The majority of people who buy life insurance do so to provide financial security to a beneficiary when they die. But oftentimes traditional life insurance won’t cover the burdensome costs involved when a chronic, critical, or even terminal illness strikes.
There is a solution, though—one that provides relief from the financial demands of such an illness. Some life insurance policies offer an add-on called living benefits, which, in the event of a long-term, catastrophic, or terminal illness, can be accessed while the policyholder is still alive. Here’s what you need to know about living benefits and how they might help.
Are You Prepared for an Unexpected Illness?
According to the American Cancer Society, there will be an estimated 1.7 million new cancer cases diagnosed and more than half a million cancer deaths in the U.S. this year.
The American Heart Association reports that cardiovascular disease is the leading global cause of death, accounting for more than 17.3 million deaths per year, and that number is expected to exceed 23.6 million by 2030.
Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says the average cost for long-term care in the United States exceeds $6,000 per month for a semi-private room in a nursing home and $3,000 per month for care in an assisted living facility.
Many people are simply not prepared for a chronic, critical, or terminal illness. They think that just because they have a health insurance or disability plan, they will be sufficiently covered in the case of a sudden or serious health problem such as a heart attack, stroke, or cancer diagnosis. The fact is, that’s probably not true.
A great health insurance plan might cover a large part of those medical costs, but there could be deductibles, co-payments, and out-of-pocket expenses to deal with first. Plus, a health insurance plan won’t help you with lost income while you’re sick or recovering from your illness. A disability plan might help your financial situation while you’re away from work, but even the best of those can cover only about half of your lost wages.
Regardless of how old you are, how much money you make, or what kind of health coverage you have, two things are inevitable in the case of an unexpected illness: your expenses will go up, and your income will go down—resulting in debt that could leave you paralyzed financially.
According to a study by Harvard researchers, over 60 percent of all personal bankruptcies in the United States were a direct result of medical problems. What’s even worse is that nearly 80 percent of the people included in this study who were suffering from a critical condition had health insurance at the start of their illness. This clearly demonstrates that additional protection is needed—more than what many of the health and/or disability plans are able to provide for you.
That’s where life insurance with living benefits—also known as an Accelerated Death Benefit Rider—can help you when you need it most.
Dealing with a Critical, Chronic, or Terminal Illness
Let’s say you develop a chronic illness that’s going to require a long-term approach to getting better. Or, you experience a heart attack or stroke, or you find out you have cancer. In each of these cases, there’s a good chance that you could recover and continue to live a full and meaningful life—if you’re able to afford the cost of proper treatment and care. Unfortunately, your health insurance coverage will likely offer only a partial solution. Wouldn’t it be beneficial if you could access your death benefit to help pay for those costs, rather than digging into your savings account?
According to a USA Today report, one in four cancer patients or their families said they spent all or most of their savings to pay for treatment. And, one in eight people with advanced cancer turned down recommended care because of the costs involved.
“Growing numbers of people simply can’t afford to get the care we know they need,” said John Seffrin, CEO of the American Cancer Society. “We hear about a growing number of people turning down treatment.”
Some insurance companies will accelerate most of your death benefit if you qualify as terminally ill, but that seems like more of a death benefit for a death sentence. With living benefits added to your life insurance, you can be covered in three separate areas:
- Critical illness. Typically pays one lump sum if you have a serious illness such as cancer, or a heart attack or stroke.
- Chronic illness. Typically pays a monthly benefit if you’ve been diagnosed as chronically ill and you are unable to perform two activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, or eating. This benefit could pay up to a quarter of the amount of your death benefit annually.
- Terminal illness. Typically pays a benefit if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness and are told that your life expectancy is 12 to 24 months. These funds can be used for experimental medicine, preparing for final expenses, or any other purpose you deem necessary.
Some restrictions may apply. Please contact a licensed True Blue Life Insurance agent at 1-866-816-2100 to discuss the details of adding living benefits to your life insurance coverage.
What Happens when You Have Life Insurance with Living Benefits?
If you should experience any qualifying critical, chronic, or terminal illness—such as a heart attack, stroke, or cancer, to name a few—you would have the option to collect part of your death benefit to help pay for expenses associated with your illness.
Of course, the amount of money your beneficiary would receive as part of your death benefit would be reduced by that amount. But, having the option to accelerate your death benefit funds could be a critically important step in helping you and your family through an unexpected and unfortunate crisis. It might even be the difference in helping you enjoy a long and healthy life after your illness.
A licensed True Blue Life Insurance agent can help you. Just call 1-866-816-2100 and ask how you can add living benefits to your traditional life insurance coverage.