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Can you afford to live longer?

By Staff Writer

Life expectancy in the country has improved dramatically in the past eight years - going from 53 to 60 years. A Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) report showed that women are outliving their male counterparts with an average life span of 61,4 years compared to the 57,7 average lifespan of men.

This is attributed to the fact thatPeople are living longer because illnesses that previously carried a death sentences can now be treated, thanks to medical advances. According to a June 2013 report by, Diego Iturralde, head of demographic analysis at Statistics South AfricaStats SA, the number of people living with HIV isthere are 5, 26 million people living with HIV, which is 10% of the country’s population.

But despite people with dread diseases, like HIV, living longer,But not many people many are not financially prepared to live this extended life.

South Africans’ insurance priorities
A recent statistics guideFigures released by Old Mutual showed that R2.8 billion in claims were paid to the group’s retail customers. Seventy eight percent of these were made up of death claims made up of deaths(78%),, while 12% were illness and physical impairment claims (12%), 10% were disability claims (10%) and only 1% were retrenchment related claims. (less than 1%).

“These statistics show that people are not expecting to live through life’s unforeseen circumstances. We are all aware of modern medicine and that there are more treatments available to humans, yet we all mostly plan for death,” said Jaco Gouws, risk product manager at Old Mutual.

He added that people take insurance for things they own, like cars and cellphones, more seriously. He said this is because people tend to overlook the high likelihood that they could experience temporary or permanent disability, a severe illness such as cancer; or a retrenchment before they actually pass away. According to research done by True South Accountants and Actuaries in March this year, 60% of South Africans are underinsured for permanent disability and a staggering 93% are underinsured for temporary disability.

The repercussions of buying life insurance
Gouws said the average age of people who claim for dreaded disease is 42 years. “A lot of people live with HIV, diabetes and cancer for years. In today’s life usuallyToday, usually the man and wife both need to work. Should one of them not be able to work, one spouse cannot afford to stay at home and look after the other. Paying someone to look after you alot costs a lot of money. People should remember that frail care does not only apply to 80-year-olds,” said Gouws.

Besides illness, insurance can also help you get out of a debt spiral should you get retrenched. Gouws said that many people still think they won’t be retrenched or they can easily get another job.

It’s never too early to insure your life
 For someone who just graduated and enters the job market, disability insurance is likely the last thing on their minds. But Gouws said you should be thinking about how you would pay for your new car, flat or study debt should you become disabled in an accident.

“Death cover shouldn’t be your only concern because with modern medicine, you could survive. You will then need to adjust your lifestyle. Disability and severe illness solutions are an important part of a financial plan as they will help you pay for the costs your medical aid can’t cover, allow you to take some much needed time off work to recover, pay for a caregiver or settle a medical debt,” said Gouws.


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