A lump sum can never ease the emotional stress caused by a child’s serious illness but it can remove a lot of financial strain
A little while ago my 11-year-old son was rushed to hospital needing to have his appendix removed. He was admitted on a Thursday night and had the operation the following day. Thankfully he was able to come home on the Saturday but my experience during this whistle-stop tour of A&E and the children’s ward brought home to me how difficult it is if one’s children have to spend time in hospital.
My eyes were opened to the large number of children in hospital at the same time as my son, of all ages and for all sorts of reasons. But I saw only one ward, in one hospital, in one town, over just a couple of days. It made me realise quite how often such childhood illnesses or accidents happen.
My son’s stay was brief but it highlighted both the sheer cost of hospital visits and the logistical nightmare of juggling being with the sick child while still being around for others at home.
My wife spent the Thursday night with our son, trying to sleep as best she could on a chair. On the Friday morning I went through the usual routine – getting the other two off to school, running the dog around the field – and then rushed to the hospital.
While our son was in theatre we bought a couple of meal deals from the hospital branch of Boots, paying over the odds for cold and old sandwiches. Later, setting off for home before our other two children got back from school, I realised we were paying a small fortune to the licensed bandit in charge of the hospital car park.
And all the time I was partly thinking about the work I should be doing. How could I go to work with a child in hospital and two more to look after?
Luckily I was out of the office for only one day and, with the blessing – or curse – of a smartphone, was able to keep on top of most things. Not every parent has a job that enables them to do that.
So what did my experience serve to highlight?
- This could easily happen to one of your children or that of a client. And it could be far worse than appendicitis. What if it were cancer? In 2014, 15 per cent of AIG’s critical illness claims were for children
- Juggling childcare for 36 hours was hard enough. What if it had been for 36 weeks?
- Hospital visits get expensive, and quickly. During those 36 hours we spent more than £30 on parking and almost £20 on food. Imagine what 36 weeks worth of visits would cost
- What if one did not have a job one could do from home, or an understanding employer? How many employers would still be understanding after 36 weeks? And what effect could that have on the family finances?
Almost every week we read of families trying to raise money to fund a child’s expensive healthcare, or having to cope with losing half or all of their income as one or both parents give up work in order to look after them.
The real tragedy is that, unknown to most of the population, all the main protection providers recognise the huge costs involved when a child suffers a serious illness and they include, free of charge within their critical illness plans, a children’s CI benefit that pays up to £25,000 on valid claims.
A Macmillan report entitled Cancer’s Hidden Price Tag reveals the sheer scale of the financial burden faced by people living with cancer. On average, four out of five cancer patients lose £570 a month. One in three loses £860 a month because they are unable to work or have to cut down their hours. Six in seven see their monthly expenses increase by £270 a month.
A £25,000 lump sum can never relieve the emotional stress caused by a child’s serious illness but it can take away a lot of the financial strain. So go on, have that conversation with your clients..
Steve Berry is protection manager at Pink