In February this year, the Government passed legislation which prevents trustees of APRA-regulated funds from providing insurance to members with inactive superannuation accounts, unless a member has directed otherwise.
It is a common practice for many individuals with a SMSF to also have a secondary APRA-regulated fund which provides them with insurance.
This may be done for two key reasons:
- To access insurance policies provided through large superannuation funds which are often cheaper.
- To keep legacy insurance policies which may offer better benefits or lower premiums than new policies, especially for older members.
In these circumstances, it is most likely that people holding these polices through an APRA-regulated super fund will consider that their SMSF is their primary superannuation account and therefore it receives all their contributions and roll-overs.
It is usually the case that people will leave enough money in their APRA-regulated fund account to cover the cost of insurance premiums. Where required they may rollover funds from their SMSF to their APRA-regulated fund or make a contribution to pay for insurance premiums and administration fees to keep their insurance policy.
Under the new legislation, you now may lose your insurance cover if your APRA-regulated fund is considered inactive because it has not received a contribution or a rollover for a continuous period of 16 months.
At 1 July 2019, if your APRA-regulated fund is considered inactive for 16 months your insurance will be terminated.
APRA-regulated funds had until 1 April to identify members who have been continuously inactive for six months or more and then they had until 1 May to inform those inactive members that their insurance will soon be switched off unless they elect to retain it.
We are concerned that insurance will be unknowingly closed for these accounts because members have not checked their correspondence, especially for those who rely on this insurance held separately.
This could have a devastating impact on policy holders or their beneficiaries if their insurance cover was unknowingly terminated. Furthermore, it may be extremely difficulty or costly to try and access insurance at a later stage of life.
So what can you do?
It is important that if you wish to maintain your insurance cover that you consider taking advice, depending on your circumstances, about the following possible steps as soon as possible. This includes either:
- Providing a direction to your APRA-regulated fund that you wish to ‘opt-in’ for your insurance cover to be maintained.
- Making a contribution or rollover to your ‘inactive’ APRA-regulated fund so that the period for which your fund starts to be inactive is reset. However, it stressed that you also ‘opt-in’.
As always with superannuation do not treat the above as advice. You will need to take into account your personal circumstances and take advice from the relevant licenced person before making a decision.