It's time to think about protecting our family as best we can
OUR news screens have been filled with only one story lately – but are we in danger of forgetting the bigger picture, when it comes to our health?
Even as we all go a bit lockdown loo-lah, we have to think of protecting our family from the financial fallout of other diseases which seem to have taken a back seat at the current time.
Here are some new facts, hot off the presses at Macmillan Cancer Support and other experts, about the three main critical illnesses: cancer, stroke, and heart attack, and what it could cost if you get sick.
Macmillan say there are 363,000 new cases of cancer in the UK every year. That's one new diagnosis every five minutes. Their research shows that cancer adds an average of £570 a month to your household bills.
Cancer is the big one, but strokes are very common too: there's one every five to 10 minutes, over 100,000 a year.
As for heart problems, in a population of nearly 67m there are 1.5m men and 850,000 women living with coronary heart disease, and someone is taken to hospital with a heart attack every five minutes.
The good news is that, due to medical advances, seven out of 10 of us will now survive a heart attack, compared to just three out of ten fifty years ago. However a rising survival rate makes thinking about financial impacts even more essential.
Exactly how will your household income be affected if you get sick or even worse? The Association of British Insurers (ABI) tell us that most (60 per cent) working families would lose a third of their family income if the main earner had to stop work, and for 40 per cent of families, household income would actually be halved.
We are not well prepared in terms of savings, either. We know that when a main breadwinner stops work, the average UK household has 32 days of cash reserves to pay our bills, before we get into difficulties.
So how do we prepare ourselves, given these numbers?
In financial services, as our regular readers will know, another word for life and health insurances is ‘family protection'. This is because they protect your family's lifestyle, if something happens that results in the loss of your income. God knows, your family have enough to worry about if you are struck down, without having to fret about poverty as well.
Obviously life insurance is the best-known family protection product, but it's not to insure our own wellbeing – after all, we're never going to see the money! We don't buy life insurance because we're going to die – we buy it because our loved ones are going to live.
Our children are particularly vulnerable to the loss of our income. Research by Aviva told us that one child in 29 will lose a parent before they grow up. That's just about one in every classroom.
However, did you know that death is not the main threat, in your working years? If you lose your income during your working life, it's much more likely to be through illness. We know that a quarter of men and one-fifth of women will be off long-term sick at some stage, due to a critical illness, before they retire.
The solution is critical illness (CI) insurance. CI insures you against being struck by the core conditions of cancer, stroke, heart attack, tumour, MS, and major heart surgery. Most policies cover much more, with an average of 34 diseases. A CI policy pays a once-off tax-free lump sum that could clear your mortgage, or cover medical costs while you recover.
Single mums are particularly exposed to loss of income, as their uptake levels of the family protection insurances is particularly low. Only 13 per cent of mums have CI, and only two in five have life insurance.
Critical illness is not just a problem for the elderly. The average age for being hit by a critical illness is 47, according to Legal & General. If you'd had your first child at 30, that would deprive your child of your income just as they come 17, perhaps with great plans to go to college.
MacMillan also tell us that more than half of us will get some form of cancer in our lives, but Legal and General say that less than 10 per cent of us have insured our health.
That total UK population figure of nearly 67 million means that, while 33 million of us are likely to get cancer, only six million of us have done anything to prepare for it.
If recent months have focussed your mind on how vulnerable we are to being unexpectedly incapacitated, is it time to think about protecting our family as best we can? Is it time to think about family protection insurance today?
:: Michael Kennedy and Shaun Doherty are independent financial advisers and pensions specialists, and can be contacted on 028 71886005. Further information on Facebookat “Kennedy Independent Financial Advice Ltd” or via www.mkennedyfinancial.com