Time for women to wise up to their true value – Liberty

08 October 2008 Liberty Life

Most working women just don’t know how important they are. This is reflected in a ‘make-weight mindset’ inherited from the last generation that can interfere with rational financial provision, says leading life assurer, Liberty Life.

Joretha Visser, Head of Risk, Product Development and Support at Liberty, has put her finger on the pulse of a problem that still resonates in the new millennium – inadequate dread disease cover for women who think this is ‘a man-thing’ as a woman’s income is supplementary.

“The problem,” says Joretha, “is that a woman’s contribution can be absolutely vital. It might be the only regular income or the primary source of income, yet still the make-weight mindset persists.

“The issue goes beyond self-worth; it can be self-destructive. If income dries up, lifestyles, families and homes can be destroyed.

”A provider must think like a provider. Unfortunately, many women don’t.”

Special risks for women are often seen in the context of breast cancer. This risk is basic to insurance product design for women as international statistics show one in nine women have a lifetime risk of breast cancer while there has been a 21% increase in breast cancer worldwide in the last 15 years.

However, cover for other risk areas deserve attention and includes other cancers, strokes and ischaemic heart disease (the most common cause of death in many countries).

Women are more likely than men to develop multiple sclerosis and connective tissue diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus, where the immune system attacks its own cells and tissue.

Joretha notes: “These are specific benefits in dread disease provision developed by a life company like Liberty that is particularly sensitive to the issue of cover for the female provider.”

Liberty demonstrated its awareness of special risks faced by women in their reproductive years with the launch of its Living Lifestyle and Female Living Lifestyle benefits.

Cover under the Female Living Lifestyle benefit include abortion due to amniocentesis (the test enabling prenatal diagnosis of genetic abnormality), abruptio placenta (premature separation of placenta), placenta praevia (a big cause of vaginal bleeding) and eclampsia, another serious pregnancy complication characterised by convulsions and breathing difficulties). In addition, several other disorders as well as congenital birth disorders and risks are specifically addressed by the Female Living Lifestyle benefit.

“Historically, the insurance industry focus was always on dread disease products for men,” says Joretha. “Companies like Liberty broke with the past years ago, but many women seem to find it difficult to shake off old habits.

“There’s no ‘wise-up pill’ for women who have trouble moving on, but a new generation of provider-women should at least spare time to think through the consequences of poor dread disease cover.

“A woman’s economic power has life-changing properties. It’s worth protecting.”

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