The alarm goes off — ugh, time to get up and go to work. As you give your pillow a final fond squeeze, you think how sweet it would be to stay in bed and not go to work. But have you ever stopped to imagine what would happen if you suddenly couldn’t work? You have life insurance to protect your family in case you get sick and die, but what if you get sick — and live? The costs of treatment, care and inability to work can ravage a family’s finances, yet according to a recent poll conducted by TD Insurance, 65% of Canadian parents don’t have critical illness insurance. Let’s look at 7 famous women who survived life-threatening breast cancer and see what you can do to protect yourself and your family.
1) Be on guard
Vigilance is the price of freedom, as the saying goes. According to Dave Minor, Vice President of TD Insurance, “The best time to buy critical illness is now, when you are healthy, as you never know when you might get sick.” Statistics show that about one in two Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime and 1.6 million Canadians currently have heart disease or have had a stroke. Olivia Newton-John discovered breast cancer in 1992 through a self-exam and now actively encourages women to be proactive about their breast health.
2) Fill the gap
Critical illness insurance is designed to fill the financial gap if you must take time off work to take care of your health. Policies usually pay out after 30 days of being diagnosed and may have a 90 day waiting period from when you sign-up. Most policies pay a lump sum benefit and you can use this money however you need it: for mortgage payments, household bills or specialized treatments and healthcare. Sheryl Crow put her career on hold after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 after a routine mammogram.
3) Focus your energy
Beverly Beuermann-King is a stress and wellness specialist. She says, “As parents, we often spend more time considering the needs of our children and those around us and put our own health on the back burner. Though we have the best of intentions, we may avoid thinking about what would happen if we became seriously ill and what impact that may have on our ability to take care of our children. Critical illness insurance can ensure that we are financially able to make ends meet and spend our needed energy focused on recuperating.” Edie Falco (aka “Nurse Jackie”) was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. She took time off work until she went into remission, then went on to adopt two kids.
4) Reduce anxiety
According to Beverly, “We know that supportive families have a beneficial impact on the patient’s response to treatment. They act as a buffer for the patient’s anxiety and serve as valuable resources for patient care. However, if the family anxiety is high, they may be unable to support the patient and may transfer their anxiety to him or her.” Indeed, “Peace of mind and protection of your family’s lifestyle are the two top benefits of critical illness insurance,” says Dave Minor. Christina Applegate chose to have a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in 2008.
5) Choose carefully
Compare critical illness insurance policies to make sure yours has the features most important to you. “The biggest difference between policies is the number of illnesses that are covered,” says Dave Minor. “The basic and lowest cost plans cover the three most common illnesses: heart attack, stroke and cancer. However, you can find policies that cover up to 24 illnesses.” Cynthia Nixon (Miranda Hobbes to her SATC fans) whose mother is also a breast cancer survivor, was diagnosed through a mammogram in 2006.
6) Nothing is free
As you shop around for policies, make sure you read the fine print. Some benefits seem advantageous, but not if you end up paying a higher premium than you otherwise would. For example, ‘return of premium’ policies give you back some or all of the premiums you paid if you never make a claim. The premiums are higher to offset the cost of returning them. As Dave Minor says, “Nothing is free.” Fashion designer Betsey Johnson found breast cancer lurking under a saline breast implant that she had removed in 2002.
7) Each policy has its place
When someone has a serious illness or suffers a heart attack, getting better is the first thing on the mind of every family member. Life insurance is important in the case of death, but critical illness insurance is the policy that is there for you while you’re on the road to recovery. After all, how will you feel if you ‘kick the sick’ only to face financial ruin? Both types of insurance have a place in a well-planned estate. Trusting her gut and getting a second opinion was the lesson Kylie Minogue learned when she found out she had breast cancer in 2005, after an initial misdiagnosis.
The good news
Despite the high statistics of illness, the good news is that the probability of recovery is better than ever. “Thanks to medical advancements, many people are surviving critical illnesses and living longer, fulfilling lives with their families,” says Dave Minor. And just like taking your vitamins and going to the gym, the key to critical illness care is to be preventative. Get your policy in place before you need it. “We all know someone right now, who has suffered or is suffering from a heart attack, stroke or cancer,” says Dave. “This in itself should be your call to action.”