Covid-19/Coronavirus - Everything you need to know
Coronavirus is dominating news headlines at the moment and there’s a lot of speculation about what might come next.
If you’ve been wondering what sort of insurance cover you have for the virus, or how the volatility on financial markets might affect your MAS KiwiSaver or Retirement Savings Plan, here’s what you need to know.
Things are changing rapidly at the moment but we are here to support you, now more than ever. We want you to know that MAS will do whatever we can to support the mental, physical, emotional and financial wellbeing and resilience of our Members.
We're focusing on four main areas:
- Financial support for Members
➜ Options to defer or waive premiums for those facing financial hardship Click here to learn more.
➜ Passing back the savings we make on motor vehicle claims because of the lockdown to members with motor vehicle insurance.
- Adapting some insurance policy cover and benefits to account for lockdown conditions. Click here to learn more
- Free access for Members and their families to the online MAS Wellbeing Portal.
- Free, independent counselling services for Members and their families.
If you would like to discuss any of your policies or investments, you can book an appointment with one of our advisers. They can meet via Skype, Microsoft Teams, or simply by phone, at a time that best suits you. If you want to organise an online or phone conversation with a MAS adviser, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you're in financial difficulty, we can work something out
If you’re in financial hardship and you’ve exhausted options like the government subsidy or those provided by your bank, please talk to us. Our goal is to help you retain your insurance cover wherever possible.
If you have short-term cashflow problems, we can look at deferring your premiums for a certain period. If the problem is more serious, we can also look at waiving your premiums for up to three months thanks to the $2m Hardship Fund we've set up, which will effectively pay your premiums for you.
We have a team dedicated to helping you look at all your options so if you need some extra help, please contact us at email@example.com.
We're adjusting our insurance policies and processes to reflect the current situation
We’re aware that our insurance policies may not always respond perfectly in an Alert Level 4 lockdown environment.
To make sure our policies and processes reflect this new reality, we’re adapting our criteria for paying claims, and we’ll be flexible on the expiry of benefits during the claim period where appropriate.
For example, we can extend hire car usage periods for those with a motor vehicle claim already in progress; we can extend Contract Works expiry dates; and we understand if you’re not able to inspect your rental property or holiday home during lockdown.
If you have any concerns about your policy, or questions about making a claim, please get in touch with us.
Our life insurance, trauma, and total and permanent disablement policies do not treat coronavirus any differently from any other infectious disease. If you have one of our policies, you’re covered.
It’s not a pleasant thought but if you were to die as a result of coronavirus, your life insurance policy would pay out, as it would for death caused by any other infectious disease.
Similarly, our Professional Life Plan Recovery Insurance policy, which provides cover for Chronic Lung Failure and a number of other organ failures, would pay if all the other definitions of cover were met. We do not have any policy exclusions for coronavirus or other infectious diseases in our life, trauma, and total and permanent disablement policies.
We don’t have any current plans to impose any additional conditions relating to the pandemic for new policies. However, we’re continuing to monitor the outbreak and it’s possible we may need to introduce exclusions for new policies in the future.
Claiming under your Income Protection policy if you get COVID-19?
As with our life insurance policies, if you were to fall sick with coronavirus and are unable to work, you would be able to claim under our income protection policies, assuming you meet the other policy terms (for example, waiting periods and occupation definitions).
However, you won't be able to claim if you are not working solely because of the official lockdown period. This is because income protection only protects you if you are unable to work because of sickness or injury. For most people during the lockdown, they are at home because of the Government's instructions, not because they are sick.
If you are working less than 20-hours per week
Your Income Security policy requires you to work, or be available to work, at least 20 hours per week. If you are currently meeting this threshold, and you continue to meet all other eligibility criteria under your policy, you remain fully covered.
Some of our Members may have been working fewer than 20 hours per week over the past few months because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. If the reduction in hours is due to these extraordinary circumstances, and you continue to meet all other eligibility criteria under your policy, we will continue to provide Income Security cover for you until 25 June 2020.
If it's likely you will continue to work fewer than 20 hours per week after 25 June 2020, or you reduce your work hours or availability to fewer than 20 hours per week, please contact us on 0800 800 627 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss options for continuing or suspending your cover.
New Income Security cover policies
Some restrictions temporarily apply to the amount and type of cover we can offer Members. Your MAS Adviser will advise you of these and work with you to implement a solution which best meets your needs.
If you have a business risk policy that includes Business Interruption cover and your business is interrupted because of coronavirus, you will not be able to claim under your policy. This is because there is a standard policy exclusion in the Business Interruption policy that excludes cover for infectious or contagious diseases (p. 11 of your policy).
My staff have taken work equipment home with them so they can keep working. Is this equipment still covered by my contents policy?
Yes, this equipment is still covered by your Business Risk contents policy. Different types of equipment are treated in slightly different ways, which you can read about here.
If you’re a business owner and want to know about your obligations towards your staff and what government support you might be eligible to receive, we've put together some general advice.
The pandemic does not affect these types of insurance in any way. If you have one of these policies with us, you’re still covered. We are still processing claims normally but there may be delays in getting repairs carried out.
Because of the lockdown, we've seen a decline in motor vehicle claims. We will be passing back the savings we've made on claim payouts to Members with motor vehicle insurance. We will assess the exact savings we will pass on to Members once we return to business as usual.
You don't need to do anything to take advantage of this support. We will be in touch with you in due course to let you know how much the support will be and how you will receive it.
It's important to retain your motor vehicle insurance, since it covers you for theft, weather damage as well as the chance of an accident on the way to the supermarket for essential supplies.
Find out more here.
If you belong to our KiwiSaver or Retirement Savings Plans, the main message is to take a long-term view rather than react to current market volatility. As with similar viruses in recent years, there is likely to be some short-term volatility in financial markets but the virus should have little effect on long-term returns.
As our investment manager, JBWere continually monitors financial markets, and is maintaining a close watch on the reaction of the markets to coronavirus. Given the current uncertainty, they are taking a more conservative investment strategy for our Funds. You can read their full report on the implications of coronavirus for their investment strategy here.
The current situation is a good reminder to make sure you’re in the right Fund for your stage of life and risk appetite. You can check the risk profile for our various Funds here.
We don't expect coronavirus to cause any significant delays in processing your claims. We've set up our people so they can work from home, so you'll still receive great service from MAS.
Assessing the extent of the damage will be done remotely
Occasionally, we may need to appoint a loss adjuster to help assess the extent of the damage to your property. Under the current COVID-19 restrictions, they will not attend in person but will contact you by phone and may ask you to provide photos of the damage. You can provide these photos yourself or you can provide them with remote camera access. They will explain how this works when they get in touch.
There may be delays in organising repairs
COVID-19 is disrupting the supply of parts coming into New Zealand and various New Zealand-based suppliers have been required to close by the Government. We will do our best to let you know about the likely timeframes for your repairs as we process your claim.
Most of our loans are provided in partnership with Westpac, who have put up some useful information about the support they can offer on their website here.
This website includes information about financial support they can offer customers with personal and business loans.
If you have more specific questions about your loan, it's a good idea to speak to an adviser in the first instance. You can arrange an online or phone appointment at a time that suits you.
The newly established MAS Foundation has made ten grants for COVID-related relief and recovery initiatives around the country. These grants are helping communities where needs are greatest, yet their wellbeing is persistently compromised.
Find out more about the organisations and initiatives the Foundation is supporting here.
3 March 2020 - The spread of coronavirus - or Covid-19 - has been the focus of media attention for several weeks. As well as the global health implications, there is increasing speculation about the impact of the virus on financial markets.
3 February 2020 - MAS has now moved to a risk-based pricing model, which means taking into greater account of the particular risks faced by houses in different regions around the country when it comes to setting premiums.