Stefan Stander, general manager - Retail Affluent Segment, Old Mutual Namibia.
Stefan Stander, general manager - Retail Affluent Segment, Old Mutual Namibia.

Severe illness – be prepared

Understand insurance options
A dread disease diagnosis like a cancer, heart attack, stroke and many others may have a serious impact on your quality of life, and you need to ask yourself the question: What would your finances look like if this happened to you?
Stefan Stander
The sudden emergence of the pandemic was devastating.

Almost overnight, many Namibians became acutely aware of the fragility of life. This reality suddenly brought into question whether we would be able to sustain our quality of life due to the potential long-term effects of the disease.

For those with some form of health insurance or life cover, the "knee jerk" reaction was to fervently unearth their life policy documents and medical aid schedules to peruse the fine print and benefits and to inundate insurers with queries. Some clients were left reeling when they discovered that they were either not covered or undercovered.

The pandemic therefore brought into perspective a pertinent issue – the lack of cover for the ‘big four illnesses’ – cancer, stroke, heart attack and coronary bypass – which are much more common across society.





Old Mutual Illness Insurance

Illness insurance covers the insured person who suffers from and meets the requirements of a qualifying severe illness as confirmed by its medical officer.

The insurance pays out if you have a severe illness in accordance with the standardised critical illness definitions. These illnesses include cancer, a heart attack or stroke, and many other diseases that could affect your cardiovascular, central nervous, gastrointestinal, and respiratory systems. There is also coverage for endocrine diseases, HIV/Aids, sensory systems, trauma, lifestyle, and autoimmune diseases.

A severe illness may carry a high risk of mortality or may negatively impact your quality of life and daily functions. There are functional impairments related to the severe illness that also qualify under the Premium Protection Functional Impairment Benefit.

The severe illness cover benefit will pay a percentage of the cover amount, which depends on the severity of the illness.

Old Mutual’s Illness Insurance pays a single tax-free amount ranging from N$100 000 to N$6 million if you have a severe illness. This payout can be used to cover rehabilitation costs, travel expenses to treatment centres, modifications to your home or car and day-to-day expenses while taking time off from work to recover.



So how does it work?



With the help of a financial adviser, choosing the right cover for serious illnesses can be smoothly facilitated in three quick and easy steps:



1. Choose your cover such as Old Mutual’s Illness Insurance.

2. Enrich your cover by opting for extra benefits such as top-up benefit, mild illness benefit, child illness benefit, for women’s benefit or returning illness benefit, and;

3. Choose your add-ons such as cashback* or premium protection, which come at an extra cost.



Myths about severe illness cover



So why don’t people opt for illness insurance? The first myth is that you only need it when you are older, such as in your 50s and older. However, Old Mutual’s claim statistics for 2021 found that in men, we see claims from the age of 22, and for women, from the age of 20. It is safe to say that anyone at any age can be afflicted with a severe illness.

Many young adults under the age of 25 are students or in entry-level occupations with low income thresholds, and therefore customers may elect to take out illness insurance for their adult children so that the child will be the insured person but the parent will be the owner and premium payer.

The second myth is that medical aid pays for all costs. Medical aid cover pays specifically for the treatment of medical conditions, and payment is mostly subject to annual payment limits.

Gap cover is intended to provide cover towards the shortfall of treatment costs, which are not covered by your medical aid and is specifically designed to supplement your existing medical aid cover.

Illness insurance plays a different role. It helps you to take care of your financial responsibilities while you focus on recovery. These three actually complement each other and can all fit into your financial plan.



How much cover do I need?

There is no exact science when determining what level of coverage you would need, but a reputable financial adviser will be able to assist you with a full needs analysis.

Having a well-informed partner to help you navigate the financial and administrative complexities of the financial services industry is indispensable.

In the case of illness insurance, the adviser will consider, for example, your age, general health status, and lifestyle factors in order to predict how much you may need. It is also prudent to factor in your quality of life at the time of diagnosis, during treatment and recovery, and post-recovery when deciding on the quantum of cover you may require.



Lifeline

When Rienie Scheepers was diagnosed with cancer, she experienced the shock of being diagnosed with a severe illness firsthand. "I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it was a massive shock. Cancer can happen to anyone and has a big financial impact," she said. "Through Old Mutual’s cover for severe illness, I was able to work through this shock without having to worry about the financial impact. This cover gave me peace of mind," she said.

Ideally, you, in consultation with your financial adviser, should ensure that your severe illness cover increases annually in line with inflation so that the value of your benefit will not reduce over time and that, if you ever need to claim, your payout has held its value in real terms.

In the event of a big health emergency, such as cancer, a heart attack, or a stroke, your illness insurance could be the only thing standing between you and financial ruin.

Many people assume they’re fully protected with a standard health insurance plan. However, with the exorbitant costs of treating life-threatening illnesses, it is also important for a customer to have medical aid, gap cover, and illness insurance incorporated into their plan, since they all serve a different purpose and work differently when you’re diagnosed.

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Allgemeine Zeitung 2023-02-08

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