It's not nice to think about what would happen if you found yourself unable to work because of a serious illness. Far too many of us adopt an ostrich-like response that the worst will never happen, or we choose to ignore how far our lifestyle could be devastated - that’s why protecting our lives and livelihood often becomes a low priority.
The miserable truth according to Cancer Research UK (CRUK) is that every two minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer. Although cancer is common, its also reported that cancer survival has doubled in the last 40 years, thanks to advances in research, new treatments, earlier diagnosis, screening, and awareness – which is why insurance can be vital, as one survivor Monique Oakley recently told The Telegraph.
Although treatment is now more effective, the cost of the illness is high for sufferers who may be forced to take extended time off work to battle their illness. Which without a doubt could make it difficult to keep up with mortgage payments and household bills – and this is when critical illness cover can come to the rescue.
Critical illness insurance pays out if you are unable to work through a serious health problem, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis or a stroke. Cover for other conditions varies depending on the policy, and you’ll need to check to see what’s included.
This payment can help with care costs, medical bills, or even travelling abroad for treatment and is often combined with life insurance for extra peace of mind.
Yet many of us are still reluctant to take pre-emptive steps to protect ourselves financially in case we become ill - it’s estimated that as few as 1 in 10 UK adults have taken out critical illness cover.
Monique Oakley, a 41-year-old special needs teacher from Lincolnshire, was diagnosed with breast cancer in December last year. She told The Telegraph that her husband insisted they take out a joint critical illness policy following the birth of their first child. Tragically, just five weeks after starting a new teaching job, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. However, she was pleased her husband had been so sensible when she successfully claimed almost £90,000 on her critical illness policy. She said: “At first, you can’t believe it’s happened to you. Considering I’d just started with a new school, they were amazing and supportive. The critical illness cover ironically has been a lifesaver because I am only entitled to the statutory sick pay which ends in a couple of weeks. We’ve been able to pay off a large part of our mortgage and have set aside some funds to cover bills that might come up in the near future. I honestly don’t know how we would be coping at the moment had we not been relieved of some of the financial burden we would otherwise be facing.”
In deciding on the amount of cover required, add up not only your outstanding mortgage and other loans but bills you either could not pay or struggle to in the event you were unable to work. You are protecting your lifestyle and should also look to the future such as not being able to continue to make pension provision.
A serious illness may mean you can never work again or carry out the job you were trained for. For those with children, apart from wanting to continue home life, there could be the cost of private schooling and/or help with later educational costs such as at university.
The latest figures released by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and Group Risk Development (GRiD) show that the average critical illness claim paid by the insurance industry in 2018 was almost £80,000 and more than £1 billion in claims were paid and over 16,000 individuals were supported financially.
Critical illness will not cover all conditions to be off work and it’s important to look carefully at the policy conditions, some can be difficult to understand but you need to make sure that you get a policy that will provide the level cover you need.
The Money Advice Service says, “It’s important to compare critical illness policies before you buy. There are important differences between policies, so choose wisely” and they suggest using an advisor to help you make the right decision.
If you’re considering this valuable type of cover, why not let our experienced team search and compare policies from leading UK insurers and help you decide which cover is best for you. You can speak to an advisor today by calling 0800 612 8005.
Nobody wants to think that a critical illness could seriously disturb their lives and ability to work, but if it does, it pays to have the right cover in place to give you much needed financial support at a difficult time.