The importance of complete dread disease cover

01 October 2011 Ferdi Booysen, Old Mutual

Statistics confirm there is a high likelihood of your client contracting a major illness such as heart disease or cancer before they die. And thanks to advances in medical technology they are more likely to survive these illnesses than ever before...

Surviving a dread disease is only part of the struggle, because your client faces countless psychological and financial hardships before, during and after the appropriate medical intervention. “While medical schemes help to meet medical costs associated with the illness, the patient is responsible for many post-event costs and services,” says Ferdi Booysen, Old Mutual’s risk solutions product manager.

Essential extras

Dread disease cover is a critical and often misunderstood financial planning tool. “The financial security and psychological peace of mind that today’s sophisticated dread disease products offer should command the attention of all responsible South Africans,” says Booysen. Comprehensive cover is indispensable in an era where cancers are caught much earlier than before.

Breast cancer is one example. Despite medical researchers making advances in the treatment of the disease each year, there are still many unanswered questions. The disease is often thought of as afflicting older woman because it tends to be diagnosed at age 50-plus. But increasingly women in their 20s and 30s are being diagnosed!

An early diagnosis escalates the psychological implications for your client’s families, as many of these women may have young children who may not understand the severity of the disease.

For a severe illness such as breast cancer, risk insurance will probably cover most of the expenses of reconstructive surgery. However the cost of trauma counselling and treatment for the post-operative depression that many patients face is often overlooked.

Fighting depression

Depression strikes some 25% of all cancer patients and impacts negatively on their recovery. It suppresses the patient’s immune system and affects the body’s ability to fight the disease. Patients suffer from depression independently of the stage or grading of their cancer. According to Booysen patients fighting both depression and cancer feel distressed, tend to have trouble with everyday tasks, and often cannot follow medical advice.

“It is of vital important to have a risk product ensuring that your clients not only get reconstructive surgery, but that both your clients and their families have access to a comprehensive 24-hour network of assistance both during and after the event. To have someone there when the what-to-do and where-to-from-here moments overwhelm your client is invaluable,” he says.

Massive payouts

Today’s major risk insurers offer a number of bolt-on benefits to their standard dread disease and disability policies. The importance of adequate dread disease for your client is highlighted by Old Mutual’s 2010 payout statistics. The life insurer paid out R2.6 billion – or R10.5 million each and every workday – on risk cover (death, disability and critical illness) claims through 2010.

The statistics also confirm that as much as R53 million was paid out even before the insured’s first premium was received. “Knowing that you will be covered fully in the event of disability or ill health, and that your family will be taken care of should you pass away unexpectedly, provides peace of mind,” says Booysen. He observed that provided your client has disclosed all relevant information pertaining to the cover, and the claims criteria are met, 100% of the cover amount will be paid.

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