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Advice can make a critical difference

The news that one in 17 people lose their homes after being diagnosed with cancer was the most shocking message of many that came out of recent Macmillan Cancer Support research.

Also, one in six of those diagnosed have difficulty keeping up with their mortgage or rental payments.

As an industry we are aware of the devastating financial implications a critical illness such as cancer can have, and have been banging this drum for some time. The Macmillan research backs up what we at Scottish Widows have been asking people – if you lose an income due to illness, are you going to be able to cope financially? The sad fact is that a huge number will not be able to.

While releasing this research, Macmillan launched its Hitting Home campaign to publicise the financial help available and encourage and help people diagnosed with cancer to seek out the government benefits for which they are eligible.

An astounding number of people aren’t aware that they are able to claim for benefits such as Disability Living Allowance and hospital travel costs.

The fact is that these benefits, although a great help, are relatively insubstantial when individuals are faced with the regular mounting costs of everyday living without an income. Similarly, some of the benefits are means tested which doesn’t help if your wealth is tied up in a property on which you’re struggling to pay the mortgage.

Whether it’s a lump sum payout or a mortgage being paid in full, the lifeline that a critical illness policy can offer to patients and their families is obvious. The last thing that anyone who has been diagnosed with a critical illness should have to worry about is how they are going to keep the roof over their head. But according to this research this is just what happens – a staggering 28% of cancer patients with children have difficulty in keeping up payments.

While Macmillan’s campaign is encouraging, as an adviser your role is to protect your clients before diagnosis and before they’re faced with having to cope on state benefits or draw on their savings.

Critical illness cover is a tough topic to raise in an interview but the Macmillan findings provide you with some tangible evidence to prove that cancer does result in people like your clients losing their homes.

Remember that of every six of your clients, one will contract cancer before they retire and of those, one in 17 will lose their homes. You have a serious responsibility to your clients to ensure they are aware of this reality and the financial implications. Think what a difference your advice could make to their lives.

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