There are two kinds of life insurance: direct life insurance and advised life insurance.
Advised life insurance is the less common of the two; Canstar currently rates 12 advised life providers compared to 30 for direct life. But what exactly is advised life insurance?
Advised life insurance is life insurance that you obtain through the use of a specialised financial adviser. Some people prefer advised life insurance because it removes a lot of the confusion when it comes to choosing a policy; getting professional advice helps narrow your options to find a policy that properly suits your specific requirements. Getting advice on an insurance policy can also eliminate the risk of being underinsured or paying more than you should in premiums.
Advisers will typically take you through your insurance needs in person and will ask about your budget, personal information, living situation, information on your family and more. To save time, you can also speak to an adviser over the phone.
According to the Association of Financial Advisers (AFA)’s CEO Brad Fox, insurance policies taken out through an adviser “pay out more claims, have better contract definitions and fewer complaints than the alternative channels of group and direct life insurance.”
What does advised life insurance cost?
Overall, advised life insurance premiums have remained relatively stagnant over the past six years. The cost of each advised life insurance policy is different, and will depend on the following things:
- Your current health and medical history
- Your occupation
- Your hobbies
- Whether you’re a smoker or non-smoker
- Your gender and age
Historically, Canstar has found in our Star Ratings Research that premiums have been cheaper for advised insurance policies for blue-collar employees. The table below shows the cost of both advised and direct income protection insurance for 27-year-old non-smoking males and females in 2016.
Average monthly cost ($)
for $3,125 monthly cover
for 27-yo Male
Average monthly cost ($)
for $3,125 monthly cover
for 27-yo Female
Source: Canstar. Based on products assessed by Canstar for Direct and Advised Income Protection Star Ratings 2016.
Advised life insurance vs direct life insurance
Direct life insurance is both similar and different to advised life. It is similar in that you need to provide the same information when applying for a policy, but the method of applying can be very different. Most direct life insurance policies have no involvement with financial planners; you buy the insurance directly from insurance companies or financial institutions.
One exception to this rule in the current market is NobleOak, which offers fully underwritten, tailored life insurance directly to consumers without the use of a direct reseller or financial advisor – a sort of ‘hybrid’ between the two. This is not common, however, and in most cases you’ll have to make a choice between one or the other.
In most cases direct life insurance it is very much ‘off the shelf’ insurance, as it is easier to apply for, requires less medical information and applications can be completed in minutes from the comfort of your own home. It has made life insurance much more accessible for everyday Australians as a result.
In terms of price, there is no real advantage or disadvantage to using advised life insurance over direct life insurance, although NobleOak state that its method results in premiums that are 20% lower on average than other major insurers when purchased through an advisor or directly through that insurer. Advised life insurance tends to be cheaper for blue-collar jobs like accountants and retail staff, but is often more expensive for more specialised roles like nurses and engineers. This is not always the case, however, and it will really come down to the information you provide in your application.
See the comparison table below that features direct life insurance policies available for a 30-39 year old non-smoking male who works in a professional occupation. This table has been sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest) then by provider name (A-Z) and features links direct to the providers website.
According to AFA president Marc Bineham, direct life insurance has “inherent weaknesses” that advised policies do not.
“By seeing a financial adviser, people have the benefit of receiving an adviser’s expert advice on their specific life insurance needs,” he said.
“Life insurance advisers provide greater certainty to their clients in two ways. Firstly, advised retail life insurance is underwritten at application time, rather than at claims time as is often the case with the other forms of life insurance. And secondly, financial advisers manage their clients’ claims.”
However, this won’t be too much of a problem if you familiarise yourself with the necessities of life insurance. If you’re aware of the common exclusions, definitions of pre-existing medical conditions and what is and isn’t covered by different policies, then you can save yourself plenty of time by applying for direct life insurance.
To help you determine what type of life insurance policy is best for you, you can read up on and compare both of them using the Canstar website.
Pros and cons of advised and direct life insurance
To summarise the key advantages and disadvantages of advised and direct life insurance, consult the table below.
|Pros and cons of advised and direct life insurance|
|Advised life insurance||Direct life insurance|
The main benefit of direct life insurance is ease of access and convenience, whereas advised life insurance gives you a more tailored product, with little extra cost. This is the trade-off that you’ll have to make when deciding what type of insurance policy to use.