A critical illness insurance can offer you and your family protection from unexpected medical expenses as well as the loss of income that often comes with it.This is the third article in my series on insurance. Previous articles can be read here and here.
First things first. I don’t want you to think I’m a hero. Or that my husband is a hero. I mean, yes, he is. And, yes, I am. Because we’re regular people, who get up in the morning, thank G-d for the beautiful day ahead of us, and carry on with things we have to do.
Just like you.
But cancer – my husband is one of the lucky ones. His cancer was 90%+ curable for those who catch it early enough. Which we did. And from start to finish, diagnosis to remission, the process was only five months long.
Now, that doesn’t mean it was a picnic – heck no. Or that I’d volunteer to relive those moments – not on your life. But it does mean that I know that there are cancer warriors out there whose journeys are longer and more physically and emotionally demanding than ours was.
Critical Illness Insurance ~ Our Story
But this is our story. And from a financial planning point of view, I think it’s critically important to share what my husband’s battle with cancer taught me about critical illness insurance.
Our journey started abruptly on a Sunday afternoon when I was grocery shopping with my 7-month old baby in tow. Jonathan, who’d been experiencing unusual back pain, called to tell me that he’d scheduled a doctor’s appointment – at six o’clock in the evening.
As a sleep deprived mom of six kids, who’d just returned to work job after maternity leave, all I could think was, “That’s dinner time! How can he leave me with all these kids at dinner time? It’s back pain – just go to a chiropractor!”
Fast forward a week and the diagnosis of cancer was confirmed. An operation, to be followed by chemo, was scheduled for the following Monday.
And that’s when my life turned upside down.
While Jonathan started a 3-week cycle of one week in-patient at the hospital, one week at home sleeping off the chemo, and one week dragging himself to work, I spent the next five months running (!) from home to hospital to work to home to whatever our large family needed taken care of that afternoon. I lived on a diet of worry, stress, adrenalin and prayer, plus home-made meals graciously prepared by our friends and neighbors.
But one stress I did not have…
Because of our critical illness insurance.
Critical Illness Insurance ~ How It Helped Us
Now, I would love to tell you that Jonathan and I were on top of our game and had all our finances, including our insurances, sorted. But that would be a lie. If you’ve read my story, you already know that cancer was our big a-ha moment – the moment when we finally pulled back the cover and took a deep dive look at all our finances.
And noticed that things were not in order.
So by luck rather than design, and by the grace of G-d, I discovered that my employer’s group health insurance coverage included critical illness insurance for myself and my husband. And while no amount of money could have erased the frenzy and worry I experienced, the lump-sum insurance payout allowed us to pay for private doctors, hire extra babysitters, pay for medication, taxis, pizza and more – without thinking twice. Once, I even asked the babysitter to take my feverish daughter to a doctor’s appointment, followed by a chest x-ray, to confirm she was sick with pneumonia.
Why I recommend critical illness insurance
As our story illustrates, becoming critically ill can happen at any time. And usually at the worst time – Jonathan’s illness was followed by a string of medical emergencies in both of our families.
No one wants to imagine what would happen to them or their loved ones should they suffer from a major illness like cancer. An unexpected medical emergency can put you and your family in a perfect financial storm. And that can make an already difficult situation even harder to bear.
Here are some sobering statistics to consider: In 2015, more than 50 percent of all deaths in the United States for people between the ages of 45 and 64 were attributed to Cancer (29.9%) and Heart Disease (20.9%).
If you haven’t taken any steps to plan ahead, the sudden medical expenses combined with your regular monthly obligations, such as mortgage or rent, utilities, and daily living expenses, like food, clothing, transportation and household supplies, can quickly turn your budget on its head. The situation becomes even more acute when the medical emergency prevents you from working.
Technically you may be able to access government benefits in your country; like National Health Services and the National Insurance Program in Israel where I live. It would be risky to rely exclusively on your government benefits if you become critically ill or disabled. Plus, qualifying for these programs is not always easy and the financial support you’ll receive probably won’t cover your full financial needs.
This is precisely where critical illness insurance (and disability insurance, which I will write about next week) can step in to fill in the gaps. These insurance products are specifically designed to provide financial benefits for people dealing with major illnesses.
How does Critical Illness Insurance work?
Critical illness insurance generally covers you if you are diagnosed with a severe, often life changing illness. Though coverage depends on the specific policy, some of the most commonly covered conditions include:
- Heart attack
- Multiple Sclerosis
- A major organ transplant
- Kidney failure
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
After providing the insurance company with an official medical diagnosis, critical illness insurance gives you a single lump-sum payment. You can use this money to pay for any expenses you incur while you are receiving medical treatment or recuperating from it. You can use the money to pay for medical equipment, like a wheelchair, and to prepare your home for its use by adding a ramp or widening passageways. The lump-sum payout also means you can stay current with your monthly mortgage or rental payments, car payments, and other living expenses.
Additional features that make Critical Illness Insurance particularly valuable:
- Even if you recover completely from your illness, you still get the money to cover your expenses.
- You can work (if you’re physically capable) after your diagnosis, and still receive your full benefit payout
- You can get coverage for a person of any age. This means you can buy insurance to cover your children, too.
- Depending on the tax code in your country, you may not have to claim the insurance payout as income on your tax return.
But there may also be restrictions of which you should be aware:
- Like all insurance products, upon purchase there is an initial waiting period (usually 90 days) during which you can’t collect on the policy.
- There is also a “survival period,” a predetermined number of days (usually 30 days) following the diagnosis of your illness during which you cannot collect on the policy.
- Some policies may offer a smaller payout as you get older since your financial needs will likely be less as your children grow up. Note to the wise – read the fine print carefully and question your insurance agent again and again.
Is Critical Illness Insurance right for you?
I have to say that we were one of the lucky ones. Our medical emergency passed quickly. But for many people, critical illnesses can last for years.
Receiving a lump-sum payout from your critical illness insurance policy can provide financial support for you and your family for a good long time.
As you make your decision on critical illness insurance, make sure to consider these factors:
- Your age
- Your overall health and the health of your family
- The number of dependents you have
- Your monthly expenses
- How much money you’ve set aside in safe savings to cover a financial emergency
- If have sufficient income (from other sources) to live on if you were unable to work.
- How dangerous your job is
- Whether or not you get coverage from an employer (like we did)
- Whether or not you are self-employed
Some of these factors may drive up the cost of the coverage you need. Nevertheless, they may be worth the financial peace of mind you gain during an emotionally and physically stressful time of your life. Critical illness insurance will have you and your family protected.
Would you like to discuss how Critical Illness Insurance may fit into your Financial Plan? Reach out for a free Get Acquainted Call. I’d love to see how I can support you.