Men’s Health Month: Financial wellbeing is just as important as physical and mental health

Men’s Health Month, every June, is dedicated to encouraging South Africa’s men to take charge of their physical and mental health. File photo.

Men’s Health Month, every June, is dedicated to encouraging South Africa’s men to take charge of their physical and mental health. File photo.

Published Jun 26, 2024


According to Bidvest Life’s 2022 Claims Report1, mental illness, which is affecting a growing number of men, was the third-most common reason for claiming on income protection. Cancer was the most common reason for claiming under critical illness, and the fourth most common reason for claiming on income protection, while CANSA reports that prostate cancer is the most common male cancer both globally and locally, and is showing significant increases.

Men’s Health Month, every June, is dedicated to encouraging South Africa’s men to take charge of their physical and mental health by making smarter lifestyle choices and committing to regular check-ups to promote early detection of any developing illness. However, this is only one part of the equation. Financial health is equally crucial, and financial advisers play a critical role in ensuring that their male clients are adequately protected against their most likely risks: injury, illness and critical illness.

Mark Neil, Chief Distribution Officer at Bidvest Life, says that one of the smartest ways to protect your clients is to prioritise income protection. “While a 30-year-old male has only a 15% chance of passing away before the end of his working years, there’s a 91% chance of him being unable to work for a period of two weeks or more during his career.2 That’s why income protection should be the number one priority for every working South African.” Take Bidvest Life policyholder Martin Le Roux* for example.

Martin was diagnosed with major depression and anxiety in May 2023. He claimed on his temporary income protection benefit and received a payout for 106 days until August 2023. When his condition worsened in November 2023, the claim was re-opened, and he received a further payout for an additional 59 days. Despite having claimed on his temporary income protection benefits four times previously, his claim for depression and anxiety was not impacted at all.

Traditionally, critical illness and permanent disability lump sum benefits have been seen as the best way to protect against the impact of major health events. And, while there is a place for lump sum benefits, this approach has a major shortcoming: neither critical illness cover nor lump sum disability cover will pay out for the majority of the injuries or illnesses that prevent your clients from working.

Critical illness cover is often limited to a specific list of serious conditions that will result in a benefit being paid, and lump sum disability cover typically requires a client to be permanently disabled in order to have a successful claim. It is more common than you might assume for someone to be unable to work for months due to a condition that is neither permanent nor included on a critical illness list. Adding income protection benefits will protect your clients against an inability to earn due to illness or injury but, even so, a traditional income protection policy may still not meet all the needs that arise with critical illness diagnoses.

“This is where Critical Illness Income (CI Income) becomes invaluable,” says Neil. “CI Income guarantees uninterrupted monthly payments for a year less your waiting period on diagnosis, regardless of a client’s ability to work. When added to temporary income protection it adds 30% to the insured salary to be paid out. Furthermore, it requires only one round of paperwork, eliminating the need for ongoing admin when clients are already ill, and provides financial stability during challenging times.”

CI Income is also more affordable than traditional critical illness cover, making it a practical addition to any income protection policy.

Bidvest Life policyholder Trevor Mkhize* was diagnosed with stage 1 testicular cancer in January 2023. Following surgery, it was recommended that he take three weeks off work. However, his temporary income protection benefit boosted with CI Income paid out for 365 days at 130% of his insured salary. This enabled him to take the necessary time off to recover without worrying about paying his monthly expenses.

Neil says that these stories emphasise just how critical it is for advisers to ensure their clients have the right cover to meet their real needs and risks. With the appropriate cover in place, not only are your clients protected against their greatest risks, but they have claim certainty too. “As a financial adviser, one of the greatest comforts you can provide your clients is the confidence that they can take the time off work they need to focus on their recovery, without the financial burden of losing their income.”