IT WAS COLON CANCER. Sitting in the doctor’s office, Vincent Laufs was in shock. He was an active guy on the cusp of 40, a proud father and a dedicated accountant. The last thing he expected in 2016 was a serious illness. “I really didn’t think that this would ever happen to me,” he admits. However, his job had taught him to plan for every eventuality, and on a recommendation from his broker he’d purchased Old Mutual Illness insurance back in 2010. This coverage is designed for exactly this type of scenario, providing funds to cover many of the unexpected costs associated with a serious illness. Often, your medical bills might be just the tip of the iceberg with home modifications, physical therapy, and travel costs adding up to a substantial sum throughout your treatment. In the long run, having access to this cover would give Vincent much-needed stability in the turbulent years ahead, especially after he later suffered a stroke in 2019. “As a family we would’ve faced years of real financial hardship if Vincent hadn’t taken out Illness insurance,” says his wife Cezanne.
The Road to Recovery
Destroying cancer cells is no easy task. These cells grow and multiply faster than most others in the body, so treating many forms of cancer often requires aggressive interventions such as chemotherapy. This drug treatment uses powerful chemicals to either slow the growth of cancer cells or eradicate them completely. When Vincent embarked on this course of treatment, he knew there would be difficult days ahead. “Chemotherapy has many side effects,” he says. “So it was going to be difficult to work, and impossible to consult with my clients.”
Fatigue, nausea, bruising and bleeding, anaemia and loss of appetite – these are just a few of the side effects cancer patients might experience during their treatment. Vincent felt exhausted and was unable to return to his job. He also had to put a stop to his active lifestyle as he battled with chemotherapy’s long list of side effects. “I started to feel really negative because I was indoors most of the time,” he says. “Our first six months of his cancer treatment were quite hectic,” adds Cezanne.
Deprived of an income, Vincent and his family could’ve easily been heading for financial turmoil had it not been for their insurance. But this coverage gave him access to a tax-free single amount payout so that he could afford the care he needed, alleviating a significant amount of stress during this challenging chapter of his life. “Vincent’s health was so much better for not having all that additional financial stress,” adds Cezanne.
Anxiety over money can have a devastating impact on both your mental and physical health. It can also affect your relationships. Many studies have linked moderate to high levels of financial stress to an increased risk of developing heart disease, migraines, depression, sleep problems and diabetes. Thankfully, the financial assistance provided by Old Mutual policies was more than sufficient to cover Vincent’s monthly fixed debit orders during his recovery. “Old Mutual’s service was really fantastic and hassle-free,” he adds.
Lightning Strikes Twice
In 2019, after a long battle with cancer, Vincent suffered a stroke. Again, he was unable to work, forced to sit at home as his bills piled up. But, again, Old Mutual Illness insurance stepped in to alleviate the burden. During both of these challenging chapters of his life, Vincent’s broker, Fanie, was by his side every step of the way, providing support at any hour. “When Vincent was diagnosed with his stroke, I could phone Fanie [at] 7 o’clock, 8 o’clock in the evening and tell him what was happening,” says Cezanne. For them, there was no difference between the first and second claim; they received personalised attention from everyone at Old Mutual. “It was always a smooth process,” says Vincent. For the accountant, his wife and children, having many of their expenses taken care of by his cover, gave them the space to work through Vincent’s health challenges as a family. “I could focus on being at hospital with Vincent,” says Cezanne.” And also focusing on the children and their emotional well-being.”
Looking back, Vincent is glad that he purchased Old Mutual Illness insurance almost 12 years ago. While there were no signs that he would face the challenges he eventually did in recent years, he understood that life can change in the blink of an eye. “I was healthy all the years, and I was one of those people who thought it wasn’t going to happen to me,” he admits. “[But] it happened to me twice in four years…
“There’s a reason for these policies,” he says. “Be prepared because life happens.”
WHAT IS OLD MUTUAL ILLNESS INSURANCE?
Protect yourself and your family from unexpected costs while recovering from a serious illness such as a heart attack, stroke or cancer. Old Mutual Illness insurance pays a single tax-free amount between R100 000 to R6 million if you’re diagnosed with a severe illness. The funds can be used to cover everything from rehabilitation costs; home and vehicle modifications; day-to-day expenses while taking time off work; and travel costs for visiting treatment centres. Vincent was also able to use some of his payout to pay for someone to take care of his children while he was recovering.
KEY FEATURES OF OLD MUTUAL ILLNESS INSURANCE
Pays a percentage of the cover amount during the term you’ve chosen if you have a severe illness such as a heart attack, cancer or stroke. If your quality of life is severely impacted by an illness and you can’t care for yourself, the Cancer Enhancer will boost the payout by up to 25% of the cover amount.
You’re covered for up to 30 days before your first premium is payable.
ENHANCE YOUR COVERAGE
Life is unpredictable, so Old Mutual gives you the option to add and remove benefits as your lifestyle and needs change. It allows you to prepare for almost any eventuality.
- Top-up Benefit: Pays the full cover amount for specific illnesses. It includes a Lifestyle Enhancer which pays double the cover amount if your quality of life is severely impacted by an accidental brain injury, coma, heart attack, paralysis or a stroke and you can no longer care for yourself.
- Child Illness Benefit: Pays up to R500 000 for child severe illnesses (such as cancer, a brain injury and severe burns) and birth defects (such as cleft palate and deafness).
- Mild Illness Benefit: Pays 30% of the cover amount for mild illnesses (such as Type 1 diabetes and bacterial meningitis).
- Returning Illness Benefit: Pays up to 50% of the cover amount for returning severe illnesses (such as cancer, heart attack or stroke) after the full cover amount has already been paid.
- For Women Benefit: Pays up to 50% of the cover amount for fertility-related conditions and complications during pregnancy (such as endometriosis, eclampsia or stillbirth).
- Premium Protection: Ensures premiums are no longer payable and cover continues if the premium payer becomes disabled, impaired, is retrenched or passes away.
- Cash-back: Every 5 years, on the cashback anniversary, we will pay back 15% of all premiums received for the contract since the previous cashback anniversary and while cashback existed on your contract. Cashback will not be paid if the contract is not active on the cashback anniversary. Cashback would, on average, increase your premium by 12.5%.
Choosing the right cover for serious illnesses doesn’t have to be daunting. For more information speak to your financial adviser. Visit www.oldmutual/illness or call 0860 60 60 60
This story was told to us by one of our customers. He received a monetary token of our appreciation for sharing his story. The information shared in this article does not constitute financial advice.
*In Partnership with Old Mutual