Are you covered for a rising age and declining health?
8 Jul, 2024

 

Stephen van Niekerk,  Head: Retail Life Insurance at Momentum

 

Peace of Mind Today, Security Tomorrow: Benefits of Life Insurance as You Age

 

In March 2024, the world was shocked to learn that two British Royal family members were suddenly diagnosed with cancer. According to Stephen van Niekerk from Momentum Life Insurance, this highlighted a universal fact – disease does not discriminate and remains a threat to us all… even royalty. As we all work towards a long and happy retirement, the question must be asked: Are you financially prepared for a critical illness?

 

Medical advancements are a blessing, allowing us to live longer, though not necessarily healthier, lives. However, Stephen points out, this can also present a challenge: the potential for rising health related costs throughout an extended retirement. The question becomes: how can we strategically plan for our future healthrelated needs without jeopardising our retirement savings? After all, living a long life shouldn’t come at the expense of financial security.

 

Understanding the Risks

 

As Stephen points out, even well-planned retirements can be upended by critical illnesses. With age, the likelihood of developing severe health conditions significantly increases. In 2023 alone, more than half of all critical illness claims from Momentum Life Insurance were paid to clients aged 50- and older.

 

“We live our whole lives preparing for a restful and relaxing retirement, but it’s worth understanding the risks we incur as time goes on. Age comes with complications, so we need to ensure we are covered,” says Stephen.

 

Is Medical Aid Sufficient?

 

While many people depend on their medical aid to cover all healthcare costs, there can be limitations. Stephen says medical aid and gap cover is great, and typically covers most in-hospital expenses, but realistically, there are caps and restrictions. “Cancer treatments, for example, have a financial cap, and the costs beyond this are out of pocket. They will generally also only pay for approved treatments and procedures, and even though they might be available elsewhere, experimental treatments typically aren’t covered at all.

 

The financial burden extends beyond hospital stays. Out-of-hospital costs like palliative care, rehabilitation services, and home modifications are often partially covered, or not covered at all by traditional health insurance. These essential services can quickly add up, creating a significant financial strain if not planned for in advance. Without proper provisions, a long life with increasing healthcare needs could erode your retirement savings. In addition, “Medical aid can be costly, especially in retirement, creating a conundrum as the need for cover increases with age. More may need to be done to bridge the gap,” says Stephen.

 

How Life Insurance Can Bridge the Gap?

 

Stephen highlights a worrying trend: people are prioritising investments and retirement provisions over risk protection like life cover and critical illness cover.

 

He suggests a comprehensive approach to managing potential costs associated with critical illnesses, which includes medical aid, gap cover, and at least R1 million in critical illness cover. “Whole-of-life critical illness cover is also strongly recommended, instead of ending it at age 65,” said Stephen.

 

He points out that there are some products on the market which offer ongoing lump sum payments every five years for surviving a qualifying severe critical illness. This benefit is a cost-effective solution to make provision for additional and ongoing funds for a critical illness which has a long-term lifestyle and financial impact.

 

“These benefits are designed to keep you protected as you get older. The ultimate goal is to never let our cover run out, so it pays to be partnered with an insurer who gets that,” says Stephen.

 

At the end of the day, even people who have prepared well for retirement can find their savings depleted by a critical illness. “It’s always worthwhile to consult with an accredited financial adviser to put a holistic financial plan in place.  They can help secure your financial future with proper financial planning and can help in ensuring you enjoy your retirement without additional financial stress,” Stephen concludes.

 

ENDS

Author

@Stephen van Niekerk, Momentum
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