I'm writing this a few hours after losing another family member to cancer so forgive me if this isn't the usual topical rant that you've become used to reading.
My cousin was just 44 years old. He leaves four children and two grandchildren. He found out he had cancer when his GP referred him to hospital after getting blackouts a few years ago. The cause for the blackouts was a brain tumour. They operated and got out what they could. He then went through chemotherapy for a while and eventually then gave him the all clear. We all felt better.
His condition worsened a few months ago and as a result we feared he’d had a minor stroke but we were told that his medication had caused that. Seems now that they were wrong on that one.
Why am I telling you this? Well here’s my reason. My cousin had no critical illness cover or income protection cover. When he was told he was unable to drive during his early diagnosis, his job as a motor mechanic looked over.
He managed to muddle through and eventually even went back to work – probably too early in hindsight. Whether his early return to work caused his relapse - well who knows?
If my cousin had taken out Critical illness cover, when he was fit and well, it would have paid out, he may not have felt pressured to return to work so early. Income Protection benefits would have paid out too and helped him with the loss of earnings he suffered during his time off work. He had neither.
It’s ironic that last week I attended a ‘Think Tank’ debate with Cover Magazine on the subject of critical illness cover. During the debate Alison from ScotProv made a really good point on the number of claims that the industry has paid to people in situations all too similar, sadly, to that of my cousin. We talked about the size of claims paid being over a billion pounds and felt quite good that we’d helped lots of people to get through difficult times whilst getting a tad angry about the consumer press always going for the odd bad news story.
There is perhaps one area we should have discussed in more detail that we missed. It’s the number of people who suffer from life changing illnesses who have no cover of this type.
I’m sitting here now mulling over how we can make cover cheaper, how we can get more people covered, even if it’s just for the six major conditions that critical illness cover started with.
I know that some providers want to simplify income protection cover too. Sadly, I worry that some providers also don’t really want to. They write lots of income protection business at present –so why change things?
This morning I have a new answer to that question. Do me a favour: if you work for a provider, the next time you have an opportunity to get more people covered for events of this type, take it. Don’t sit there blaming legacy systems or portals for a lack of new product development. They’re all lame excuses.
Until now, this jobs been all about helping customers to mitigate the impact that any future illness has on their family and their financial circumstances. After today, that’s become a bit more personal.
Andy Milburn is IFA Market manager for Progress from Royal Liver.
The views expressed are those of the author and not those of the company he represents.IFAonline
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