the bushfires and have witnessed incredible bravery and sacrifice from volunteers across the country. 

They respond because they care about their communities. My own personal experience was, a giant pine tree crashing into my home causing severe damage. This was the result of a freak storm just before Christmas, the first responders were my local State Emergency Services brigade. Calm, cheerful and reassuring, just great and capable people.

Volunteers come from all walks of life, you can be in a traditionally low-risk job by day and ‘after hours’ fighting fires, responding to storm damage, or helping flood affected communities. So how does this impact insurance, and are you covered if you undertake volunteering?

The role of the underwriter is to protect the pool of insured lives at his or her company. So, when deciding whether we should cover such risks, we consider:

  • What is the exposure – how many volunteers of many persuasions (SES, RFS, CFA, Army reserve etc) are there in Australia compared to the population?
  • And what about the time they spend in the more hazardous volunteer job compared to their usual job? This is a part time role – so we have butchers, bakers and candlestick makers in day jobs and volunteering is their ‘after hours’ role.
  • What is the incidence? Of the many people who volunteer for a range of community service tasks – how many are unfortunately killed or injured in those roles compared to their ‘civilian’ job?
  • And taking all that into consideration, would this incidence have a marked and abnormal effect on the pool of lives insured? That is, are we letting in lives who present a greatly increased risk compared to the average?

So, at Integrity, like a good many other life companies, we cover all our insured customers when they are acting as volunteers in any capacity. Whether you’re directly involved or providing support like food and resources to the front line you’re covered. If you’re not with Integrity Life, you should check that you are covered as there may be an exclusion. If any clients have any doubts and would like our reassurance, please direct them to this article, or we are happy to write to them and confirm their cover.

At the end of the day, our position is; with volunteering being so prevalent, it should be considered part of the experience of the pool of insureds and have no effect on the pool, so we insure our clients even when they’re volunteering.

Scott Hodgson

Scott Hodgson

Chief Underwriter

Six ways to beat seasonal stress this holiday.

Six ways to beat seasonal stress this holiday.

As fun as the silly season is, it can also be stressful for many people. To help you along, we have gathered some great tips from some of the leading experts in Mental Health to help you out.

1. Think before you commit yourself.
We can often perform tasks merely to feel accepted by other people; there is no better example of this than the holiday period, when we try to squeeze everything into our diaries. Practice saying ‘no’ to requests that are unreasonable or more than you can handle at the time, rather than suffer subsequent regrets and stress.

2. Practice meditation.
Here’s an easy one! Imagine air as a cloud. Open your imagination and focus on your breathing. As your breathing becomes calm and regular, imagine that the air comes to you as a cloud: it fills you and goes out. You may imagine the cloud to be a particular colour.

3. Set aside time each day for recreation and exercise.
Gentle repetitive exercise such as walking, swimming and cycling are good for relieving stress. Meditation, yoga, pilates and dance are also excellent. The trick is to find what suits you best. Hobbies that focus attention are also good stress relievers and can give you a sense of achievement and satisfaction.

4. Watch your alcohol intake.
It’s easy to get caught up in festive activities, and sometimes a drink or two can feel like a solution to a problem, but it will only help temporarily. Drinking can create more problems in terms of physical and mental health. Consider the effects you are looking for (sedation and stimulation) and whether or not you can achieve them differently.

5. Perform small acts of kindness.
Performing five kind acts a week creates a measurable boost to levels of psychological wellbeing. Giving not only makes you feel good about yourself, it enhances your connection with others and can bring you positive feedback from others.

6. Don’t do it alone.
For some of us Christmas can be an overwhelming time and sometimes isolating, but we don’t have to do it alone. If times get tough, pick up the phone and talk to someone you trust.

Integrity Life

Integrity Life

From the newsroom

Exclusions while travelling at home and abroad.

Exclusions while travelling at home and abroad.

As Australians get ready for the holiday season and families come together from across the globe, domestic and international travel increases. While it may not have occurred to you, this leads insurers to think about the risks associated with travel. To understand the reason for restrictions on locations and the inclusion of war and terrorism exclusions in insurance policies, we need to look to the past.  So, let’s go back in time to start at the beginning.

Originally, war exclusions were placed on life insurance policies as a solvency protection measure i.e. to ensure a large event didn’t send an insurer broke! Australia’s population is quite small by world standards, so if a large number of your insured lives went off to armed conflict, and many were killed, then that has a huge impact on the pool of lives – it could lead to life insurers not being able to pay claims. Now, this was relevant when wars were fought by large armies (often volunteers from the civilian population rather than professional soldiers – think of WW1) and pre-dates solvency measures we have today (regulated by APRA).

More recently, a derivative of the war exclusion was developed; the War, Terrorism and Armed Conflict exclusion. The life insurance industry adopted the idea that terrorism risk should be excluded – because many life underwriters got caught up in exaggerated risk perpetuated by politicians and the media. Statistically, you’re more likely to be struck by lightning or drowning in a bathtub than be the victim of a terrorist attack. This is despite Aussie’s being very enthusiastic travellers overseas.

The terrorism exclusion has also now become somewhat outdated, and not just because the incidence of terrorism is so small.

The expectations of the community and Integrity’s view of what is fair and right is that, in the event of a customer being killed by terrorists, we would want to assist the member and pay the claim. Therefore, Integrity Life does not use a terrorism exclusion.

It’s worth acknowledging that general travel risks are managed using the Australian Department of Foreign affairs and Trade travel warnings. Cover will not be offered if the prevailing travel warning is ‘reconsider your need to travel’ or ‘Do not travel’. But as you can imagine, most of the countries falling into these categories are not popular holiday destinations.

If you’re already insured with Integrity – great! Your policy provides 24/7 coverage worldwide. Plus, if you have our Care Support Package, we can help get you home should you have experience serious injury or illness.

Scott Hodgson

Scott Hodgson

Chief Underwriter

Why good design matters in Life Insurance.

Why good design matters in Life Insurance.

Our Managing Director and CEO, Chris Powell, was recently at a dinner, sitting next to the head of a large dealer group. He was chatting to Chris about our Adviser Portal and our next biggest competitors’ portal. He had decided to do a timed test between the two. Same case, same data – portal against portal. One took 45 minutes, and one took 14. Chris relays that, at this point in the story, he was thinking confidently to himself “ours will be the quickest”. Of course, it was, and in this story, we have our first example of why good design matters. How much it matters, is about to exponentially increase.

Advisers have had a tough year in 2019. The combination of changes in commissions, exams, increases in fees from some dealer groups, the Royal Commission and bad press driving down trust (even for the good guys) it’s no wonder many are leaving the industry. For those who stay, they’re going to need a shift in focus and new ways of working to maintain the same levels of business. Operational efficiency is going to be part of the way that Advisers are able to do more with less. Focusing on margins will mean that all processes will be under the microscope. Enter, good design.

What is ‘design’ anyway?

When we talk about ‘design’ we’re not talking about how lovely our logo looks (although we certainly have our admirers having won both the Sydney and Melbourne Design Awards for brand) we’re talking about a process by which everything from forms, to buttons, and every little digital behavior is tested and optimized. Why? Because we have a simple goal in design. Make it as simple, easy, and quick to use as possible. 

Can design effect lives?

In our earlier anecdote, you can see how good design can save you time and money, but can it go further? If you’re in Australia, then you may be familiar with plan packaging for all tobacco products. We made history in 2012 as the first country in the world to introduce such a measure. To make sure we got it right, the Department of Health and Ageing hired market research company GfK Blue Moon to find the ugliest colour in the world. After seven studies involving 1,000 smokers, the researchers chose a particularly nauseating shade of brown known as Pantone 448C, or ‘opaque couché’. It was associated with death, tar and dirt – and now it’s been coupled with cigarettes, too. The measure is attributed to reducing the number of smokers by significant numbers. It’s not difficult then to see how poor design could have a detrimental impact on someone’s life if they fail to disclose critical information or believe they are covered for something they’re not – and it can all come down to design.

The final note.

This year, we were fortunate enough to win a Good Design Award – the only Life Insurance company to ever win one. It was awarded for our Adviser portal based on how easy and simple it was to navigate and use. Like us, the people at Good Design Australia have seen the power of good design first-hand. They believe that good design doesn’t just exist for aesthetic reasons, although they are important, it’s about solving human problems, driving innovation and ultimately making life better. And that’s why we’re in Life Insurance!

Integrity Life

Integrity Life

From the newsroom

Psychology hacks and tips for better mental health.

Psychology hacks and tips for better mental health.

1. Let’s dance!

In this study, Swedish researchers found that not only does dancing help reduce anxiety and depression, but the positive effects of dancing can also stay with you for up to eight months after you stop. Talk about bang for buck! Not only is dancing good for you physically, but the social aspects also make this one of my top picks. So whether you attend a Zumba class or traditional dance class, you can be sure you are doing your body and mind a world of good.  

2. Laughing with you.

As they say, laughter is the best medicine – turns out, they’re not far off. When you laugh and smile your brain releases dopamine which produces feelings of happiness and endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers). However, when you laugh, rather than just smile, the brain also releases nitric oxide that boosts the immune system and improves wellness. Finding ‘the funny’ in your day can be a challenge, so that’s where classes like Laughter Yoga can help.

3. Schedule in ‘worry time’.

It might sound like an odd thing to do, but hear me out… The theory is if you spend a lot of time worrying to dedicate 45 minutes a day to doing nothing by worrying. You can either write them down or take a walk and worry. When things come to mind during the day, save them for your dedicated “worry time”.

4. Forest bathing.

While this practice began in Japan in the ‘80s, it wasn’t until 2012, after an eight-year and $4 million-dollar study that it was scientifically proven. What it involves is spending mindfulness time among the trees. This isn’t about hiking or exercise – it’s about connecting to forest surroundings through all the senses and it turns out that’s where one of the key benefits are. The reason this improves health is due to various essential oils, generally called phytoncide, found in wood, plants, and some fruit and vegetables, which trees emit to protect themselves from germs and insects. Forest air doesn’t just feel fresher and better—inhaling phytoncide seems to actually improve immune system function. The practice is well regarded in Japan but is also now taking off around the world.

5. Give minimalism a try.

If a lot of your stress and anxiety are about not having ‘enough’, then it might seem odd to note that there is a huge body of research showing how minimalism actually improves mental health. There are the obvious reasons, like having more space to unwind, focusing on what is truly important and being able to find your keys in the morning, but there are less obvious examples too. By exercising self-control in ‘editing down’ your life, you combat one of the key issues in mental illness which is being loss of control. So why not give minimalism a try?

 

Who to speak to if you’re not ok

Lifeline provides 24-hour crisis counseling, support groups and suicide prevention services. Call 13 11 14.

MindSpot is a free telephone and online service for people with stress, worry, anxiety, low mood or depression. It provides online assessment and treatment for anxiety and depression. MindSpot is not an emergency or instant response service. Call 1800 61 44 34 AEST, 8am-8pm (Mon-Fri), 8am-6pm (Sat).

MensLine Australia is a professional telephone and online support and information service for Australian men. Call 1300 78 99 78, 24 hours / 7 days a week.

 

Integrity Life

Integrity Life

From the newsroom