COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions

Keeping you informed about your super, as we all face an unprecedented challenge.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, here are some frequently asked questions from our members.

Is my super safe?

In the event of economic events such as those sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, plans have been put in place to reduce market volatility and vulnerability. We prefer to invest in assets that endeavor to provide the stability to generate long term results. This means the majority of your investment is likely to have a more stable foundation in tangible, real world assets.

Our considered investment approach and focus on downside protection seeks to protect your investment against significant falls in the market. For more information click here.

If you super is invested in the Emergency Services Superannuation Defied Benefit Fund or the State Superannuation Defined Benefit Fund, then your entitlements are guaranteed by the Victorian State Government. Recent equity market declines will not impact your ESSSuper retirement benefits.

Investment returns cannot be guaranteed as investment markets can be volatile. As a consequence, returns can be positive or negative. Past investment performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Benefits in ESSSuper's Accumulation Plan, Income Streams and Beneficiary Account products are not guaranteed or underwritten by the Victorian Government or ESSSuper, and ESSSuper does not come under the jurisdiction of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.

Should I switch my investment options?

There are things to consider if you're thinking about switching your investment options. Switching Investment Options to lower risk investment options may inadvertently lock-in investment losses and miss out on the potential for higher returns by being out of the market when it recovers. Market downturns, whatever their trigger may be, are inevitable and temporary. Every crisis, downturn, and recession comes to an end. And it is very likely that this crisis will be no different.

We encourage our members to take a long term perspective when it considering their super investments, and to speak to us before switching investment options. 

Do I qualify for early access to my super?

Recently, the government introduced a new compassionate early release measure that allows individuals to access up to $10,000 from their super during the 2019-20 financial year, and a further $10,000 during the 2020-21 financial year, prior to 31 December 2020.

Members will need to apply directly to ESSSuper if they wish to withdraw funds under the new early release measure.

We'll keep you updated as more information becomes available.

Should I access my super, if I am eligible?

When withdrawing any amount of money from your super, it's important to understand the effect it may have on your retirement prospects. This is because you are potentially missing out on the benefits of compound earnings - particularly when this money is released many years before you retire. You can read more about retirement impacts here.

Our members' retirement prospects remain our priority. While we understand that members may need to access their super during these difficult times, we advise that doing so in times of market volatility, should be regarded as a last resort. We would encourage you to speak to our experienced consultants before making decisions about your super.

How do I apply for early release of my super?

The Australian Government allowed individuals affected by the coronavirus to access up to $10,000 of their super until 31 December 2020. For more information click here.

What are my other options besides withdrawing my super?

The Australian Government is providing a range of financial assistance to impacted Australians. This assistance includes income support payments and payments to support households. For more information please visit the Treasury's web page.

The Department of Social Services is also supporting individuals and families affected by COVID-19 through a range of measures. Please visit the Minister for Families and Social Services' web page for further information.

What are the new minimum drawdown rates for ESSSuper Working Income Stream and Retirement Income Stream members?

The Government is helping retirees manage the adverse impact of COVID-19 on their super balance by proposing a temporary reduction to superannuation minimum drawdown requirements. The proposed (50%) reductions are for account-based pensions and similar products for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 income years.

Please download the ATO fact sheet for more information. We'll keep you updated as more information becomes available.

Insurance: what am I covered for?

Insurance can give you peace of mind, as it provides financial support to protect the one's you love during times of difficulty. Since the onset of COVID-19 there have been a few questions about our insurance cover. 

All of our Defined Benefit (DB) members will continue to receive cover in their DB Schemes underwritten by the Victorian Government. Read more here.

For members with Death and Death and Total and Permanent (TPD) insurance cover in our Accumulation Plan, which is underwritten by CommInsure, COVID-19 has no impact on the existing insurance cover held by members. Members who are impacted by COVID-19 wishing to make a claim should contact our Member Service Centre on 1300 650 161.

Our Accumulation Plan Death and TPD Insurance policy contains a pandemic exclusion for new members, or members who reinstate or take out new cover. CommInsure has not exercised this exclusion at this time and our Insurer will continue to assess and pay any claims for our members who may be affected by COVID-19.

Our Accumulation Plan Income Protection policy does not contain a pandemic exclusion, so COVID-19 has no impact on Income Protection insurance.

For further information about our Accumulation Plan insurance offer, please refer to the Insurance Guide (AP.2) (PDF 887.3KB)

ESSSuper provides insurance cover in the Accumulation Plan to members through group insurance policies that the Board holds with The Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Limited (CMLA), otherwise known as CommInsure. CommInsure is used under licence by CMLA. CMLA has entered into a Joint Cooperation Agreement with AIA Australia Limited (AIA) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) for the joint operation of the CMLA and AIA businesses. AIA is part of the AIA Group, the largest publicly listed life insurance group in the Asia Pacific region with a presence in 18 markets. Whilst CBA will remain the ultimate shareholder of CMLA, under the terms of the Joint Cooperation Agreement AIA will have an appropriate level of direct management and oversight of the CMLA business. There will be no changes to your insurance arrangements as a result of this change in ownership of CMLA. Copies of the insurance policy documents are available on request. Cover is subject to the terms of the applicable policy

We’re here to help

If you don't find what you're looking for here, visit our investment update page for further information and the latest news, or please feel free to contact us on 1300 650 161 or

Emergency Services Superannuation Board ABN 28 161 296 741 the Trustee of the Emergency Services Superannuation Scheme ABN 85 894 637 037 (ESSSuper). The information contained in this document is of a general nature only. It should not be considered as a substitute for reading the relevant ESSSuper Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) that contains detailed information about ESSSuper products, services and features. Before making a decision about an ESSSuper product, you should consider the appropriateness of the product to your personal objectives, financial situation and needs. It may also be beneficial to seek professional advice from a licensed financial planner or adviser. An ESSSuper PDS is available at or by calling 1300 650 161. Benefits in ESSSuper’s Accumulation Plan, Income Streams and Beneficiary Account products are not guaranteed or underwritten by the Victorian Government or ESSSuper, and ESSSuper does not come under the jurisdiction of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.

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