If you are injured don't forget to check whether you have
death or disability cover as part of your superannuation
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
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
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
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
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Treasurer Scott Morrison recently announced changes to a number of 2016 Budget superannuation contribution measures.
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