Don’t forget superannuation could help with disability benefits
If you are injured don’t forget to check whether you have death or disability cover as part of your superannuation scheme.
Many superannuation policies now include a death or disability benefit. It is one of the few circumstances where it is perfectly OK to “double dip” – you can pursue a claim for compensation or a claim for damages arising out of an accident, and then pursue a disability benefit through your superannuation fund.
It is a right you have already paid for with a premium deducted from your superannuation fund. Any death or disability benefit available through a superannuation policy comes under a policy issued by an insurance company. These benefits could include temporary disability, permanent disability, income protection and trauma.
But it could be hard to get the insurance company behind your superannuation disability policy to pay up. They generally make it as hard as possible to qualify. Usually the test for a benefit is the degree to which an injury prevents you earning an income. The insurer will refer you to a medical specialist to assess the level of your disability. That specialist may be unsympathetic to you, knowing they may get more referrals from the insurance company.
But if the insurer’s medical specialist assesses you as ineligible for a claim, you can go to another specialist for a second opinion. If that specialist concludes you are unlikely to ever be “fit for work for which you are reasonably suited by reason of education and training or experience” then you can start legal action so that a judge can decide whether the insurer was reasonable in refusing your claim for a disability benefit.
It usually doesn’t get as far as a court. Once legal proceedings are started the claim is mostly settled on a compromise basis. It’s wise to get advice from a lawyer specialising in this field. Insurance companies are very experienced in disputing claims and have experienced in-house lawyers to fight them.
It’s important to remember that time limits that apply to personal injury compensation claims do not apply to superannuation disability or death benefits. Generally – unless there is something specific in the policy – you can make a claim for this superannuation benefit within six years of the onset of disability. If it is an ongoing disability you can claim as long as you remain disabled.
If you’re not sure of the meaning of all the fine print in superannuation insurance it’s best have it examined by a legal expert.