COVID-19 information hub

COVID-19 information hub

Information about COVID-19 and your super

COVID-19 resulted in uncertainty and challenges for many of us. We extend our thoughts to those who have experienced financial challenges or other stress.

At CareSuper, we continue to deliver on our purpose which centres around our members and employers. We’re taking active investment decisions and protecting against downside risk to help safeguard your (or your employees’) super. 

Your investments

We saw some extraordinary developments in investments throughout 2020. Hear from our Chief Investment Officer on what’s the latest in financial markets, how CareSuper is investing, what it means for your super.

Find out more

Early access to super
In 2020 the government temporarily changed the rules around accessing super to help people access emergency funds if they were experiencing severe financial difficulties.

Applications for this scheme ended on 31 December 2020. You may still be able to access your super early another way, but only in special circumstances.

Scams and COVID-19

Criminals are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are reports of callers pretending to be from the ATO, ASIC or myGov trying to steal your personal details and your super. If someone calls and says they are from a government department like myGov or the ATO, or a financial institution like us or your bank, hang up and call the organisation directly.

We’ll contact you if you’ve asked for a call from us or been in contact with us. If you receive a cold call from someone claiming to be from CareSuper, ask for their details and let them know you’ll call back to confirm their identity. Then call us on 1300 360 149.

Messages and emails that look legitimate but aren’t, have also been circulating. Don’t click on any links or attachments sent via SMS or email and don’t provide your personal details If in doubt, contact the organisation directly via their official website or phone number.

Speak to a financial planner
Keen to take control of your super (and perhaps your broader finances too)? Seeking financial advice through your super could be a great option. We’re able to offer both online and face-to-face financial planning appointments. Explore the different types of advice available to you and book a call-back to speak to a planner.
Changes to minimum pension payment limits
What are the changes to minimum pension payments?

The Federal Government reduced minimum payment limits for account-based pensions and similar products by 50% for 2020/21 and 2021/22.

This change was made in response to significant market volatility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you prefer to maintain your capital, you may want to take advantage of the new temporary rates to draw less from your pension account.

This change is in effect now. 

I’m a CareSuper pension member. What does this mean for me?

If you elect to receive the minimum payment rate, we automatically apply the temporary minimum rates.

If you had elected to receive your payments above the minimum rate, we calculate your payments for based on the payment choice you had in place at the end of the financial year. You can change this nomination at any time.

We calculate your new financial year payments on 1 July based on:

  • Your account balance on that day, and
  • The payment choice you had in place at the end of the financial year, and
  • The government-set payment limits, which are based on your age. 
What if I don’t want to reduce my pension payments?

If you’ve elected the minimum payment rate, your payments will automatically be paid at the lower rate. If you don’t want to reduce your payments you can manage your income payments via MemberOnline and set your income to level you’re comfortable with.

To change your payments, log in to MemberOnline, navigate to the Withdrawals section and follow the steps to amend your payment preference.

What’s the new minimum income limit?

We’ve shown the minimum income limits in the table below

  % of account balance
Age New rate Previous rate
Under 65 2% 4%
65 to 74 2.5% 5%
75 to 79 3% 6%
80 to 84 3.5% 7%
85 to 89 4.5% 9%
90 to 94 5.5% 11%
95 and over 7% 14%

 

Why did CareSuper reduce the minimum payment rate automatically?

If you’ve elected ‘minimum’ as your payment preference, it’s important that we do not pay you above the minimum set by the government, otherwise we’re not acting in line with your instructions.

We understand some members would prefer to maintain their current income level, and that’s why it’s important to manage your payment preferences so you’re receiving your preferred higher income rate. You can change your preferences throughout the year, as long as they remain at or above the minimum. 

Why would a pension member reduce their income?

When market conditions are volatile, some members might choose to preserve their capital and units by drawing less money from their pension account. The 50% reduction in the minimum income you must draw from your pension reduces the amount you are required to take as regular payments giving you the option to keep more capital in your account.

If you don’t have an immediate need for the income, you may prefer to draw less from your pension account. 

When do I need to change my income payments by?

To allow time for us to process the change, we need to receive your change request a week before your next scheduled income payment.

To change your payments, log in to MemberOnline and navigate to the ‘Withdrawals’ section.

You can also complete and return the Pension election form and send it back to us. If you can’t get to a post box, you can send this form to us online from the Contact us page in MemberOnline. Attach an electronic copy of your completed form to your query. Make sure to allow at least five working days before your payment date.

As soon as we process your request, we’ll update your future payments to reflect your new instructions. 

How do I change my payments?

To change your payment preferences, log in to MemberOnline navigate to the ‘Withdrawals’ section.

You can also complete and return the Pension election form and send it back to us. If you can’t get to a post box, you can send this form to us online from the Contact us page in MemberOnline. Attach an electronic copy of your completed form to your query. Make sure to allow at least five working days before your payment date.

As soon as we process your request, we’ll update your future payments to reflect your new instructions.

How do I view my pension payment amounts and dates online?

In MemberOnline, navigate to the ‘Withdrawals’ menu item, and once you're on the Withdrawals page, review the ‘Current Withdrawal Details’ table. 

Can I stop my income payments?

You can only stop your payments if you’ve received the minimum for the year.

Once you receive that value, you can defer your next payment to the next financial year. You can set this up by completing a Pension election form to change your payment frequency and nominate a future month to recommence income payments.

Financial liquidity and your super
What is financial liquidity?

Financial liquidity refers to how easily and quickly an investment can be converted to cash and still maintain its value.

Assets like shares and bonds are very liquid since they can usually be sold and converted to cash fairly quickly. On the other hand, assets like property and infrastructure are less liquid because they tend to take longer to sell (i.e. to liquidate).

How does CareSuper balance liquid and illiquid assets?

At CareSuper, we believe that a combination of liquid and illiquid assets is important for a diversified investment program.

All of our Managed options invest in liquid assets, including cash and assets traded on public markets (such as listed shares and fixed interest securities). In recent weeks, around two thirds of the assets in our Balanced option are classed as liquid assets, because they can be converted to cash within 30 days.  Most of our members have all or part of their super invested in the Balanced option.

Around one third of the Balanced option’s investment portfolio is held in illiquid assets. These comprise mostly our unlisted assets such as direct property (e.g. office buildings and shopping centres), infrastructure (toll roads, airports and ports) and our private equity (investments in private companies not listed on a stock exchange).These types of investments tend to perform differently in different market conditions and are an important part of how we diversify our investments to reduce the impact of volatility in share markets.

These illiquid assets have contributed to our strong long-term historical returns for members.^ You can learn more about our investments in our Investment Guide. 

^Past performance is not an indicator of future performance.

What is liquidity risk and how does CareSuper manage it?

Liquidity risk describes the possibility that an entity may not be able to convert an asset into cash quickly and meet its short-term financial obligations without losing value in the process.

Managing our liquidity risk is a key part of our investment program and is outlined in our Liquidity Policy which is approved by the Board and implemented by our Investments team. Our approach to managing liquidity risk is in line with the relevant superannuation laws including the requirements set by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).

Under these requirements, we must ensure we have enough cashflow at all times. This includes ensuring we have enough liquidity at extreme times such as the global financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.

How do we do this? Our approach to managing liquidity risk involves:

  • Explicitly considering liquidity when setting and reviewing asset allocations for each option
  • Monitoring key indicators of changes in investment markets and/or cash flows
  • Regularly ‘stress-testing’ our investment portfolio against a range of various scenarios to ensure we’re protecting our members’ assets and to determine whether we need to adjust our portfolios.
  • Maintaining a liquidity action plan for managing liquidity events.
The Direct Property option
What does the revaluation mean for my super balance?

For members invested in the Direct Property option, the revaluation will mean a reduction in unit prices which will be reflected in their account balance. We acknowledge this is difficult for members however, it is unavoidable in these current economic circumstances.

The change in the property valuation is modest compared to the fall in share markets (which, since February, have reduced by around 25%^) and Australian listed real estate investment trusts (REITs) (which have dropped by around 40%^). Importantly, this revaluation shows how unlisted property investments can be more stable and resilient than share markets in times of market downturn. This is a key part of our strategy with respect to property investment, and illustrates why we exclude listed investments from our property investment strategy.

Especially in times of market uncertainty, it’s important to keep in mind that super is a long-term investment. The Direct Property option has a recommended investment timeframe of 5+ years and a return objective of achieving returns that exceed the inflation rate by at least 3% per year (over rolling 10-year periods and after tax and fees). Over the last 10 years the Direct property option has delivered strong and consistent long-term returns*. You can view the Direct Property option’s performance on our investment performance page.

^As at 30 March 2020.

*Past performance is not an indicator of future performance.

What types of investments does the Direct Property option invest in?

This option invests in unlisted property portfolios and has zero holdings in listed property investments (such as REITs). Our unlisted property portfolios focus on core, high-quality properties across a diverse range of sectors – mainly CBD office buildings, shopping centres, and some industrial sites. You can view the top holdings for the Direct Property option here, and the investment managers for the Direct Property holdings here.

 

How does the Direct Property option generate returns?

Returns on property investments come from both rental income and changes in the capital value of the properties over time. Our property managers are able to enhance returns through actively managing property portfolios (e.g. by securing rental growth, or by refurbishing and re-positioning properties). One of the key skills of our property managers is achieving effective diversity within each portfolio to balance exposures and position each portfolio for the future.

Like most investments, the value of property can rise and fall depending on prevailing market conditions.

You can learn more about the Direct Property option and view returns on our investment performance page.

* Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

How do I find more information on the Direct Property option?

Learn more about the Direct Property option including who it suitable for and the risk level and view returns on our investment performance page.

Changing your investments
How can I change my investments?

You have three options:

  1. Log in to your account to choose or change your investments, or
  2. Call us on 1300 360 149 to change your investments over the phone, or
  3. Download and complete an Investment choice form and send it to us here.
When will my investment switch become effective?

The date your requested change becomes effective will depend on when we receive it. Online change requests received by midnight (AET) on a business day and changes over the phone received by 8pm (AET) on a business day are processed using the unit price effective at close of markets the following business day. A ‘business day’ is defined as  Monday to Friday excluding national public holidays.

Switch requests received on weekends or national public holidays will be regarded as being received on the next business day and will receive the unit price for the business day following. For example, if we receive a switch request on Saturday the unit price effective Tuesday will usually apply.

When will my investment switch be visible in MemberOnline?

Your investment switch will generally be visible in MemberOnline three business days after we receive your request, once the change has been processed on your account and your assets have been reallocated. If you’ve submitted your request online, keep a copy of your receipt number for reference.

How do I change or cancel a pending investment switch?

Already put in a switch request and want to change your instructions? Call us on 1300 360 149, so we can walk you through the process. You cannot cancel an investment switch through your online account.

What unit price is used when I make a withdrawal?

If you request a withdrawal, we’ll withdraw your funds using the 'sell price’ from the day we process your transaction. If we don’t have enough information from you to proceed with your request, we may need to use the unit price from a later date. Where a transaction involves money going out of your account, the money will remain invested in the investment option(s) applicable to your account until the payment is processed.

The Fixed Interest option
How is the COVID-19 pandemic impacting CareSuper’s Fixed Interest option?

Fixed interest securities (also known as bonds) have recently become more volatile (and some days even negative) than what would have been expected for a defensive investment during times of market crisis.

This is mainly due to the spread of COVID-19 across the world, which has led to different countries being impacted at different times and resulted in fluctuations (up and down) in global bond market movements, as well as a large disparity in performance of bonds issued by various countries.

In addition, due to the deepening COVID-19 pandemic, certain investors have displayed unusual behaviours, such as selling assets (e.g. government bonds, corporate bonds and even gold) to meet liquidity requirements such as margin calls or to rebalance and buy shares given the unusually sharp market sell-off.

It’s important to keep in mind however, that over the longer term, the risk level for the Fixed Interest option is very low with the likelihood of a negative annual return of 0.2 in every 20 years.

What types of investments does the Fixed Interest option invest in?

Our Fixed Interest option currently comprises 35% cash and 65% fixed interest securities (also known as bonds).

Fixed interest investments can be a loan to a government or company where the interest rate is set in advance and the principal is paid back at maturity. Most of the fixed interest securities that CareSuper invests in are Government bonds.

How does the Fixed Interest option generate returns?

Returns from bonds are generated from two key components:

  • The interest received, and
  • The capital movement (or price change) of the bond.

The interest rate is set when the bond is issued, and it is a fixed rate. This is where the term ‘fixed interest’ comes from.

Importantly, it is the value of the regular interest payments that is ‘fixed’ and not the market value of the security as a whole. For example, a $100 investment in a bond with a 3% interest rate would pay $3 dollars in interest per year. If the price of the bond does not change, the return on the investment in the bond would be 3% per year.

 

Can the value of my investment in Fixed Interest rise and fall?

Yes. Many of our members are aware that the value of shares and other assets can go up and down in the short term but may not realise that this can also occur with bonds (usually to a lesser extent than shares).

Even though the fixed interest asset class can provide more predictable investment returns and be less volatile than shares (and other growth assets), this option may still deliver low or negative returns over certain periods.

Like shares, fixed interest investments can be actively traded and have the potential for both positive and negative returns.

Investing in the Fixed Interest option is quite different to putting money into a term deposit or in cash. There is not a set rate of return on the Fixed Interest option.

What causes Fixed Interest assets to rise and fall?

Some of the main factors that affect bond prices include changes in prevailing/market interest rates and interest rate expectations.

A bond’s price always moves in the opposite direction to interest rates, so a higher interest rate (or yield) usually causes a fall in bond prices. Generally, bonds do not deliver negative returns very frequently, so many investors are not aware that this is possible.

The key to understanding this critical feature of the bond market is to recognise that a bond’s price reflects the value of the income that it provides through its regular interest payments. When prevailing interest rates fall — notably rates on Government bonds — older bonds of all types become more valuable because they were sold in a higher interest rate environment and are therefore paying a higher regular interest payment than a bond issued today.

Investors holding older bonds can then charge a ‘premium’, selling them at a higher price in the open market. On the other hand, if interest rates rise, older bonds may become less valuable because their interest payments are relatively low compared to bonds issued today. This means that the older bonds are therefore likely to trade at a discount, which could lead to negative capital returns. When the decrease in price (capital value) is greater than the interest payment, the bond’s total return is negative.

How do I find more information on the Fixed Interest option?

Familiarise yourself with the investment option’s risk level, return objective, investment timeframe and likelihood of a negative return. You can find this information on our website or by watching this video.

If you need advice, get in contact with a financial planner* to ensure the appropriateness of your investment strategy. This is a benefit of membership, so you don’t need to pay anything extra for this information.

*Financial advice obtained over the phone, or through MemberOnline, is provided by Mercer Financial Advice (Australia) Pty Ltd (MFAAPL) ABN 76 153 168 293, Australian Financial Services Licence #411766.

 

Insurance cover
Am I covered for COVID-19?

If you have death, TPD or income protection cover with us, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) pandemic declaration hasn’t affected your cover.

You will be covered in the event of death, total and permanent disablement, or illness or injury if you meet the eligibility criteria and other conditions as at that time. This applies to all existing and new CareSuper members.  

I’ve lost my job. Can I make a claim through my income protection insurance?

Unfortunately not. Income protection insurance doesn’t cover you if you lose your job. Your income protection insurance benefit covers you if you need to take extended time off work to recover from an injury or illness. 

If I’m currently not working due to COVID-19, can I still make an income protection claim if I suffer an illness or injury?

If you meet the usual eligibility claim requirements and have an inability to work due to illness or injury and you are stood down (as defined under the Fair Work Act), you’re considered by our insurer to be on leave without pay. Generally, any benefits would commence after the leave without pay period, however if you’re stood down due to COVID-19, our insurer will disregard this standard condition and benefits will commence at the end of your waiting period. For more information, please see the Making an income protection claim fact sheet.

Minimum work hour requirements will still apply, and any benefits payable will be based on average income for the previous twelve months prior to the date of disablement.

If I’m currently not working or my regular hours have reduced due to COVID-19, will I be eligible for a TPD benefit if I become totally and permanently disabled?

Provided you met the eligibility terms and conditions of cover at the time your TPD cover commenced, there will be no change to your eligibility or TPD benefits if you’re not working or your work hours have reduced.

I’m part of a corporate arrangement and my insured benefit is linked to my salary. What will happen if my normal annual salary is affected by COVID-19?

Your insured benefit is reviewed once a year based on your salary at the time of your employer’s review date. Changes in salary aren’t reviewed between this one-year period. If you’re concerned about a potential change to your insured benefit, please contact us.

If you have income protection cover any benefits payable will be based on your average income for the previous twelve months prior to the date of disablement, up to the maximum of your sum insured.

If I take all my super under the Federal Government’s COVID-19 early release measure, what will happen to my insurance cover and my super account?

If you withdraw all your super with us, your super account will close and you will lose your insurance cover. If you later get a new employer contribution, we’ll open a new account for you and you’ll need to meet the eligibility criteria for standard insurance cover to commence, as outlined in the Insurance Guide relevant to you at that time. This criteria may be different to when you last received standard cover with us, and the cover you receive may be limited cover.  Please note you will not be able to get any additional cover back (i.e. other cover you’d previously been accepted for with us, or cover you’d transferred from another fund).

You can check how much cover you have in MemberOnline or by contacting us.

Are there any changes to how insurance claims are assessed? How can I get more support?

There are no changes to how insurance claims are assessed.

If you’re having trouble making a claim, please contact us. If you have a claim in progress and have any questions about it, please contact our dedicated claims team on 1300 090 925.

How is insurance cover for new members affected by COVID-19?

There are no special conditions for new members. New members will receive standard cover as outlined in their Insurance Guide, if they meet the eligibility criteria. 

Is CareSuper’s New Member Options cover affected by COVID-19?

Eligible members can still apply to increase their standard cover under the New Member Options. Cover is subject to standard terms and conditions. 

If I’m diagnosed with COVID-19, or have visited a country or region that is considered a COVID-19 risk, can I apply for additional cover?

You can always apply for extra cover. Your application will be assessed by our insurer and you’ll need to provide health evidence.  

The insurer will wait at least three months to make a decision. You’ll need to receive a clean bill of health from your doctor, confirming you are free from illness and symptoms and have no ongoing respiratory conditions. 

Will I be covered if I travel internationally?

Your insurance provides worldwide cover 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  

While government-enforced travel bans are in place, you won’t be covered for international travel if you apply and are accepted for any additional cover.  

General COVID-19 FAQs
I’ve tried to call CareSuper. Why can’t I get through?

As you can imagine we’re receiving lots of calls from members at the moment. We’re sorry for the delays you’re experiencing. Please bear with us – our contact centre is fully staffed and we’re dedicated to helping you as promptly as we can.

Do I still need to post forms to CareSuper in the mail?

You can request most changes to your account online or over the phone (for example changing your investments, updating your details, or nominating a non-binding beneficiary) – and you can also upload completed forms to us online. 

The best way to do this is by logging in to your MemberOnline account and attaching a file to your query from the ‘Contact us’ section.

If you’re nominating a binding beneficiary, you’ll need to send us a signed form in the post. Making a binding beneficiary nomination is a legally binding agreement and required to be signed in the presence of two witnesses. The law hasn't changed here, so we must have your original signature and those of your witnesses as a record of your request for your nomination to be valid in the event of your death. Learn more about nominating beneficiaries. 

If you’re looking to make a withdrawal from your account, get in touch with us and we’ll talk you through the process.

Which events did CareSuper cancel?

As a precautionary measure, we cancelled the following events. If you were registered to attend, we’ve contacted you directly.  

  • Pension morning tea (Sydney) – 19 March 2020
  • Future Focus seminar (Geelong) – 17 March 2020
  • Future Focus seminar (Campbelltown) – 24 March 2020
  • Future Focus seminar (Gold Coast) – 24 March 2020
  • Future Focus seminar (Canberra) – 25 March 2020
  • Future Focus seminar (Doncaster) – 2 April 2020
  • Level Up lunch (Melbourne) – 7 April 2020

Once we’ve re-scheduled, we’ll be in touch.

Getting in touch with us
We’re committed to providing you with the best service possible, even in these unique times.

If you can’t find what you need here, get in touch.