Preparing for the worst is the best for you and your family

Considering Disability and Severe Illness Cover

If a global pandemic reminds us anything, it’s that our mortality is vulnerable and that life is short and precious.

Perhaps you have already planned for the possibility of an untimely death, but what about if you were unable to work because of an illness or injury? In addition, there are various expenses to consider, such as treatment, medication, rehabilitation, moderations to the home, or a caregiver.

These bills can quickly add up. In 2020 alone, insurers like Momentum paid out R486 million in disability claims, while Liberty reported R62 million towards critical care and R109 million to lump sum disability payouts. When it comes to the leading causes of severe illness in South Africa, cancer and cardiovascular come out top, with COVID-19 falling into the respiratory grouping (which accounted for 19% of Momentum’s death claims in 2020). Stroke and heart conditions are also common in South Africa, and there are also rare diseases to consider; many of which are incurable and can be costly to manage.

Bearing this in mind, it’s important to consider specific insurances for severe illness and disability, because these are not necessarily covered by one’s normal medical aid cover. (Most medical aids only pay out for part of the costs associated with severe illness such as cancer, heart attack, or strokes, leaving the rest of the expense for you to cover.)
Neither is it the case that only older people are affected – major illness can affect people of all ages, as can disability from an accident or unforseen rare condition.

And for those who might already have disability or severe illness cover, it’s reaching that time of year when you might be considering switching insurance – especially as some insurers are now even offering paybacks for those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.


Disability can be caused by illness or injury, and can limit your physical or mental abilities, or both, which might include mobility and ability to work and function, whether temporarily or permanently.

Besides the financial pressures of medical bills and loss of income, there are also the added requirements for rehabilitation therapy and equipment (wheelchairs, prosthetics), and even home alterations to consider. This can add financial burden to families and sometimes requires full-time care-giving.

What kind of cover you can get for this:

Lumpsum Disability Cover pays out a fixed cover amount if you are permanently unable to work due to an illness or injury. The lump sum payout can be used to pay off your bond, any other debt you may have or make any adjustments to your home.

Income protection is designed to replace lost income when you are unable to work (temporarily or permanently) due to injury or illness. It is aimed at compensating the insured for financial losses caused directly by the inability to work, and help with the following:

  • Maintaining your standard of living.
  • Buying groceries and other everyday items.
  • Continuing to pay your rent/mortgage.

Severe Illness – also known as Dread Disease cover or Critical Illness:

A debilitating or life threatening illness, whether terminal or not, can usually be managed well with the right care and with access to the right treatment, thanks to advancements in medicine.

The ‘big four’ referred to when it comes to dread disease insurance include: cancer, stroke, heart attacks, and coronary bypass graft surgery. Other illnesses to consider that may or may not be covered include kidney failure, major organ transplants, chronic liver failure, loss of sight, rheumatoid arthritis and respiratory failure.

It’s important to note, however, that in order to qualify for this kind of cover, it takes into account your health history, any hereditary disease, lifestyle, and your current age and health status.

There are two categories of severe illness cover:

  1. Severity-based cover: The policy pays benefits based on the level of severity of your medical condition or event. For example, the size of the benefit will differ where you suffer a minor stroke as opposed to a major stroke. Severity-based cover tends to be cheaper.
  2. Diagnosis-based cover: The Diagnosis-based cover will pay the full benefit, provided that certain medical criteria are met. This type of insurance, therefore, tends to be more expensive.

While insurances like life cover and medical aid are important, disability and severe illness cover are useful in avoiding potential financial hardship for your family while you are still alive. It’s recommended as a way to take responsibility for your own wellness and the wellbeing of your families into the future, preparing for the possible .

How to choose the right cover
It is important to talk to your financial adviser regularly. Your adviser will help you determine your income protection needs. Contact us and let’s help you prepare for the unexpected.

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