COVID-19 information for our customers

1 April, 2020

 

Experiencing financial difficulties as a result of Coronavirus (COVID-19) – how do I keep my cover in place?

We are here to support you with options. So if you have a problem in keeping up payments, please contact us to see how we can help you through this emergency.

 

How does COVID-19 impact my ability to claim under my existing policy?

Life Cover

There are no changes to terms and conditions arising from COVID-19. In the unfortunate event that a policyholder should die as a result of COVID-19 or an associated illness, the life cover will pay out as normal.

Specified Illness

This cover provides a lump sum cash payment if you’re diagnosed with one of the specified illnesses listed when the plan started.

COVID-19 is not one of these specified illnesses. However, you may be eligible to claim for a condition arising from COVID-19 if that condition is one of the specified illnesses listed under your plan and according to the plan’s other normal terms and conditions.

Income Protection

This type of cover pays a regular income if you are unable to work due to illness or injury after a specific time period or ‘deferred period’ as selected on your plan.

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 and meet the claim definition for illness/injury after the deferred period has elapsed, you will be able to submit a claim for assessment as normal.

Please note that income protection cover is a replacement of some income due to a medical inability to work, such as due to illness or injury – it does not cover unemployment or redundancy.

 

Can I take a break from making payments?

Pension or Savings plan

You can take a payment holiday on your plan for a length of time you specify. Some of these plans have bonuses attaching – we will continue to pay these if less than 13 months’ payments have been missed.

Unit-Linked Life Cover plans

You can take a payment holiday on your plan for up to 13 months. However, this may impact the length of time your policy can maintain the life cover benefit.

 

COVID-19 and my savings/ investments – what should I do?

It is clearly a worrying time with headlines noting uncertainty in investment markets and significant price volatility. However, it is important to remember that investments in market-based funds are designed to provide better returns over a medium to long term time horizon with volatility in prices a feature of all funds during the investment term.

Ark Life can provide you with information regarding your savings / investment policy(s). We would always recommend that customers talk to their financial advisor before making any decisions about their savings/investments.

Why has my policy dropped in value?

A lot of policies are invested in stocks and shares which are sensitive to events that create uncertainty – such as the coronavirus outbreak. These offer good potential for long term growth, but can rise and fall in value too. Very few policies have guaranteed returns, so if your policy is invested in stocks and shares then at times like this your policy value may fall.

Funds invested in stock market type investments are designed to be held for the medium to long term to help ride-out volatile periods like the one we’re experiencing now.

Should I cash in my savings / investment policy?

Some things for you to consider:

When markets are volatile, people may be tempted to withdraw their money to protect it. This can lead to the investment being sold at loss and you might miss out on any increases in value in the future if markets recover.

If you need money in the short to medium term and have savings that could be used instead, you might want to consider taking some money from those alternative sources, if that still leaves money in rainy day funds, rather than to realise losses from the investment.

The Government has announced a range of measures to offer support to people during the pandemic. You may wish to investigate whether you are eligible for this support before withdrawing money from your investments.

If the product includes life cover, you should consider the implications of cancelling it, or stopping ongoing premiums, in light of the current additional health risks. Some policies have valuable features that will be lost if you take your money early. This could include guaranteed returns on your investment or cover that will protect you or your family if the worst were to happen. It’s also worth considering whether you need to take your money from your policy right now. By taking your money from your policy now you’ll lose the ability to benefit from any recovery in the stock markets that may happen over the longer term.

Should I switch funds?

The value of many investments has fallen significantly over the last few weeks and there may be further falls as Coronavirus continues to have an effect on the economy. When markets fall like this, people may be tempted to switch their money into lower risk funds to protect it. This can lead to the investment being sold at loss that might have been avoided if the investment were held for the long term.

If you sell when the market is down, you will likely suffer a loss in the value of your investments and might miss out on any increases in value in the future if markets recover.

Ark Life can’t tell you what funds to invest in. You should always make sure that your policy and the funds you’re invested in match your attitude to risk, what you have planned for your money and when you will need to access this money (such as, how close you may be to retirement). For example:

  • If you move to low risk funds and stay in them too long you may miss out on growth in financial markets and your policy could be more vulnerable to the effects of inflation.
  • On the other hand, if you’re planning on taking a large proportion of your savings soon, being in higher risk funds puts you at risk of further sudden movements in the stock markets affecting what you may get back.

If you’re not sure about what funds to invest in, you should seek advice from your financial advisor before making any fund switch.

Should I continue to invest money in my savings policy?

If you make regular contributions to an investment, you might wish to consider continuing to make those contributions. You will be able to invest at lower prices than before the market downturn. Remember there are no guarantees about how funds may perform in the future and prices may rise as well as fall.

Where can I get advice?

Of course, each customer’s circumstance is different and that is why we would encourage any of our customers with concerns about their savings and investments to speak to their Financial Advisor before making any investment decision.

More information on our funds can be found at the Ark Life Fund Centre.