Mortgage Protection Insurance is a term used to encompass various different types of cover designed to protect borrowers from events which could severely impact upon their ability to maintain mortgage payments. There are different variations but when connected to a mortgage they are all there to provide peace of mind and usually fall into the following categories:
As a rule, if the policyholder dies within the term, then the sum assured should be enough to pay off the outstanding mortgage balance and ensure the borrower’s dependants aren’t left with a debt they might not otherwise be able to manage. Our advisors are able to run through all the different types of life cover and recommend the most suitable plan for you.
There’s an argument that says that life cover is taken for the benefit of other people – i.e. your dependents – because sadly you won’t be around to see any benefit yourself. However, these days, thanks to improvements in the sort of medical treatment available, many people now survive conditions which once might have been fatal. Nevertheless, whilst undergoing what may be lengthy spells of treatment and recovery, it could have a marked effect on your ability to meet your financial commitments. This has led to the development of Critical Illness Insurance.
Critical Illness Insurance works in a similar way to Life Assurance, in that it is usually taken for a specific term of years and can have different options such as level/increasing etc. It is designed to pay out a lump sum and, like Life cover, for borrowers, it is typically taken on a decreasing term basis in line with the reduction of your mortgage balance. The key is that the benefit is paid if you fall victim to one of a number of specified critical illnesses, and pays out whatever the long term prognosis of that illness. The type of illnesses covered vary from company to company, that’s what this type of insurance cannot be solely price driven and advice is recommended.
In practice many companies will offer Life and Critical Illness Critical cover as a combined policy and would usually pay out on the “first event” i.e. whatever happens first – either death or serious illness – the pay-out is made. They can also be written on a single or joint life basis
Whereas Life and Critical Illness cover pay out a lump sum, “Income Protection” pays out a monthly sum designed to replace your wages in the event of you being unfit to work. Unlike Critical Illness cover, there are no restrictions on the illnesses or injuries covered, the only factor being whether they make you unfit to work. There are however restrictions on how much you can cover and how quickly benefits would start to be paid.
Like Life and Critical Illness cover, these policies are underwritten based on your health and lifestyle at the time you apply. All income protection policies are written on a single life basis.
Similar in many ways to Income Protection these policies also cover you should you be made unemployed. Benefits are usually linked to your mortgage and other costs (rather than necessarily your wages) and would usually be paid one month “in arrears” after a successful claim. These policies are only underwritten at the time of a claim rather than at the outset, which can sometimes mean there can be some confusion/delay as to whether a claim would actually be met. They are clearly a useful safety net if you are made long-term unemployed but be sure to check the details of how/when any unemployment benefits would be paid out, as it may be that you would have returned to work before any monies become due.
Probably the least common of the “mortgage protection” type policies but can often be valuable – particularly for those with young families. These plans can be taken to cover Life and/or Critical Illness and are underwritten on an application in the same way as mentioned above. However, unlike the traditional forms of policy, rather than pay out a lump sum, the cover would pay an annual or monthly income for the remainder of the term of the plan. Thus it can replace the income of the main breadwinner for a number of years, dependent upon a particular client’s circumstances and, because of this would usually be written on a level or basis, or an index-linked basis designed to keep up with inflation.
There’s an old adage that says you can never have too much insurance. Certainly, many people have one or more of the different types of policy and it would be wrong to think of Mortgage Protection Insurance as just an “either/or” choice. However, in the real world, affordability plays a massive part, so whilst it would be fantastic to cover yourself for every potential opportunity, a good advisor will sit down with you and tailor the type of cover to be the most suitable combination to your family’s priority and budget.
If you do take more than one type of policy, however, your advisor would usually place all the cover with one provider. This is to save you the additional policy administration charges which individual policies carry but which are reduced when bringing all the policies under one plan.