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    We often avoid talking about illness. It’s a scary thought – being diagnosed with an illness, unable to work and the effect on our wealth, lifestyle and family. But it’s important to think about and if you do, you’ll be better prepared if illness does strike.

    If you’re seriously affected by an illness or injury, Critical Illness insurance pays you a lump sum to use however you like – access additional therapies or treatments, alter your home or pay off the mortgage. It’s a safety net for you and your family so you’ll have the resources you need to keep living as you choose, instead of adding money worries to an already stressful time.

    There are a few things to understand about critical illness insurance. Here’s what you need to know.

    What about our healthcare system?

    In New Zealand, we’re lucky to have excellent healthcare available when we need it without a large bill at the end. Because of this, many Kiwis think that they don’t need critical illness insurance. The truth is, there are limitations to our health system – diagnosed with cancer or have a heart attack and you’ll get treatment under the public health system to treat the immediate issue – but that’s it.

    There’s very little support to help you deal with the after-effects of the illness or injury. Perhaps you need a wheelchair to get around, but your home isn’t suitable. Or you can’t work for a long time – very few of us would have our lifestyles covered by the sickness benefit. You also have little say over what treatments and facilities you can access for free. You’ll pay for anything that isn’t funded, even if your doctor thinks it’s the right treatment.

    Critical Illness insurance closes those gaps. You’ll be covered for unforeseen illnesses such as heart attack, stroke, cancer, organ transplant, loss of limbs, arthritis and loss of hearing, speech or eyesight. You’ll have the money you need to choose the right treatments, alleviate financial worries or set yourself up for a more comfortable life.

    What can I use it for?

    Critical Illness insurance pays you a lump sum that you can use to cover extra costs or widen your treatment choices. You may choose to:

    • • Eliminate or reduce your debt
    • • Offset lower levels of income
    • • Pay for private care or additional treatment
    • • Alter your home to better suit your needs
    • • Boost savings for an emergency fund
    • • Do the travel and experiences you’ve been putting off

    What you need to consider

    Before you rush out and choose a Critical Illness policy, there are a few things to consider first:

    Employee benefits

    Does your employer provide you with critical illness cover? If so, look into exactly what type it is. You may need to take out additional cover if your work insurance is limited. Generally, the policies that are offered by your employer under the group plan are inferior than policies available in the market in terms of coverage and benefits.

    Claim time

    To make a claim, you’ll need to provide proof of a diagnosis from a medical professional. If you have a policy through an insurance adviser, they can help you during claim time and alleviate the burden and stress during this time.

    What’s included
          • Breadth of cover – your policy should cover the illnesses you’re concerned about and most commonly claimed under insurance, such as cancer, heart attack and stroke.
          • Terminal illness – ensure that you’re entitled to claim if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness.
          • Total and permanent disability – this is when you are deemed unable to return to work. Whether this is included or not will depend on your policy, but it’s a great added security to have.
          • Severity-based cover – some illnesses are not covered under some policies. Different types of critical illness products cover different numbers of critical illnesses, as listed eligible conditions which may vary from 15 to 65 conditions.
          • Advanced Trauma Covers – some of the trauma covers that are available in the market allow you to claim multiple times on similar medical conditions and do not expire until the age of 100. Normally, you can only claim once on the same medical condition and policies do expire at the age of 75.
    Flexibility and changes

    You should be able to make changes to your policy at a later date, but it depends on your specific circumstances. Before you commit to a policy, check that you can shorten or extend the policy term. You usually can, but you may need to provide medical evidence explaining your reason for changing.

    Life situations change – people get married, divorced or extend their families. So check that you can add or remove a person from your cover. Insurance policies will usually allow this, but it pays to make sure before you sign.

    Can you amend your payments if your financial situation changes? You should be able to swap the frequency of your payments from monthly to fortnightly or vice versa without issue, as long as they are up to date.

    Put safeguards in now for choice in your future

    There’s a lot to consider when looking at Critical Illness insurance policies, but securing one is a smart move to make for your future. Global Finance liaises with insurance companies on your behalf to get you the best deal. We also take a big-picture approach to your personal circumstances and use our expertise in available insurances to advise on the best policy for your family.

    Have a question about insurance? Call us today – we’re here to help.

    **Underwriting criteria and insurer terms T’s and C’s apply