The tragic impact of severe family illness
Written by Trevor Keidan on September 28, 2015.
You have probably at some point pondered what would happen if you were to die suddenly – the unsavoury thought crosses the mind of most of us from time to time. There is little you can do to prepare your family emotionally and mentally for a sudden loss but, if you are sensible, you will have protected them as much as possible against the financial consequences of your possible unexpected death by putting in place life insurance. Of course you hope they will never have to use it but if they do, you have the peace of mind of knowing that their immediate expenses will be covered and they won’t be left with huge debts hanging over their heads or having to make significant lifestyle changes at a time when they are least able to cope with it.
So far so good. But have you ever sat down to consider the impact of a severe illness on your family? Most of us push those kind of thoughts to the back of our minds as they are too frightening and unpleasant to reflect upon. As a result far, far fewer of us protect our families against that eventuality, which is pretty crazy when you consider that you are far more likely to suffer from a serious illness such as stroke, heart attack or cancer in the course of your working life than you are to die. I won’t go into detail – no doubt you see the horrifying statistics that appear every day in the press. The only good news is that survival rates for these illnesses are increasing but where does that leave the lucky survivors, not only emotionally and physically, but also in terms of their financial security?
Let’s just imagine for a moment that you, as the breadwinner of your family, suffer a stroke. You are lucky enough to survive but what next? The Stroke Association tells us that half of all stroke survivors have a disability. That could be relatively minor but it could equally be a life changer. You could suffer paralysis, issues with your vision, communication problems, find yourself unable to remember things and concentrate, not to mention the emotional impact which could send you into a spiral of depression. Even if you are able to live a fairly independent life, holding down a job may well be impossible and you could find yourself without an income. That is going to impact on your family in all sorts of ways. You might be forced to downsize if you can’t meet mortgage repayments or your children may have to move from private to state education with all the stress that a change of school can bring.
Figures also show that a third of stroke survivors are dependent on others. Who would that ‘other’ be for you? Often a carer is a family member but if you are an expat, chances are you don’t have lots of family living close by to help and professional carers don’t come cheap. In which case, your savings and retirement fund might have to take a severe hit just to keep your head above water.
You may feel that you are financially secure but losing the ability to work can turn an individual’s fortunes around in a frighteningly small period of time. A severe illness not only depletes your savings but robs you of your most valuable asset, namely you and your potential to earn.
That is why here at Infinity, we see critical illness cover and income protection as two essential foundations of any financial plan. Creating and building wealth are important aspects of financial planning but protecting what you already have is also vital. You can find out more by downloading our free consumer guide to peace of mind insurance, or speak to one of our advisers who can help find the best cover for you.