Critical insurance
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In many ways, we are fortunate to live and work in the UAE. The country offers us a high standard of living. When the going’s good, there’s plenty to enjoy. A question though – during the good times, are we more like the ant or the grasshopper?

When life throws curve balls our way, such as unemployment or health issues for example, are we sufficiently prepared to meet these challenges? Thankfully, we have tools to combat these uncomfortable realities. Insurance helps us to smoothen the rough times in our lives, enabling us to tackle these challenges and be better prepared. Without them, a single instance of serious illness or disease could be debilitating and have snowballing consequences on our lives beyond just health.

Wilson Varghese, General Manager and Director at Zurich in the Middle East

It’s crucial for us to review our unique personal situations and take time to understand whether we and our families are set up to withstand the financial implications of a critical illness.

Health vs critical illness

The difference should be clear. Take the example of health, which for many of us is an increasing concern and a high priority.

In our regional claims experience of the last three years, the average age of a critical illness claimant (heart attack, stroke, and cancer) was just 49 years. Put that in perspective – it’s about 11 or 16 years before a conventional retirement age and when we are in our prime working years.

During this time, we need to ensure that we can recover fully from our condition but do it in a way that doesn’t deplete our savings. One of the big misconceptions people have is that critical illness cover and health insurance are the same and that either one or the other is required.

Health insurance and critical illness cover are not the same. They are complementary and serve different and important purposes.

Health insurance reimburses your medical provider expenses, in part or full, based on your policy cover upon receiving the treatment.

Critical illness insurance on the other hand is a lump sum payment made to the life insured when diagnosed with a defined critical illness like cancer, heart attack, stroke etc. This can be used for medical or non-medical expenses such as post-surgery treatments, unpaid time off work to focus on recovery, and lifestyle changes. Some of these expenses wouldn’t be covered by health insurance, which serves an important purpose of reimbursing your medical provider. Thankfully in the UAE, health insurance is covered by our employer.

With life insurance, these costs can be covered without anxiety or guilt that it’s taking away from your nest egg or dipping into funds you had set aside for your family.

A critical illness is a major life event, and while insurance could never help with the emotional hardships, it is a stress reliever to know that you have the financial resources to take on that challenge while still continuing to manage your commitments. Evaluating your personal circumstances and getting adequate life insurance cover including critical illness protection is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones.

3 things to be better prepared

Let’s get a physical check-up: Most health insurance providers pay towards an annual health check. Use it regularly to identify risk factors and take action early.

Prevention is better than cure: Adopt a healthier lifestyle, indulge in physical activity, and have a clean diet to avoid health concerns.

Wealth protection is foundational to wealth creation: Seek out a professional financial advisor to understand how much and what type of cover you need.

If you have life insurance already, you may be able to add a critical illness benefit to your existing policy rather than take a new one.

Get a quote, this is free. Even if you think life insurance will be unaffordable or that you may be declined due to your age or current condition, I’m confident that you may be pleasantly surprised on both counts.

May your good times last long – and in these times if we are more like the ant upfront, we can enjoy being the grasshoppers for longer!

– The writer is General Manager and Director at Zurich in the Middle East