Financial support for Members
We will do whatever we can to support the mental, physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing and resilience of our Members.
If you are in financial difficulties and have premiums coming due, please let us know. We have a Relief Fund to cover these situations and can discuss premium deferrals or relief.
Our online Health and Wellbeing portal is free for Members and their families. All you need to register or login is your Member number, which you can find at the bottom of any emails you have received from us.
The portal contains resources to help Members with their financial, mental, and physical wellbeing. We have also updated the portal with information specifically designed to help deal with the pressures of COVID.
In addition to the portal, we offer three free counselling sessions for all Members. These sessions are offered by EAP Services, an independent counselling service. To take advantage of this offer, all you need to do is let EAP Services know you are a MAS Member. We are not told which of our Members has used the service, to ensure it is completely confidential.
How does Covid-19 affect your insurance
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.
Our life insurance, trauma, and total and permanent disablement policies do not treat Covid-19 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 the virus, 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 Covid-19 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 the virus 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 have a business risk policy that includes Business Interruption cover and your business is interrupted because of Covid-19, 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).
Employees working from home – what business contents are covered under our business risks policy?
You’re covered for non-portable contents that have been temporarily moved to another location within New Zealand, as long as you’re intending to return the contents to the risk location.
“Non-portable contents” covers things like desks, chairs, computer monitors, or monitor arms that you wouldn’t normally move. Cover for these items will be limited by the contents sum insured listed in your policy schedule.
We will also cover you for accidental loss to portable contents while carried away from the risk location to anywhere in New Zealand, Australia or the South Pacific.
“Portable contents” include laptops, tablets, mobile phones and other items that are often carried around with you. Cover for portable items is automatically set at $10,000. If you need to increase this amount, you should speak to one of our Member support centre, who will adjust the sum insured and list the item on the policy schedule. We will charge an additional premium for covering these items.
Are my contents covered while they’re in transit?
While New Zealand is dealing with COVID-19, we will cover items being carried by employees to their homes, including non-portable items.
This cover only applies to items being moved for an employee’s use. If you’re moving other items, such as transporting a large amount of contents or stock or you’re putting items into storage, then you will need to contact us about a Goods in Transit/storage policy.
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.
While the pandemic does not affect your cover, it will affect how quickly we can organise repairs for you. Supply chains bringing parts into New Zealand are being disrupted and many repairers won’t be operating at the moment.
There are some exceptions if your repairs are essential in some way – usually if they affect your health or safety – or you’re an essential worker and you need them to be done to carry out your work.
Our Claims team will be able to let you know what’s likely to happen if and when you submit a claim.
Even if you’re not driving your car at the moment, you should keep your cover in place
Your car insurance covers you for theft or damage while it’s parked in your garage, driveway or on the roadside, as well as during occasional trips to the supermarket.
In fact, many of the claims we receive under motor vehicle policies have nothing to do with accidents and are related to vehicle theft or damage that is caused by another party or by weather events such as hail-storms.
You should keep your contents insurance in place, even if you’re in lockdown at home
As well as covering you for burglaries, your contents insurance also covers you for damage to your belongings from fire, floods or accidental damage.
Even if you’re at home most of the time, your contents can still be damaged. In fact, the risks of accidental damage may increase given how much more time you’re spending at home.
Another important reason to retain your contents policy is the temporary accommodation benefit that comes with MAS contents policies.
This benefit covers the reasonable costs for you and your family (and pets) for alternative accommodation, including moving your property to and from the accommodation, should your house become uninhabitable due to a loss covered by the policy. This benefit also applies if you’re a renter.
What are my obligations as an employer during this pandemic?
If you’re a business owner, we’ve put together some more general advice about your obligations.
Covid-19 Employer obligations
For updates from:
- Ministry of Health guidelines for health and disability services
- Unite Against Covid 19 alert levels
- Worksafe NZ guidelines for others
- Covid 19 vaccination and employment
- Assessing whether a specific role need to be performed by a vaccinated worker
- Q & As about Covid-19 vaccination for employers
Other useful links include
- Ministry of Health website
- Employment NZ website
- Financial support for businesses
- Small business loan scheme
- Covid-19 August 2021 Wage Subsidy
- Work and Income employer support
- Covid-19 short term absence payment
- Covid 19 - leave support
- Resources to assist managers when staff are suffering mental health issues
The basic employer/employee obligations of good faith and being fair and reasonable are still the cornerstone of interactions.
Protecting your staff
Take all necessary steps to minimise the risk of your staff contracting the illness. For example:
- Follow guidance from the Ministry of Health.
- Be aware of your obligations under Health & Safety legislation
- Provide staff with regular updates about the Covid-19 situation and keep them fully informed of required procedures.
- Consider installing protective barriers in the reception area.
- Use personal protective equipment as guided by health authorities.
- Have plans in place should staff present with flu-like symptoms.
Employer obligations and responsibilities:
- Use of sick leave – sick leave is entitled to be used if the employee is sick or a spouse or dependent is sick
- If the employee is off work because of risk of the coronavirus, but doesn’t have the virus? – These employees may be covered by Covid-19 leave support (see link above). Generally, the employee isn’t entitled to paid sick leave if there is no actual illness or injury (unless the employment agreement is more generous). Employers may agree to the use of sick leave and record it in writing, text or email if they agree.
Even if the employee is not on paid sick leave, they may be entitled to be paid during their absence, depending on the scenario below:
Do employers need to pay employees who they require to stay away?
Yes, when the employer makes the decision that an employee cannot come to work, then in general terms the employee is entitled to be paid as long as they are ready, willing and able to come to work. Many employment agreements (including the HealthyPractice templates) include a ‘Force majeure’ clause which releases a party from its contractual obligations to pay an employee or provide them with work during extraordinary events. We would expect the threshold for invoking such a clause to be high, and you should seek advice before doing so.
If your employee is compulsorily quarantined?
The employee is not then ready, willing and able to work, this employee may be covered by Covid-19 leave support (see link above) or short-term absence payment. You could look at options and the feasibility of working from home. The employer and employee may also agree to the use of sick leave or annual leave.
If your employee is voluntarily staying away from work
If your employee thinks they may have been in contact with Covid-19 and wants to stay away from work because they do not want to risk infecting others. This employee may be covered by Covid-19 leave support (see link above) or short term absence payment if they are waiting for Covid-19 swab results. Otherwise, there may be no obligation to pay the employee, but if there is no agreement to pay the employee, the employee may feel the need to attend work after all. In this situation employers should have a clear understanding of the risk of the person attending work and consider the obligations to the rest of the staff who may be impacted.
If your employee needs to stay at home to look after a child?
If the dependent is at home because they are at higher risk then the Covid-19 leave support subsidy may apply (see link above). If the child is sick, then your employee is entitled to use paid sick leave, until that runs out. But if the child is well and staying home because of school closures, the employer would not be obliged to pay the employee who needs to stay at home to look after them. Of course, the employer and employee can agree to different arrangements.
Can an employee refuse to attend work?
Under the Health & Safety at Work Act an employee can refuse to attend work if they have reasonable grounds to believe they could suffer serious harm, therefore if there is a reasonable fear of contracting Covid-19 at work, they may have a right to refuse to attend.
This decision should be made after discussion between the parties, and other solutions should be considered e.g. working from home. Employment NZ provides guidelines. If an employee refuses to attend work, unless the employer is at fault in some way, there is probably no obligation to pay the employee.
In Summary, employers should be:
- Proactively considering all the issues and scenarios
- Keeping up to date with information from trusted sources
- Communicating with suppliers
- Reviewing obligations under HSAW Act
- Developing policies that deal with all the questions but are flexible enough to deal with different scenarios and give guidance to both employers and employees
- Keeping open communication – also bear in mind H & S obligations alongside the good faith obligations
- Documenting all agreements that they make with employees
- Reviewing practice security.
10 August 2021 - MAS invites our Members to join us at the MAS Members' Trust Annual General Meeting (AGM).
14 July 2021 - Financial markets were volatile as investors’ assessment of future inflation and therefore the risk of higher official cash rates changed frequently in response to new data.