Many Canadian lawyers likely have some form of critical illness insurance but very few know what to expect should they have to file a claim and start taking advantage of their benefits. Until things go wrong, there’s no way to anticipate how long recovery will take and how that will affect family income and the stability of a legal practice.
Steve Wise, an insurance industry veteran and Lawyers Financial Advisor in Southwestern Ontario, believes that every lawyer should understand how this affordable coverage works and why it’s such a vital part of financial planning.
Based on his recent experience with a long-standing client, a lawyer with family coverage whose wife was diagnosed with cancer, Mr. Wise explains what to expect from the moment of diagnosis to recovery.
Reaction to a diagnosis
The diagnosis of a critical illness can come at the end of a lengthy series of tests or it can come as an out-of-the-blue shock. Either way, it sends emotions into high gear and has everyone asking, “What do I do now?” and “Am I covered?” Fortunately, the definition of a qualifying illness is clear cut. If you are diagnosed with one of the 25 conditions covered by the Lawyers Financial plan, you can file an insurance claim immediately and start focusing on treatment instead of finances.
Making a claim
Paperwork is the last thing anyone wants to deal with in the days following a diagnosis. That’s why insurance planners are trained and prepared to step in. Using the documents provided by your doctor, they will complete the claim, submit it, and be the insurance company’s point-of-contact for any requests for follow-up information. “It’s rare that clients ever hear from the insurance company,” Mr. Wise says. “If something needs to be done, the insurer knows they can deal with the advisor. It takes a lot of pressure off our clients.”
Settlement & payout
Getting a settlement is often much faster and easier than most people expect it to be. Mr. Wise’s client who was diagnosed with cancer received a cheque for the full amount of her coverage within weeks. “It’s one of those insurance policies that you know you should have but hope to never to need” she says. “But when the cheque arrives, you’re glad you have it.”
Paying your bills
Lawyers Financial provides critical illness coverage from $25,000 to $1-million. “Most people are surprised by the mounting costs that pop up throughout treatment and recovery,” Mr. Wise says. Once a claim is approved, the entire lump-sum amount is sent to the client to be spent any way they wish. That means they don’t have to dip into their long-term savings to cover additional or alternative treatments such as therapy that may not be entirely covered by group or individual plans.
Recharging and recovering
Almost a year after receiving their payout, the wife of Mr. Wise’s client got the all-clear from her doctors. The cancer treatment worked and life began returning to normal. But battling cancer in the height of a global pandemic had taken an emotional toll on the family. So, they used a portion of their insurance settlement to rent a small cottage where they could safely isolate, slow down the pace of life, and focus entirely on mental recovery. They did all of this without having to touch any of their personal savings.
There are many ways to insure yourself, your family and your staff should anyone be diagnosed with a critical illness. If you don’t have coverage, now may be the time to talk to a Lawyers Financial Advisor to determine how much coverage you need.