THE MONTH of romance is here, and the hopeless romantics are in full swing. For all the cynical jibes and cheesy grins, Valentine’s Day is a great reminder to celebrate the people we love and who make our lives that much better. It’s an opportunity to express that admiration and care in a way that really says something.
While life insurance may not be at the top of the list when it comes to romance, it’s an expression that goes way beyond fluffy hearts and chocolate treats. Ensuring you can continue to take care of your partner, throughout life’s detours, is an important part of your commitment to one another.
Thank goodness, life is full of adventure. And if we know anything, it’s that life doesn’t run in a straight line. With that freedom comes substantial risk – one many of us grossly underestimate. Seven out of every 10 South Africans will experience at least one injury or illness in their lifetime preventing them from earning an income – or continuing with their daily lives – according to life insurer FMI (a division of Bidvest Life Limited).
“All South Africans should be able to protect their ability to earn their income, whether they’re self-employed or salaried, commission-earners, business owners, or homemakers,” says Elmarie Samuel, Product Marketing Specialist at FMI. “Illness and Disability Cover is not something you may want to think about when you are newly married, but it’s a discussion and ultimately a decision that should start at the onset of married life. You need to consider extending insurance protection to cases where you or your spouse are temporarily incapacitated.”
Protect your spouse
In the past, the focus was on protecting the income of the main breadwinner. But spouses are just as important even if they are not earning an income outside of the home.
According to a survey, it could cost up to R50 000 a month to replace the services provided at no additional cost, by a stay-at-home spouse. If this is you, the impact of not being there, or not being able to perform the essential duties to run a family and household - including lifting children to school and extra murals, supervising homework, cooking and cleaning - has financial implications for the entire family. The replacement cost for such services, even if for a few months, could be overwhelming for many families.
Check your beneficiaries
Make sure an annual review with your insurance broker confirms you and your spouse have appropriate Critical Illness, Disability and Life Cover, and the correct listed beneficiaries. It is also important to note that many Life Insurance policies, especially those taken out through an employer, fail to even nominate a beneficiary. “In this case, payout in the event of a claim takes much longer as the beneficiary has to be traced. While this happens, the money is placed in the deceased’s estate, which then has to be wound up before the funds can be released,” explains Samuel. With a listed beneficiary, the money can be paid directly after the claim has been processed. It is also valuable to know that your married partner, common-law spouse or anyone you care to select can be listed as a beneficiary on a policy.
Last word - wills
As you continue to work hard to protect your income, remember to protect your loved ones too, by ensuring your will is updated regularly to suit your family’s changing circumstances. “A legal professional draws up your will, and an executor carries out the instructions on how you’d best like your assets to be distributed,” adds Samuel.
A simple will includes your personal details and lists any assets (your home, investments and any personal effects) that you would like to leave to your loved ones. If you have young children, you will need to nominate a guardian to take care of them. Remember, the document needs to be signed by yourself and two witnesses to be valid. And don’t forget to keep the document in a safe place. You can also take a Life Income policy that pays your spouse a monthly income while your estate is being wound up.
Choose to put your partner’s needs above anything else, and make this Valentine’s Day mean something for life.
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