This is according to insurance claim statistics from long term insurance provider, Altrisk, who said that South African women remain significantly underinsured when it comes to securing their financial stability during a critical illness.
In 2013, 23 per cent of Altrisk’s female clients claimed for breast cancer while 25 per cent accounted for cardiac conditions.
The age band of women with the highest number of critical illness, life and disability claims are between the ages of 41 and 55, which is considered the prime of a woman’s life and working career.
It is also the time when women are most reliant on their income for financial security and most likely to have significant liabilities.
Currently, breast cancer is still the leading cause of claims with heart disease and strokes not far behind. Altrisk said it also noticed an increase in early cancer claims among younger women over the past five years.
“The emphasis on pre-emptive screening and early diagnosis and treatment cannot be emphasised enough in the fight against breast cancer. Early detection and treatment of breast cancer are important factors in winning the battle and surviving with less extensive, invasive surgery and with your finances intact,” said André Froneman, product specialist at Altrisk.
“The reality is that you need to have cover in place when you are younger. This is the most productive time of your life, when you are most reliant on your income to meet financial obligations, take care of your family and secure a comfortable future.”
He added that many women today are equal contributors to household income while some are breadwinners and play a crucial role as the primary caregiver in their households.
“Make sure that you understand the financial consequences of what could happen if you were to contract a serious illness, and have a plan in place should this occur, because for most people insurance is the only way to manage the risk cost effectively. The emphasis on breast health, especially during October as Breast Health Awareness month is not without good reason.”
On a positive note, early detection tests have meant that cancer survival rates have increased. Almost two out of every three women with breast cancer survive the disease beyond 20 years, compared to less than half in the 1990’s.
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“No one knows what the future holds and whether you could face a health crisis in future, so make sure that should the unthinkable happen, you have a financial plan in place that makes it possible for you to focus on your recovery, rather than on how to deal with the consequences of a loss of income during your illness,” said Froneman.
“The real challenge in surviving a disability or illness is being able to provide a future income for yourself and your family, and this is where a financial advisor can help you to develop a financial plan.”