Critical Illness Insurance Is Critical
A difficult time in life can teach you what’s really important. Just ask anyone whose life took a sharp turn when a medical problem was discovered.
First off there are expenses, a difficulty for any family but which are a special challenge for any family who are covered by a limited medical insurance policy or have no insurance at all.
If you have limited medical insurance, there is sometimes just not enough to pay the bills. You could have costs of staying near a clinic while hoping and praying that you will get well.
Some people have family members and friends who have started get well funds to help pay expsenses. But all of this doesn’t answer why there was no critical illness insurance.
This Is Why Critical Illness Insurance Is Important
Critical illness insurance is important as what you are doing is insuring your income , just like you insure your house. You wouldn’t own a house without insurance, so why do you walk around without insurance against a personal catastrophe? You’ll never know anything about expenses until you confront expenses caused by a major illness! From no income coming in to all the savings going out, families can be left in a great bind. Now that you’ve bothered to read this article, call your life insurance broker who sells critical illness insurance and get to know the difficulties you may face. And more positively, how you can solve them.
Critical Illness Insurance The Non-Disclosure Problem
If you’re in the unfortunate position of having to make a claim on your critical illness insurance policy, the last thing you want is insensitive hassle or apparent non co-operation from your insurer. But according to numerous newspaper articles, that’s precisely what’s happening. The core problem is that before they’ll pay out, the insurer will always want to make exhaustive enquiries about your past health record. Whilst you’ll have provided them with lots of similar information when you initially applied for the cover, the insurers will now insist that all the information is rechecked. And if at the time you said you weren’t a smoker, they’ll now want this verified by your doctor.
The reasons are obvious. They’re faced with a big claim, typically way over £100,00, and they want to be certain that you told them the entire truth about your health when you first applied. This means that now you’ve claimed, they’ll crawl over your medical records in great detail checking that you disclosed everything on your application. Every small and apparently insignificant detail will be subject to intense scrutiny. The problem is that their reams of correspondence can be quite upsetting for you.
The insurers defend their procedures saying that they need to be certain that when they accepted the business, you disclosed the full truth about the factors affecting your health. They want to be sure that you didn’t cheat by omitting some information in order to dupe the company into issuing a policy when they otherwise might not, or to help you qualify for a lower premium. Either way, non-disclosure as they call it, is cheating and a valid reason for them refusing your claim. It doesn’t even matter if the information you omitted ultimately had nothing to do with the illness that occasioned the claim. The insurers position is that every piece of information you provide was used to work out your premium and any omission affects the calculation.
The insurers are particularly distrustful if the claim arrives within the policy’s first five years. Any claim arising during this period is classed as an “early claim” and the insurers are particularly watchful for policyholders who took out the critical illness insurance already suspecting that that they were already ill.
The problem is that all this intense scrutiny attracts a very bad press. If you’re very sick and distressed, the last thing you want is lots’ of questions and high-handed hassle from your insurer.
There’s undoubtedly a conflict here. If they are to neutralize the bad press, the insurance companies need to work much harder at softening the enquiry process and they must lease much more closely with their claimants. Insurers must present a much softer center at what is a most distressing time for their claimants.
All this adverse PR has had two effects on the critical illness insurance market. Applicants have apparently been favoring insurers who publish the lowest rejection rates and others have withdrawn from making any application.
In practice, avoiding insurers who publish high refusal rates has little benefit. That’s because the published figures can be misleading. The latest figures show that Scottish Equitable Protect has refused to pay out on 28% of critical illness claims followed closely by Friends Provident at 25%. If you compare these figures with Scottish Provident at 13.7%, many potential policyholders can be forgiven for favoring Scottish Provident. But that’s not necessarily the best decision.
The problem with interpreting these figures is that the figures themselves can be distorted by how long the insurer has been active in the critical illness market. As rejection rates are highest with policies that have only run for a few years, then companies that are new to the critical illness market will automatically have the highest rejection rates. This leaves companies such as Guardian Financial Services looking good with a rejection rate of just 10%. The truth is that the Guardian has been in the market for over 15 years and has a mature book of business.
And it’s a pity that all this negative publicity has undermined confidence in critical illness insurance. In our view, this insurance plays an important part in protecting family finances but people are being deterred from buying it, leaving their family unit exposed if they become seriously ill. After all, if the main income provider is taken seriously ill, the family’s income can plummet. That means that the tax-free lump sum paid out by these policies can become central to the family’s financial survival.
Our advice is if you think you need critical illness cover press on. But be aware that these policies vary a lot in the cover they offer – so straight price comparisons aren’t really meaningful. Basic plans will cover one or more of the most serious conditions but comprehensive plans cover many more – for example:
Aorta graft surgery
Benign brain tumour
Chronic lung disease
Coronary artery by-pass surgery
Heart valve replacement or repair
HIV or AIDs from an assault, blood transfusion, occupational duties or accident
Keyhole heart surgery
Loss of independent existence
Loss of limbs
Loss of speech
Major organ transplant
Motor Neurone disease
Progressive Supranuclear Palsy
Third degree burns
Total and Permanent Disability
Cover for children
This complexity means that you really need independent advice. There are plenty of web sites that can help you. Just search for “critical illness insurance” and make sure you can talk to an adviser before you buy.
Critical Illness Needn’t Hurt Your Bank Account, Too
In the time it takes you to read this sentence, the bills from a critical illness may have forced yet another American to file for bankruptcy. It could be as a result of their own illness or a loved one’s, but the result’s the same: Half of all bankruptcies are due to serious illness, according to a recent Harvard study, and-of those-75 percent were forced to file despite having health insurance.
One new option consumers have to help cover all expenses associated with critical illness is called, appropriately, Critical Illness Insurance. This specialized insurance provides a lump-sum payment should a subscriber suffer from certain specific critical conditions.
Right now, one of the few companies offering such insurance is Stonebridge Life Insurance Company. However, experts say that as Americans continue to survive critical ailments that were fatal only a few years ago, the need for the insurance is increasing. Stonebridge Life Insurance Company gives policyholders a one-time payment of up to $50,000 as soon as they’re diagnosed with a covered cancer, stroke, paralysis or a heart attack. The payment is intended to help people meet basic expenses, such as mortgage payments, car insurance, groceries, child care-even ballet lessons.
“Many people aren’t aware of the financial consequences of surviving a critical illness, especially if they’re unable to work for an extended period of time while they recover,” said Marlene Jupiter, author and expert on personal finance. “Now that medical progress and early detection are helping more people live through serious illnesses, people need to plan for how they’re going to financially survive the aftermath.”
For monthly premiums as low as $20, Critical Illness Insurance from Stonebridge Life is a direct-to-consumer product offering lump-sum payment options of $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 and $50,000. As an added benefit, the plan offers a return of premium option. Customers who sign up before the age of 50 and select this option may receive their paid premiums in full if they don’t make a claim before age 65.
“There is an increasing need for critical illness insurance because it helps close the gap that exists between health and disability plans, making sure that survivors are financially supported throughout their recovery process,” explained Lew Whalen, vice president of Stonebridge.
Criticism of Insurance
Insurance policies work by taking premiums from customers in exchange for baring the risk of certain costly events occurring. For example, if there is one fire in your town each month, everyone could just sit tight and hope their house doesn’t burn down next, or could pitch in and pay an insurance premium each month and this is then used to rebuild the house that burns down. Very simply this is how insurance works. It is a method of spreading a risk over a far wider area, so that it will not be as devastating as if it was concentrated solely on the person who experiences the loss.
There are a few problems with this however and they attract much criticism. One criticism is that by taking on the risk for people, insurance makes people take greater risks than they otherwise would. For example, if you know your home contents are insured against burglary, then you may not be as careful about locking the doors and windows every time you leave the house. Or if your bike is insured, you may not bother to lock it as much as if it wasn’t insured. In the insurance industry, this problem is known as the moral hazard.
Insurance companies protect themselves against this by inserting exclusion clauses into their contracts, which remove their obligation to pay out if the insured performs or fails to perform certain stated actions. They might for instance require that you fit smoke detectors, or use good locks on your doors, or other things that will reduce the risk of the insured against event occurring.
There are also certain risks that you are not allowed to insure against in most countries. This is first of all because it would be too difficult for the insurance companies to quantify, but mostly it’s because they are risks that governments want the person at risk to bare himself or herself. They generally apply to multinational companies.
There is also the criticism that insurance policies are far too complex for the vast majority of consumers to understand. It is simply unreasonable to expect the customer to understand lengthy documents that have been drafted by not one, but usually teams of specialized lawyers. This can lead to consumers being misled or buying insurance policies on unfavorable terms. To get around this, most countries regulate the content of insurance contracts to ensure that they remain fair to consumers.
There is also the option of using the services of an insurance broker to shop the market for you
Deciding if you need Life Insurance?
Most people are aware of how life insurance works and what are the events and dangers that it is designed to protect against. They may also have family commitments and people who they provide for and know that some sort of life insurance would protect their family financially, if something were to happen to them. However, it is still often a very difficult decision to make if you are trying to decide whether or not you need life insurance.
Life insurance is a big commitment financially speaking. The premium can vary in cost but can be considerable, then there is also the issue that life insurance often extends over many years, even decades. This means that not only are you committing to pay the premium for this year, but also for many years into the future. There are not many people who can say with certainty what their earnings will be in ten or fifteen or twenty years time.
There are also early termination penalties, which means if you want to end the policy before the expiration of the entire term, you will be financially penalized. This is generally more relevant for life assurance but can also apply to life insurance if your rate has been calculated on the condition that you remain insured for so many years into the future.
If you have life assurance, then it will also be a method of saving for the future. This is a very popular concept, especially these days with the growing concern about the state of pension funds, but it again deserves careful consideration. There are many ways to save for the future, and by deciding to do so by way of a life assurance policy still entails deciding that life insurance is something that you want and are willing to pay for. If you do not need life insurance, then there are probably more efficient ways of saving for retirement than with life assurance, which places a proportion of your savings against the insurance aspect of the policy.
In general, most people will really only be considering life insurance if they have a family to support. This can be a spouse and generally children. However, situations frequently change, people get divorced, and children always grow up and become independent. If your family situation is likely to change, you should familiarize yourself with the ways you can end the policy early and what penalties would apply. However, if you have a young family and are concerned about their financial security for the future, then life insurance will be a great opportunity for you to provide for these concerns.