Recently, Noble Oak reached out to me for a review of their new life insurance calculator tool. While this is a solicited post, all opinions below are my own. I was not paid for this post, and there are no affiliate links.
Last year, I reviewed our level of life insurance, and took action based upon what I found. Unfortunately, Mr. ETT didn’t follow through at the time, so this was a great prompt for revisiting our needs.
I’ll be the first to admit that I resent paying for any sort of insurance (not a surprise to regular readers). Even so, I appreciate the importance of having a backup, even while trying to save more, spend less and reach financial independence. What a waste if we were to work hard for 10–15 years, only to lose it all if one of us passed away. That’s the beauty of these calculators, though. You can easily check the amount you should be insured for as your life circumstances change.
Before You Start
Cost of Living
You need to know what you spend each week or month. If you haven’t been tracking your spending like I do with YNAB, open your online bank account. Most banks these days attempt to categorise your spending automatically. If you can’t access this, pull out statements for your bills, keep your latest grocery and petrol receipts, and/or try to keep track of your spending for a week. To get the most accurate assessment of your life insurance needs, you have to put in the most accurate information you can.
You will need to know the amount you have in superannuation, as well as any insurance you have within your super. Even if you’ve never signed up for insurance within super, most people have a default level of cover. The default is unlikely to be enough. Hopefully your superannuation provider offers an online portal that will allow you to find this information.
Noble Oak’s Life Insurance Calculator
You can find the Life Insurance Calculator under the Tools and FAQs menu on Noble Oak‘s home page. There is a brief summary of what the calculator will give you, and factors you need to take into consideration for the stage of life you are at. RiceWarner audited the calculator. When someone is trying to sell you something, it’s important to know that the underlying information you are basing your decision on isn’t inherently biased.
Using the Calculator
The look of the calculator is clean and uncluttered. I’ve seen some pretty awful layouts which are difficult to use. The design of Noble Oak’s calculator is simple—great start. The first page is two easy questions about… you!
The second page starts getting into the numbers—how much you earn, how much superannuation you have, and your occupation. If you are unsure of which group your occupation fits, you can hover over the icon to see an explanation.
Next come questions about your spending. Each category includes a slider to estimate how much of this spending is essential. Life insurance isn’t always about maintaining the same standard of living after someone dies. It can be—but the premiums will show that. This is where you need to go to your budget, bills or receipts to make a reasonably accurate assessment of how much you spend.
The third page is about mortgage, debts and assets. I think including a reminder that you can sell some assets in the event of a death is helpful. I’m sorry, Mr. ETT—the motorbike will go. If you have any life insurance products, inside or outside of super, this is the place to add them.
Step four asks about what is important to you after a nasty event has occurred. Everyone’s answers will be different. Even your answers will change depending upon what’s happening in your life. You can see some of our answers below. These would have been very different three years ago, before we discovered FIRE.
The last step asks for your contact details. I’m a big web privacy advocate, so I’m not a fan of adding my email address to get something. Usually, when faced with this choice, I abandon the website and find an equivalent that offers what I need without my details. I understand why companies do this, though. Plenty of bloggers do it too. They’ve put in effort to create something of value, and if you want it badly enough, payment is your email address. Companies want your eyeballs on their products. One way to do that is to have an email drop into your inbox . Because I hate email, I keep a separate address just for mailing lists.
(Also, you can’t have an apostrophe in the name field. Sorry to all the O’Connor/O’Malley/O’Neill/O’Brien families!)
You can access the report immediately, without leaving Noble Oak’s website. They break down your needs into three levels: essential, important and nice to have. This means that instead of walking away when faced with a single premium you can’t afford, you have options. I’ve said before it’s better to have some level of cover than none at all.
You can also download the report as a PDF from the results screen. When I first reviewed the tool, formatting of the report meant one of the columns appeared to have no data. After communicating with Noble Oak, they worked quickly to fix the formatting. Unfortunately, this isn’t yet the case for the report I received by email: you can see that some information appears to be missing from the “Existing Cover” column. We have existing cover through superannuation. The calculations have taken this into account so it is still usable, however the details are not displayed. I’m sure this is a minor issue that will be dealt with quickly.
In summary, there are a few aspects to the calculator that still need fixing, but they are minor and don’t affect the outcome. You will come away with an idea of your life insurance needs, for an investment of about 15 minutes of your time. The only step remaining is to decide how you will act on the information.