Helping a client sort out insurance through their super fund might not be glamorous work, but Bill Buttler says it often turns out to be extremely valuable.

Back in 1975, I started my first permanent job, at the ripe old age of 23.

Within a year, I was married; and by the time my wife and I were 30, most of our friends and work colleagues had followed more or less the same path – two or three kids, and a modest suburban home with a mortgage to match.

Now fast forward to the 21st century. There have been dramatic social and lifestyle changes over the intervening years:

• The median marriage age for males has jumped from just over 23 to just under 30.

• The median age of mothers has increased from 25 to 30.

• The average mortgage size has climbed from 2.5 times to 5.5 times the average annual wage.

‘The default cover provided by super funds…is not going to be adequate in many cases’

The changes in marriage age probably reflect significant changes in social attitudes to marriage and child bearing. Cohabitation and raising children out of wedlock do not hold the same social stigma that applied even as recently as 1975. Even so, it is clear that couples are starting families later – much later.

And while a family dependent on a single breadwinner was still the norm in 1975, it is very likely that, today, it will take two incomes to service that mortgage and put the children through school and beyond.

So what does this all mean for personal financial security? The major consequence of these changes is that we are likely to see an increasing number of people with high life insurance cover needs right through the 40s, 50s and beyond – just when the cost of cover starts to escalate rapidly, and when changing health may impact on the availability of insurance at standard rates.

To illustrate, here are some typical annual premiums for $1 million of life and TPD cover (male, non-smoker, “standard” occupation):

It will become more and more difficult for older parents to cover the premium increase each year as the demands of school and university fees build up. What’s more, both partners in a couple are likely to be contributing to household income and therefore require significant amounts of cover through their middle ages and beyond.