Women who stay at home to run the household and look after the children do not earn a salary, but this doesn’t mean they don’t contribute financially to the family. 

If you, as a stay-at-home mom, added up what it would cost you to outsource child care, transportation for your children, cleaning, laundry, cooking and shopping, you’ll have an idea of how much you contribute financially to the household.

Couples often overlook this in their financial and insurance planning. As a result, many families don’t have adequate insurance to cover the stay-at-home spouse for death, disability and dread disease.

Certain jobs are associated with a higher risk of developing particular critical illnesses. But this doesn’t mean that women who stay at home aren’t at risk for all the major causes of death and critical illness. 

Have you calculated the cost of treating cancer, which is the most common critical illness for women? First, there’s the in-hospital treatment, which your medical scheme should cover to a certain extent, but it’s important to pay attention to exactly what you’re covered for compared with the actual cost of treatment. Most medical schemes provide, on average, total annual cover of about R200 000, but it can cost as much as R2 million to treat cancer.  

Cancer treatments are developing faster than medical schemes can keep up with, which means the latest treatments may not yet be covered by your medical scheme. This is where dread disease insurance and gap cover can play a critical role.

Besides in-hospital treatments, you’ll also face significant costs out of hospital. Most women worry about who will take care of their children if they become ill, but they should also be thinking about who will take care of them, and where the extra income will come from to pay these caregivers? We at PSG often see women falling into depression because they did not plan for this, and they may incur more expenses to treat their depression. 

Have a plan

Don’t underestimate your value and the risk you carry. I am challenging women to take a minute to recognise their value and ensure they have an appropriate financial and insurance plan in place in case the unthinkable happens. It is never too late to consult an adviser who can help you identify your risks and advise on how to create a plan that protects you.

In June, a friend became ill, and after a number of tests she was diagnosed with stage-four cancer. She did not expect anything, she did not plan, there was no warning sign whatsoever. She is 40 years old. 

Don’t think this can’t happen to you, and don’t think this problem is confined to the elderly. 

What do the death-claim numbers say?

Recent death-claim numbers released by Momentum, Sanlam and PPS all reflect similar trends and notably correlated numbers. 

  • The number-one major cause of death claims remains cardiovascular-related diseases, with an average of 38%, followed by cancer, with an average of 27%. 
  • If current trends continue, the share of cancers attributable to diabetes – either on its own or combined with being overweight – will increase by 30% for women and by 20% for men in less than 20 years. 
  • Unnatural death claims at Momentum are 9% of the total, of which motor-vehicle accidents are highest, at 40%.  
  • When it comes to critical illness or dread disease, the numbers swop around and cancer is the major cause of death claims, with a shocking average of 50%, compared with the average of 23% for cardiovascular-related illnesses. 
  • Critical illness claims vary by age, with the majority being for people aged 40 to 59 years. 
  • Momentum’s statistics reflect that 64% of critical illness claims are for men, and that most cancer claims are for prostate and breast cancer. 
  • Sanlam’s critical illness claims highlight that most of the claims for women were for cancer, at 77%, of which 31% were for breast cancer and 5% for melanoma.

Lizé Visser is a wealth manager at PSG Wealth.