Life insurance Updated:
One person dies from heart disease on average every minute in the UK, resulting in 425 deaths a day and making cardiovascular disease Britain's number one killer. This is according to research by the British Heart Foundation, which found that heart diseases account for 26% of all deaths in the UK.
While this is undoubtedly a scary statistic, don't let it frighten you too much! There is a lot that can be done to decrease your chances of being affected by heart disease, including eating healthier, exercising more, and getting regular check-ups from your GP. If you think all of this won't be enough to cover your risk of falling ill, maybe because it runs in your family or your GP has cautioned you, then there's always life insurance with critical illness protection to consider.
The thought of getting sick is undoubtedly scary, but it gets even scarier if you're the main provider and were to lose your income along with your health. Critical illness or income protection cover is one way to make sure your family is taken care of if you were to be unable to take care of them for a while, as it ensures you get cash or keep your income while you're battling your way back to health. Combining critical illness with life insurance cover would further ensure your family is safe even if the worst were to happen and you can't beat the odds. And with companies now offering benefits such as private medical consultations, there's no reason why such a policy can't benefit you as well as your family.
Research from Scottish Widows, undertaken recently to coincide with this year's World Heart Day, revealed that in 2015, cardiovascular disease was actually the second-greatest cause for claiming on life cover, at 23% for men and 12% for women, behind cancer which saw 43% of claims for men and 54% for women. It also came in second place in terms of critical illness cover claims for men, at 22% compared with 52% for cancer. Women, in contrast, claimed critical illness cover overwhelmingly for cancer, at 74%, while heart disease fell to fourth place at 3%.
Given that men still represent the majority of main providers when it comes to household income, their increased risk of heart disease is a cause for some concern considering how common it's become. It also means that they, or at least their families, are more likely to benefit from life and critical illness cover. Income protection should not be discounted, however, as this can cover loss of work due to an accident (the cause of 11% of life insurance claims for men and 2% for women according to Scottish Widows) as well as illness and even redundancy.
Scott Cadger, head of underwriting and claims strategy at Scottish Widows, said: "There are around seven million people living with cardiovascular disease in the UK, and an ageing and growing population and improved survival rates from cardiovascular events could see these numbers rise even further [source: the British Heart Foundation].
"While none of us ever want to think about the worst, our findings show that almost three quarters of the population have no protection in place to protect their families' financial future if the unexpected were to happen. This could lead to them experiencing a significant financial struggle in the event of an unexpected loss of income due to serious illness or death."
If you don't have a family or other dependents, you may not need to consider life insurance, but critical illness cover or income protection may still benefit you if you were to fall severely ill. You may find that such policies are covered by your employer already, so don't forget to check before you make a decision.
For those that do have a family to protect, there is a wide variety of life insurance policies to consider. Some policies allow you to use the money towards your mortgage after a certain amount of time, and some are for life while others are only for a set amount of time - the options can be overwhelming. To get a better idea of the possibilities and what they cover exactly, have a look at our guides to get started.
This kind of decision is usually a matter of head versus heart, weighing present costs against future risks. In this instance, however, listening to your heart may be about more than your sense of financial security.
Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.
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