Cardiovascular-related claims make up the most death claims that life insurance companies deal with, and do so almost every year. This has been so even through the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the 2020 claim statistics from Momentum Life Insurance,
When it comes to cardiovascular diseases and strokes, people often associate these diseases with men, and in fact, they are generally right. According to Momentum’s stats, cardiovascular issues are a leading cause of deaths for men whereas cancer is the leading cause of death claims for women.
George Kolbe, head of marketing for Momentum Retail Life Insurance says: “This can be supported by Momentum Life statistics indicating that cardiovascular/heart disease was the main cause of death claims for men at 28%. Of these, 69% were caused by a heart attack.”
Facing the reality of cardiovascular risk
According to the World Health Organisation, 27.4% of men and 26.1% of women in South Africa suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure), although other sources estimate this number to be closer to one in every three adults and even up to 60% of the population. The reality is that everyone suffering from hypertension carries increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Kolbe believes the real tragedy behind heart attacks and strokes is the fact that they can be prevented to a large extent. “Simple lifestyle changes including diet, exercise and knowledge of one’s health status can provide the prevention many people need but are simply not implementing into their lives.”
This view is supported by statistics from the South African Medical Research Council, which indicate that up to 80% of heart diseases and strokes could be prevented through modified behaviour such as choosing to follow a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, not smoking and avoiding an excessive alcohol intake.
Kolbe says people tend to forget that a cardiovascular disease or stroke can fundamentally disrupt and forever change a family’s entire dynamic in an instant. This once again emphasises the importance of comprehensive risk cover.
You may need more than medical aid to cover expenses
Advances in medical care mean that people can now survive illnesses that were once normally fatal. Kolbe says: “Although many people lead relatively normal lives after suffering a critical illness event, you may require financial assistance to cover any lifestyle changes or extra costs not covered by your medical scheme.”
He says the problem starts with out-of-hospital expenses and chronic medication and typically medical schemes don't cover cutting-edge experimental treatments. Heart disease or stroke can leave you with a huge financial burden, even if you're on a relatively good medical scheme. “This highlights the need for critical illness cover,” says Kolbe.
Health is not guaranteed but comprehensive cover can be
Kolbe says: “Critical illness insurance allows you to protect your lifestyle by funding the cost of changes to your lifestyle or additional expenses incurred as a result of a critical illness event. This could include anything from making renovations in your home to accommodate a wheelchair ramp, to hiring an au pair to look after the children.
“As life is unpredictable and without any guarantees, it is vital for people to have comprehensive critical illness cover in place.
“Having the right cover in place ensures that your financial responsibilities are taken care of in the event of you suffering a critical illness, disability or death. It replaces the income you would have earned during your working life, helping to ensure that you and your family are financially secure.”