Koos Nel
Koos Nel

Anyone can be diagnosed with a severe illness at any time. Your health and your family’s lifestyle are intertwined with the success of your business, which in most cases depends on the continuous and direct involvement of you and your spouse. While following good advice and taking precautions can reduce our chances of being diagnosed with severe illnesses such as cancer, stroke or heart disease, unfortunately we cannot completely prevent them. As the affable Forrest Gump says: “My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” So it is sensible to financially prepare in the event it does happen.

Severe illnesses can come with many costs – expected and unexpected – which is why it’s important to have financial protection in the form of proper severe illness cover to enable you to recover with peace of mind, and without interrupting or compromising your family’s lifestyle.

People who have been diagnosed with a severe illness will often say you should take responsibility for your own financial planning. This can be very daunting if you have no financial expertise. You may not know where or how to start. The most basic, yet important, rule of financial planning is to start early. Plans that you put in place now will make a significant difference later on.

Where to start

As a farmer, your ability to work in and on your business and generate an income and a profit is essential. Nobody can do it better than you. Falling ill could force you to take a break from farming or hand over responsibilities until you recover. Without severe illness cover, you risk having to spend hard earned money on tiding you over until you are well enough to resume your responsibilities. Fighting a severe illness can have a significant financial impact if you are unprepared.

A typical recovery journey has four main phases, all of which require significant funding.

Phase 1: Diagnosis

During this phase, you may undergo various medical tests to identify the problem. These tests come at a price and it is estimated that 82% of South Africans have no form of medical aid, which means this expense needs to be paid directly from their pockets. Even if you do have medical aid, it does not mean all the costs of your diagnosis will be fully paid for. It is important to check whether your medical aid covers consultations with specialists and technological tests such as MRI scans, ECG tests and angiograms.

Phase 2: Treatment

The next step is treatment, which will vary depending on the type of illness and the severity. It could include surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. Without medical aid and gap cover, this expense can give your personal and business finances a knock.

Phase 3: Recovery

This is often the time you have to financially fend for yourself. It can be both frustrating and stressful because you may not be fit enough to go back to work yet, while incurring additional expenses such as nursing care, rehabilitation and a caregiver for the children, over and above your monthly living expenses.

Phase 4: Miscellaneous expenses

Unfortunately, some costs linger long after your recovery. You could be left with medical debt to pay off, for example, or need ongoing counselling, reduced working hours or adjustments to your home. Severe illness cover can ease the financial burden during this phase.

What now?

If your family and livelihood depend on the success of your farm, remember that your farm depends on the state of your health. Financially protect yourself from events that could cripple your ability to run your farm and provide for your family. GREENLIGHT Severe Illness cover from Old Mutual pays out a tax-free lump sum if you are diagnosed with a severe illness, and gives you 100% peace of mind that they will be by your side when it is time to fight back.

Important considerations

When doing your financial planning, always get advice from an accredited financial adviser backed by a reputable institution. A good financial adviser will help you navigate your way around risk cover as well as savings, retirement planning and investments, all of which are key components of a holistic financial plan.

Today is the day to financially protect yourself with GREENLIGHT Severe Illness cover. Your farm does not have to come to a standstill when you are ill. – Koos Nel, Old Mutual

For more information, contact Koos Nel, head of Agri Market at Old Mutual on 082 459 1407 or email knel1@oldmutual.com. Also visit www.oldmutual.co.za/personal/financialplanning/agri. Old Mutual Life Assurance Company (SA) Ltd is a licensed financial services provider. 

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