Live Well

Could you afford to be sick and unable to work?

Stephanie Howes

When you’re fighting for your life, you shouldn't have to worry about the mortgage.

That’s where critical illness insurance can be a huge asset, especially for people suffering a debilitating disease that prevents them from being able to work.

Still, 65 per cent of Canadians with children still living at home don’t have it, according to statistics provided by TD Insurance.

“It can take the worry away and allow you to focus on getting better,” says KPU’s Stephanie Howes, an instructor in the Faculty of Health who emphasizes the importance of critical illness insurance to Canadians of all ages.

Nearly half of all Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime, and 1.6 million Canadians currently have heart disease or are living with the effects of a stroke. The provincial health-care system addresses the medical treatment needs of patients, but many among us aren’t prepared for the financial challenges that often go hand in hand with a health challenge.

Imagine worrying about rent or mortgage payments, car payments and grocery and utility bills while fighting a life-threatening illness. Anyone whose financial situation couldn't afford to shoulder the cost of being critically ill should consider this type of insurance.

How it works:

  • Patient is diagnosed with a critical illness and makes a claim
  • After a short waiting period (usually 30 days), the patient is awarded a lump sum cash payment
  • Policies vary, and lump sum benefit amounts can range between $25,000 and $2 million

One drawback is that monthly premiums could be a burden for a family. The cost is similar to the cost of life insurance, and may exclude certain diseases.  As always, it is important to shop around for best rates and to find out what illnesses are covered.

“And if your employer or potential employer doesn’t offer group critical illness insurance, it’s worth your effort to consider purchasing it elsewhere,” Howes adds.

When seeking new employment, inquire about critical illness insurance as part of the benefits offered.