It’s times like these that I find my job hard.
I went into insurance because of my own personal experience – I was widowed unexpectedly, with a young child and with no financial security. My husband hadn’t taken out any insurance against his life or wellbeing and suddenly we were left with nothing.
That desperate feeling was my driving force in setting up Westcountry Healthcare, and still drives me to try to help people protect themselves and their loved ones from such unexpected trauma.
Yet it’s not always possible to protect everyone from everything.
Last year I took on some new clients, a lovely young couple who’d just bought a house together. I prepared my usual presentation in which I try to explain the various types of insurance available and the importance of each.
Now I know as well as anyone that budgets don’t often stretch to everything, so I try hard to achieve a good spread of protection, across different policies, giving the optimum mix in terms of benefit.
Unsurprisingly, the couple, in their early 30s, felt fit and well and reticent to worry too much about critical illnesses or the prospect of being unable to work.
However, last weekend I received the phone call every broker dreads. The young woman, just 32, had received a positive result on a smear test and was awaiting results on a biopsy. Overnight, she was facing an uncertain future – for her health, her fertility and her ability to work.
Luckily the Critical Illness policy I arranged for them will pay out a decent lump sum once a diagnosis has been made. But the harsh truth of the industry I’m in was evident in that phone call: she doesn’t care about the money, she just wants to be well.
This is the bit that’s so hard. This is the bit I can’t make better. But I can make things easier.
Unfortunately, I know only too well that whilst she won’t care about the money now, if her illness progresses and she continues to be signed off work, that lump sum will ease the path. It will enable her and her partner to continue to meet the mortgage payments and to sustain their standard of living for the time being.
Yet, I wish they had afforded Income Protection as well. This would give a regular payment, equivalent to a percentage of her income, for as long as she is ill. But as I’ve said, not everyone can afford everything.
So I’d like to pass on this one message: it’s never too early to think about protecting your health and your future, but it can be too late to look after it.
32 or 72, insurance only works if you take it out before the worst happens. Buy as many types of insurance as you can afford, to spread your protection. And don’t ever take your health for granted. I might not be able to make you better, but I can make things easier.