Let’s take a look at these two product types individually and explore some of the key differences between them. We’ll start with life insurance.
What is life insurance?
Life insurance is a type of policy designed to financially protect the loved ones of an individual in the event that the individual passes away. In some cases, it might also apply if the insured person is diagnosed with a terminal illness and has a limited life expectancy.
In the event of a person’s death, and depending on the level of cover in place, a payout arising from a successful life insurance claim could be used as a way of meeting home loan repayments or to pay off the loan entirely. However, unlike a mortgage protection policy (as we’ll discuss below), most life insurance policies are not directly linked to a home loan.
How much does life insurance cost?
The cost of a life insurance policy is likely to depend on a number of factors specific to the person being insured. These can include:
- Smoking status
- The amount of insurance required (e.g. whether the individual would need cover to pay off their mortgage)
- Occupation and hobbies
- Health and medical history
- Features and inclusions offered by the policy
- The provider you choose (it could be worth comparing multiple insurance providers)
How do I get life insurance?
Life insurance is generally not offered as part of the process of getting a home loan in the same way that mortgage protection cover sometimes can be. That said, some lenders also offer life insurance or sell it on behalf of another insurer, in which case you may be offered life insurance at the time you take out your home loan.
Life insurance policies can also be bought separately from a direct life insurance provider, or via a financial adviser.
If you’re comparing life insurance policies, the comparison table below displays some of the policies currently available on Canstar’s database for a 30-39 year old non-smoking male working in a professional occupation. Please note the table is sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest) followed by provider name (alphabetical) and features links direct to the provider’s website. Use Canstar’s life insurance comparison selector to view a wider range of policies.
What is mortgage protection insurance?
Mortgage protection insurance (sometimes called mortgage repayment insurance) is a type of policy specifically designed to cover home owners and their families from the financial impacts of some risks that could affect their ability to pay back their home loan. It’s an optional type of insurance and typically covers things like:
- Involuntary job loss
- Injury or illness
For example, if you’re unable to work for a period, a mortgage protection insurance policy may kick in and cover your repayments while you are not earning. If you pass away, it may pay out the balance of your home loan – or provide a specific lump sum stated in the policy – to help repay the outstanding debt.
Because it covers the policyholder if they are unable to work, and in the event that they pass away, mortgage protection insurance is in some respects like a combination of income protection insurance and life insurance, albeit with coverage amounts linked to home loan costs specifically. And as we’ll see below, there are other distinctions between mortgage protection insurance, income protection and life insurance.
How much does mortgage protection insurance cost?
As with many kinds of insurance, the cost of a mortgage protection insurance policy is likely to depend largely on the policyholder’s circumstances and the item being insured – in this case a home loan. But generally speaking, the cost might also be affected by considerations like:
- The total home loan amount
- The regular home loan repayment amount
- Whether the policy is in a single person’s name or covers multiple people (multi-policyholder discounts might apply)
- The age of the policyholder(s)
- The type of policy and any features included or excluded
- The insurance provider (again, it may be beneficial to shop around)
Because the cover provided is typically limited to expenses relating to repaying a home loan, in some cases mortgage protection insurance can be a less expensive option than a life insurance policy. This may not always be the case, though, and you should consider also looking at the level of cover that applies and other relevant factors before committing to a particular type of insurance cover.
Factors to consider with mortgage protection insurance policies
- There may be an upper limit on the amount that can be claimed on a policy (i.e. it may not cover the entire loan amount).
- Waiting periods may apply, meaning the policyholder might not be able to make a claim or receive benefits within a certain amount of time of the policy being taken out or a claim being made.
- This kind of policy only provides cover for mortgage expenses and would not cover the policyholder for other expenses that might need to be covered if they become unable to work or if they pass away.
- It’s not the same as lender’s mortgage insurance.
How do I get mortgage protection insurance?
This kind of policy is often sold to homeowners by the lender when they take out their mortgage. Some lenders may offer their own mortgage protection insurance policies, but it’s also commonly sold by lenders on behalf of a separate insurer.
Consider reading the product disclosure statement carefully and checking with the provider about any exclusions, waiting periods or other terms and conditions that might apply before proceeding with a policy.
Key differences between mortgage protection insurance and life insurance
Here’s a summary of some of the key differences that can typically be found between the two types of insurance:
|Mortgage protection insurance||Life insurance|
|Designed to cover||An individual’s home loan repayments in certain circumstances, such as if they lose their job, are unable to work or pass away.||An individual’s family or loved ones in the event that the policyholder passes away or is diagnosed with a terminal illness.|
|Cost of policy depends on
|Factors including the total home loan and regular repayment amount, plus risks associated with the policyholder (like age, profession, smoking status).||Factors including the value of the policy, plus the policyholder’s risk factors (like age, profession, smoking status).|
|Benefit payment||A regular payment to cover home loan repayments, or a lump sum if the policyholder passes away.||Usually a lump sum.|
|Payable when||Following a successful claim, for example when the policyholder is no longer able to work or passes away.||Following a successful claim when the policyholder passes away or, for some policies, is diagnosed with a terminal illness.|
Are there other insurance options for homeowners?
Income protection insurance
This kind of policy can help cover costs like an individual’s mortgage repayments if they are unable to work, by providing an income stream that replaces part of the policyholder’s regular income.
It can cover individuals for a portion of their lost income (typically up to 75% of gross wages for a set period) due to the following types of events:
- Involuntary job loss
- Sickness or injury
- Total or partial disablement (a lump sum amount may be paid out in these cases)
Like life insurance, income protection policies are not exclusively designed to cover home loan repayments. Instead, this type of insurance is related to the individual’s lost income and payouts may also be used to cover other expenses.
In addition, because some income protection policies have a limited maximum time period during which a benefit will be paid, it may not be a suitable option if you want cover that would pay off the entire balance of a home loan.
Income protection policies typically vary in cost depending on the insured individual’s occupation, as well as risk factors like their age and smoking status. The kind of policy (its benefits and inclusions) and the provider offering it may also impact on the cost.
Like life insurance, income protection policies can typically be taken out either direct from an insurer or via a financial adviser.
Home and contents insurance
These policies are designed to cover a physical property and its contents from some forms of damage and burglary. They can typically be taken out separately (as standalone building only or contents-only policies) or as a combined building and contents policy.
Unlike the other types of insurance policies mentioned above, a home and contents insurance policy won’t cover you if you are unable to make your home loan repayments, but it could be an option worth considering if you are keen to protect yourself from the financial costs associated with certain types of loss or damage to your home or the possessions in it.