When critical illness cover becomes a life-saver

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, which focuses on increasing understanding of the disease and raising money to fund research into a cure. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer and affects one in eight women. Along with all the difficulties associated with its diagnosis and treatment, cancer often wreaks financial havoc as sufferers have to take extended time off work to recover, making it difficult to keep up with mortgage payments and household bills. Monique Oakley’s story shows how vital it is to have the right insurance policy in place. 

Monique Oakley, a 41-year-old special needs teacher in Lincolnshire, was diagnosed with breast cancer in December last year. Mrs Oakley, who lives in Grimsby with her husband Paul and daughters, Brooke, 16, and Holly, 13, said her husband insisted they take out a joint critical illness policy following the birth of their first child. They paid £62 a month in premiums. In November last year she started a new teaching job at a school and just five weeks later was diagnosed with breast cancer. She successfully claimed £89,926 on her critical illness policy through Ageas Protect. Here’s her story;

“At first, you can’t believe it’s happened to you. The critical illness cover ironically has been a lifesaver because I was entitled to the statutory sick pay. 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. Looking back I am so pleased Paul was so sensible. 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.”

Around 12,000 women and 80 men die from breast cancer each year, however more people are surviving breast cancer than ever before thanks to advances in research, new treatments, earlier diagnosis, screening and breast cancer awareness. Fantastic news. However, the cost is high for sufferers as they go through treatment and effectively put their lives on hold. This is where critical illness cover can prove vital. Policyholders pay a monthly sum for cover lasting a set number of years. If they suffer any of a list of major diseases – notably cancer, strokes or heart attacks – the policy pays out a lump sum. Yet women are still reluctant to take proactive steps to protect themselves financially in case they become ill. Tom Baigrie, chief executive of advice firm LifeSearch, explains why critical illness cover is vitally important;

“Being able to cover the bills and pay for medical treatment while keeping the family financially secure removes any financial headaches at what can be a very emotional time,”

Not all critical illness cover offers the same level of protection so it is important to look at what’s on offer and read the policy documentation carefully. The monthly premiums vary widely between providers and depend mainly on a person’s age, health and lifestyle choices. It is worth noting that not all critical illness claims are successful.

Five things to look for when choosing a critical illness policy:

  • Look at the number of medical conditions covered by the policy. The norm is around 40 to 50 so be wary of anything below this, and be aware that you are only covered for the conditions shown on the list.
  • The definitions used for each condition will also vary by insurer. It is important to look for products which include cover for early stage cancers and not just advanced cancers.
  • Consider the monthly cost. The cheapest is rarely the best, but that doesn’t mean that the dearest will be the best either.
  • Be aware of how much each insurer will pay out for various conditions and make sure you are happy the payout would cover your costs.
  • Look for added value benefits such as free children’s cover, access to counselling and expert medical opinions.

As with any big decision, it’s important to get the right advice to ensure you choose the right level of cover for you and your family.

Source: The Telegraph. on 13 Oct 2014