Sunday, November 27, 2011

I forgot my parachute!

"That is amazing" .... "I just can't believe this" ....

The tears in his eyes welled up but I could see he was trying hard to not let them start rolling down his face.  This was a 40-something man in my office and his real-life story goes like this:
I took an appointment that sounded like it was going to be fairly standard. A man calls the office concerned about his financial position and he wants to talk.  The appointment rolls around and we chatted for about 15 minutes during which he tells me that he and his wife and are under some financial pressure.  His wife may need to go back to work and the prospect was making him very unhappy.

I asked him why he was unhappy about his wife returning to work.  He tells me that three years ago she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the treatment has been hell and it was amazing she survived and came through it at all.
He goes on to explain that he probably feels this way because he was so close to losing her and since then they have been living beyond their means - taking lots of holidays, saying yes to the kids more than they should and they are now feeling pressure to pay down the mortgage and start saving for their retirement.
As he continues telling me about his wife's traumatic treatment plan and recovery, I am flicking through their insurance documents.  He owns a trauma policy on his wife which covers, amonst other things, a range of cancers, heart attack and stroke.  Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system.  There was $110,000 worth of cover, just sitting there, waiting to be claimed to help them manage the costs of treatment and recovery.

I said to him "you know you have this trauma policy - why haven't you claimed on it?"  After a brief pause, he quietly says "to be honest, I didn't even think about it".  I contact the insurer, process the claim and within four weeks I am handing them the cheque for $110,000.  And yes, I'm pleased to report that they have made the most of it - significantly paying down their mortgage and leaving enough to make some great family memories on their next "guilt-free" holiday.

This story has a happy ending but of course this isn't always the case.  Not everyone recovers and not everyone seeks the financial safety of insurance. Given the likelihood of being diagnosed with cancer (some statistics below), let alone any other major medical trauma, take this as a timely reminder to think about your own real-life story.

The Trusted Adviser.

Lifetime Risk
Cancer Type
45 year old Male
45 year old Female
All Cancers
1 in 3
1 in 4
Breast Cancer
1 in 11
Prostate Cancer
1 in 11
Colorectal Cancer
1 in 17
1 in 26
1 in 25
1 in 35
Lung Cancer
1 in 22
1 in 45
Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma
1 in 66
1 in 88
Cancer of the Uterus
1 in 75
Cancer of the Kidney
1 in 76
1 in 143

Statistical data provided by IRESS: Risk Researcher 2011

Image: Michelle Meiklejohn /

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