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TPD vs Income Protection: Which One Should You Choose

Not being able to return to work because of an accident or illness could have devastating consequences. While sick leave and workers compensation might provide some relief, Total and Permanent Disability cover and income protection insurance will generally alleviate most of your financial burden.

Russell Cain

Fact Checked

Updated: 19 May 2024

TPD and income protection can offer financial support if you suffer an illness or injury and cannot work. However, the main difference is in how your benefit gets paid and the circumstances of your disability. TPD insurance, generally, provides a lump sum benefit when totally and permanently disabled, and it’s unlikely you’ll ever work again in either your own or any occupation. Income protection pays a monthly benefit, up to 70% of your regular income when you’re unable to work for longer than your waiting period.

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What’s the difference between TPD and income protection insurance?

Total and permanent disablement (TPD), generally, pays a lump sum of money if you can no longer work in your usual occupation or any occupation for which you are reasonably suited based on experience, training or education. Income protection insurance pays a monthly benefit, for a predetermined period (benefit period), when you are unable to work for a specified period (waiting period).

Having both TPD or income protection might provide more comprehensive coverage to help you and your family continue the lifestyle you’ve grown accustomed to.

Agreed Value policies no longer available

As of 31 March 2021, insurers could no longer sell Agreed Value income protection policies. Generally, this means you’ll now only be able to purchase Indemnity income protection insurance. This was the first of several income protection changes, the latest of which was implemented by 1 October 2021.

Compare total permanent disability insurance vs income protection

TPD Insurance
Income Protection Insurance
Pays a lump sum benefit if you are totally and permanently disabled due to a sickness or injury and unable to ever work again in your Own or Any occupation.
Income protection provides a monthly benefit – up to 70% for the remainder of your benefit period: Generally, 2 or 5 years or up to your age 65 or 70.
Generally cheaper than income protection.
Typically, more expensive than TPD because it covers more incidents.
Waiting period: Usually, 3 to 6 months.
Waiting period: Can range from 14, 30, or 60 days, 3 or 6 months, 1 or 2 years.
Premiums are not tax deductible. Lump sum benefit is generally tax-free.
Premiums are tax deductible. The monthly benefit is usually taxed because it’s seen as part of your regular income.
  • Paying the cost of specialist care and alternative treatments.
  • To fund any adjustments, you need to make to your lifestyle.
  • Settle any debts, including medical bills.
  • You can enhance your policy by adding optional extras.
  • Protect your ability to earn an income.
  • Covers both short-term and long-term incapacity.
  • Easier to claim because you do not need to prove permanent disability.
  • Your income stream remains uninterrupted even when you cannot work.
TPD cover options
  • Own occupation: The lump sum payment is made when you are permanently and totally disabled and unable to work in your specific occupation, in which you were engaged before the injury or illness.
  • Any Occupation: Provides cover when you are permanently incapable of working in any occupation suited to you by education, training or experience.
  • Home duties: Covers the homemaker or stay-at-home parent when they are totally and permanently disabled and no longer able to perform their regular domestic tasks, for example, cleaning and preparing meals.
  • Modified: Only pays a benefit if you are no longer capable of performing at least 2 of the 5 daily living activities. For example, bathing and eating.
Income protection types
  • Agreed value: Your monthly benefit is based on your income prior to application.
  • Indemnity value: Proof of income will be requested and confirmed at claim time.
  • Guaranteed Agreed value: Financial assessment takes place before the policy is accepted, and benefit payments may be guaranteed without needing financial proof.
  • Your monthly income and type of occupation will help you determine which income protection policy type is best suited to you.

How to choose between income protection and TPD

If your current budget only allows for one personal insurance policy type, determine the following to help you decide:

Can you claim TPD and income protection at the same time?

Yes, you can generally claim and get paid for both TPD and income protection insurance when an illness or injury prevents you from working, and you’ve met the policy definitions of a claimable event, as stated in your product disclosure statement (PDS). However, this might differ from insurer to insurer depending on their underwriting guidelines.

Be aware of the possible offset clause select insurance might apply when claiming on both TPD and income protection insurance. 

Take note; policy definitions are different for each insurance company, so shop around and use an insurance broker to help you gather and compare quotes from Australia’s leading life insurance companies.

Combining income protection and TPD cover

It can take a long time for a medical expert to declare that you are unlikely ever to work again. TPD cover can thus take months or even years before it pays out because of the lengthy claims assessment process. This is where income protection can help fill the gap, by providing a monthly benefit to support you until you receive the TPD lump sum payment.

By combining TPD and income protection insurance, you are generally better protected and can potentially save on premiums when policies are bought from the same insurance company. However, it’s vital that you consider the right option for your specific requirements and budget.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

You can set up both TPD and income protection inside your super fund. However, TPD insurance is only available for Any occupation when purchased through your super. Specific income protection benefits are not available in your superannuation, for example, the rehabilitation benefit, premium waiver benefit and the accommodation benefit.

Important: When claiming TPD or income protection through your superannuation, you’ll have to meet:

  • The insurer’s policy definition of a claimable event.
  • The Superannuation Industry Supervision (SIS) legislation for a condition of release.

If you work for yourself or own a small business, you typically won’t have paid sick leave or workers compensation to fall back on should you become ill or injured.

However, you will generally be able to get income protection insurance and TPD cover. Which one is best suited to you depends on your personal requirements, for example, your occupation, how high a risk it is, and whether you would benefit more from a lump sum amount or a monthly benefit.

If held outside your super fund, you can generally claim back part of your premiums for income protection, but not for TPD. On the other hand, the lump sum benefit of TPD is usually tax-free, while your monthly income protection benefit is typically taxed because it’s seen as part of your regular income.

Whether you need both total and permanent disability insurance and income protection cover depends on your specific requirements, for example, your occupation, financial dependents, available savings and budget. You might want to speak with an insurance specialist to help you.



Russell is the founder and CEO of Life Insurance Direct and has been quoted in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Independent Financial Adviser, Risk Adviser, Adviservoice, and Insurancenews. Russell has over 15 years’ experience in the Australian life insurance & financial services sector and is instrumental in driving the latest innovations in our insuretech platform.

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