In South Africa, one in nine women are diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and breast cancer is the most diagnosed. Picture: Archives
JOHANNESBURG - In South Africa, one in nine women are diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and breast cancer is the most diagnosed. It's common knowledge that the impact of a critical illness is more than just financial: it's a life-changing, emotionally taxing experi-ence that affects the whole family.

Talking to women who are battling breast cancer and other serious illnesses, and to their families, prompted insurer FMI, a division of Bidvest Life, to design critical illness cover that addresses real needs.

FMI's chief executive Brad Toerien says that medical costs for serious illnesses add up quickly, taking account of treatments, hospital stays and travelling expenses.

“Our critical illness cover pays you 130% of your monthly income for 12 months when you're diagnosed with a critical illness, regardless of whether or not you go back to work.”

Structuring cover to pay out monthly, instead of in one lump sum, is an important benefit. “The vast majority of disability cover (77%) currently sold in South Africa is lump-sum cover,” says Toerien.

“But the challenge with a lump sum payout is that it's impossible to know how much cover you need when you buy your policy, and there are clear investment, longevity and inflationary risks.

"We believe income benefits are easier to understand and plan for, because they mimic the income stream you are trying to replace.”

Added benefits

The cover comes with added benefits. All FMI policyholders get access to a medical second opinion. Further, women battling breast cancer receive an additional payout if they decide to have breast reconstruction surgery after a mastectomy.

FMI also offers counselling to help the client's entire family cope with the trauma and stress, and logistical/household support, because day-to-day responsibilities don't stop when you are sick.

Toerien says that South Africans grossly underestimate the risk of serious illness or injury.

The bottom line, he says, is that your income enables your lifestyle and your future dreams, and is core to you and your family's financial future.

PERSONAL FINANCE