Nobody wants to think about getting a critical illness, but the impact of a diagnosis like this is undeniably life-changing. Physically, emotionally and financially straining, it’s a very challenging period of life. Despite our efforts to lead healthy lifestyles, the reality is that anyone can get a critical illness at any age, and it’s not just limited to older generations.
In a recent study by insurance company Zurich, the average age of claimants for critical illness cover was a big surprise and emphasised the need to start thinking about health and finances earlier. So, how can you put measures in place that will help you to protect your family and home should the worst happen? Or maybe it’s time to start the conversation with your children to ensure they are prepared for the repercussions a critical illness can have. We look at the stats and share a few useful tips and facts.
“Prepare for the worst but hope for the best” – Benjamin Disraeli
Critical illness at any age
35 – the average age of a claim for heart surgery
There have been a few well-documented cases in the news where younger people have suffered a heart attack, including footballers during games. Although it’s always wise to lead a healthy lifestyle as much as possible, sadly, heart defects are often not picked up until an incident like a heart attack occurs. Other than your health, the main risk is financial when a critical illness or serious illness occurs. As a result of the diagnosis, you’ll probably need time off work, which will impact your income. So, ensuring you have some protection in place is vital, especially if you have a young family and are the main earner with a big mortgage.
50 – the average age of a stroke-related claim
A stroke can occur for various reasons, and some people experience a stroke much younger than 50 years. Common causes include blood clots or high blood pressure, and strokes can be triggered by being overweight, smoking, drinking excessive alcohol, or lacking exercise.
There is a helpful acronym to help you spot and respond to someone who has had a stroke – FAST:
- F – face; check to see if they can smile or if one side of their face is drooping.
- A – arms; is there any weakness, and does one arm drift down when both are raised?
- S – speech; is their speech slurred, and can they repeat a short sentence?
- T – time to get help; this is your sign that it’s time to ring 999.
38 – 58 – average age band for cancer claims
It’s a well-known stat that one in two of us will experience cancer in our lifetime. But the average age of critical illness claimants for cancer may be much younger than you think. Below is a list of average ages for claimants (Zurich):
- 38 – testicular cancer
- 39 – leukaemia
- 44 – ovarian and cervical cancer
- 45 – lymphoma (Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma)
- 47 – breast cancer and melanoma (type of skin cancer)
- 50 – renal cancer (cancer of the kidneys or renal cells)
- 52 – bowel cancer (NHS screening starts at 56 years)
- 57 – lung cancer (biggest cancer killer for men and women)
- 58 – prostate cancer
Some of the ages above are startling and highlight that critical illness at any age can occur. So it’s important to ensure you have the right type of protection in case the worst happens and you or someone in your family become critically ill. By taking out a critical illness policy, you can protect your family from a financial perspective. This type of cover pays out a tax-free lump sum, which can be used to help pay for your treatment or towards your mortgage payments and household bills. It takes the financial pressure off and allows you to focus on your main priority, your health.
Always make sure you understand exactly what your critical illness insurance covers. There will be a list of specified conditions covered by the policy, or ask our team for advice.
Critical illness, at any age, can knock you for six and turn your world upside down. Of course, when you’re experiencing such a difficult time, the last thing you’ll want to worry about is your financial affairs. So being prepared with suitable protection in place will give you greater peace of mind that your family will be financially secure should the worst happen.
If you are worried about the impact of a critical illness and how this might affect your family, get in touch to speak to our independent financial planners for advice.