Time to get serious about Serious Illness Cover
Yesterday I had arranged to meet a friend of mine on the south side of the city. To do this I had to travel down the M50 motorway and the first thing I heard when I switched on the radio was that there had been a crash at the famous Red Cow Roundabout and that the traffic was delayed in the northwards direction by over an hour.
The traffic was also bad on the N4 on the approach to the M50. It was particularly heavy and slow moving. On this stretch, you can travel at upwards of 80 kph, but we were reduced to approx. 60 kph. Here I spotted a white car weaving its way through the traffic. The driver, a young professional, was on the mobile. Horns honked in various directions as this driver attempted to get some sort of advantage in the heavy traffic. The car then dived from the outside lane to an exit off the motorway as it became clear just how congested the traffic was up ahead.
Although the traffic on the M50 was still backed up in one direction, by the time I reached it going south the traffic was clear, but slow moving. Again, I met more cars weaving through the traffic, giving some other motorists a fright, as they scurried off in the direction of their destination with as much haste as they could muster. These self-possessed ‘weavers’ seemed to be totally oblivious of the damage they can do to themselves and others as they drive on autopilot.
A TV programme watched regularly in our home is a Channel 4 production called 24 Hours in A & E. It follows twenty-four hours in the emergency room at St. George’s Hospital, of one of the busiest hospitals in London. On that show, we see people coming in and out of hospital all day, every day. Some fall off bikes, slip off roofs any many are involved in car crashes, this A & E sees it all.
What is so interesting about the programme is that it shows both the family’s reaction to trauma as well as the attitudes of the staff who encounter such events every day of their life. The impact of these little moments split seconds in the life of a person, are shown through how the patient reacts and, hopefully, recovers. And the shock and trauma that these incidents cause for all the people who know and love them. At the end of each programme, we find out how the patient recovered and how soon, or if, they were able to return to their normal, everyday life. While some, unfortunately, pass away as a result of their injuries most make a full recovery within days or weeks. However, the reality is that others have to remain in long-term care for sometimes months or years.
Yesterday, on returning to the office I received a phone call from a client who lives in a neighbouring town. This self-employed person recently decided to reduce their working time to 2 days a week based on their own circumstances. The purpose of the call was to check whether they ought to maintain their serious illness cover and personal protection plans. While we discussed cost versus benefit some questions arose. The main one was whether that person sees themselves getting sick in the next year or two. Nobody plans to get sick, or have an accident; it just happens. We all hope that we will remain in good health throughout our lives and though we do our best to safeguard ourselves against illness, there are no guarantees.
For self-employed people, our personal health and well-being is one of the most important things in our business. We cannot afford to get sick, to get hurt or injured in any way unless our business is setup in such a way that it can function 100% without its key person.
As a financial advisor, one of my roles is to help people preserve their income and lifestyle no matter what happens. What I saw yesterday, the dangerous driving and the crash at the Red Cow had the potential to change people’s lives forever.
When someone gets sick or injured, one of the first practical concerns to arise is where will the money come from to pay the bills. The groceries still need to be bought, the gas and electricity paid for and the mortgage tended to, but besides all these everyday items, there are also extra costs. Medical bills, pharmacy expenses, rehabilitation and in the more extreme cases, there may be architectural and building expenses involved where a home needs to be wheelchair accessible.
We see these events every day in the world around us, but we never think that it will happen to us. It is part of my job to help people to visualise the possibilities that life can bring, both positive and negative. I have to help my clients see that the worst can happen – only then can we take steps to ensure that we are not left high & dry when it does.
Lives got changed yesterday. There were two more serious collisions on the roads around Dublin later in the day. And no doubt it will happen again today. This is not something that people want to think about. We don’t ever want to imagine it being us. But if we set aside the fear for a moment, we can – and should – ask ourselves, ‘do I want to preserve my income and my lifestyle no matter what happens?’ If so, action is called for.