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In this podcast, Dan Toombs talks with Beilby Poulden Costello Partner and Accredited Personal Injury Law Specialist, Mark Nelson on what you need to know about bringing a superannuation claim in New South Wales.


Mark, is there such a thing as a superannuation claim?

Thanks, and there certainly is. The key for most people is becoming aware of their potential entitlements under their superannuation plan. Most people have coverage for insurance events that they’re not actually aware of.

Mark, at what point do they make a claim to their superannuation company?

Superannuation claims can be of a couple of different types. The first is for income protection. If people have that particular type of coverage under a policy that they’ve elected to pay for or that an employer has provided for them. The other type, which can also be very significant, is a TPD claim or a claim for what is called total and permanent disablement. And the definitions for qualification for payment vary from policy to policy.

Mark, is it only to do with workers compensation? Does it also relate to other accidents, be it, you know, motor vehicle accidents or public liability accidents?

The TPD and income protection types of claim can be made in relation to any incapacitating event that someone has unfortunately been affected by. So whereas with, for example, worker’s compensation rights arise solely by virtue of the injuries that have occurred during the course of employment or in certain restricted cases, journeys to and from work, these superannuation and life insurance claims can be preferable to any sickness or illness or traumatic event or combination of those events that unfortunately put them in a position where they’re unable to work.

Mark, we know that in compensation claims, generally proving liability is a key factor. But when it comes to a superannuation claim, are superannuation companies interested in who is at fault?

They’re certainly interested in liability, but the considerations for liability is seen through a different lens to workers compensation claims or personal injury. Claims from motor vehicle accidents. Typically, the claim is initiated by requesting the superannuation fund for member’s benefit statement to ascertain what the coverage is and the definition for payment and certain events and some fairly standardised claim forms are sent out by the trustee for the superannuation fund. In the case of a TPD claim or a life insurer. In the case of an income protection claim, the forms require only a fairly brief dissertation of what someone’s problems are.

And it’s usually prudent to see a lawyer not only to get advice about what qualifies for a claim to be made successfully and what circumstances give rise to a successful claim but also to fill out the claim forms accurately and provide particulars that are relevant to the trigger definition for payment that are not necessarily expressly asked by the insurer at the outset. Adopting that approach can actually make the process more efficient and lessen the to and fro that can otherwise ensue between insurers, solicitors and individuals over a period of months.

Mark, practically speaking, do you run these types of matters concurrently with a workers’ compensation or motor vehicle claim? Do they do they run in parallel? Do you finish one and then pick up the next one?

Most lawyers will say that there has to be a horses for courses approach. Everyone’s circumstances vary and an individual in general terms. There are some advantages to stepping or timing the different claims in terms of workers compensation claims and other statutory personal injury claims, such as claims arising from motor accidents. There are time limits that really prevent people from delaying taking action, and it’s very rarely in someone’s interests that there be any delay associated with finalising those claims. Sometimes the claims are finalized because of medical investigations that need to be undertaken or outcomes from surgery, for example, that need to be understood and ascertained with the life insurance.

And TPD claims the time limits run in a very different fashion.

And in many cases, there is effectively no time limit. And it can be advantageous to simply bring the worker’s compensation claim or motor accident claim to a person’s best advantage in accordance with the evidence dealing with their case. Have that out of the way and then deal with the superannuation claim for income protection claims. The nature of those is such that there is no advantage in delaying. And of course, the purpose of the claim is to cover someone during the very early stages and beyond when they would otherwise be deprived of income.

They can be a lot of interplay between income protection claims in particular and worker’s compensation claims in terms of offset provisions that income protection policies have so that people are not effectively double scooping whilst receiving worker’s compensation at the same time, or double-dipping as they may say.

Mark, now with TPD or compensation claims generally that they can actually garner a sizeable amount of compensation out of that particular fund, can’t they?

You’re absolutely right. Some people are surprised they have any coverage whatsoever.  Many of the policies for TPD coverage are expressed as a multiplier of what the superannuation balance is, particularly for younger people. And many people are surprised to learn that the TPV insured lump sum, which can be for hundreds of thousands of dollars and beyond, is able to be claimed without exhausting the residual superannuation balance that a person would expect to be able to access upon retirement.

Mark now at Beilby Poulden Costello, you offer a free initial, no-obligation consultation?

Absolutely we do. Yes. So it’s prudent for people to get legal advice on this stuff, isn’t it?

Well, it just is. It’s a bit of a minefield for people to navigate through. And once again, with TPD claims superannuation claims, income protection claims, using a lawyer is to a person’s great advantage and trying to take on. Massive insurance company with their internal lawyers and claims managers is really putting one of life’s more important decisions. In a context that’s disadvantageous to do it without lawyers and without the assistance of people like ourselves who deal with the insurers day in, day out and have done so over the years, it is really an exercise that we just couldn’t recommend to people.