Don’t neglect critical illness insurance
Written by Lynda Calver on March 01, 2016.
Hong Kong is a great place to live. Expats extol the virtues of the city including its fantastic culinary offerings, the efficiency of its public transport system, a thriving expat community, varied night life, plethora of outdoor activities, cheap taxis in abundance, affordable helpers to cover childcare etc etc.
There is a downside though. The fast-paced lifestyle can be stressful and anxiety-inducing, many people living here have unhealthy diets and air pollution is a serious problem. These factors all contribute towards some hard-to-swallow cancer statistics. I was shocked to read in the South China Morning Post last year that cancer deaths in Hong Kong had risen by 18% over the course of a decade.
As a woman living in Hong Kong, I apparently have a one in five chance of developing cancer before I reach 75 (it’s worse for you, guys, your chance is one in four). In fact, the average age for being diagnosed with cancer is just 43.7! So far I have been fortunate enough to avoid the Big C however, I was unwell last year and had to take several weeks off work as a result. It was nothing major but it did get me thinking about what I would do if I had a more serious ailment which meant that I couldn’t work or earn money to pay the rent and bills. Or course bank loans and borrowing from friends and family are always a possibility to tide me over a difficult period but I hate being in debt and having to rely on others.
This train of thought led me to review the critical illness cover I had in place. Critical illness insurance pays out a tax-free lump sum if you are diagnosed with a specific medical condition which is listed on the policy. Usually policies would include the big hitters such as cancer, stroke and heart attack as well as other debilitating illnesses such as blindness, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. My review led me to the conclusion that I needed to increase my cover to match my outgoings, which had crept up since I had taken out my initial policy.
If you don’t have a critical illness plan then consider how you and your family would cope if you were to suffer from cancer, a brain tumour or a debilitating stroke. These awful illnesses can deplete your savings frighteningly fast even if your treatment is covered by health insurance (which I hope it is!). Recuperation can be long and you stand the best chance of making a full recovery if you can put all your efforts into getting better rather than feeling pressured to return to work to earn and worrying about how you are going to cover your ongoing living expenses. Remember too that the younger and healthier you are, the cheaper a policy will be so don’t leave it too late.
If like me, you have had your policy a while, it makes sense to carry out a review to check whether your cover matches your current situation. Any major changes to your lifestyle such as marriage or becoming a parent will affect the amount of cover you need.
If you’d like to discuss your requirements with an expert, I’d be happy to help. I work with many different insurance providers and can help you compare policies to find the right one for you and your family.