Do you need extra cover for very early stage cancer?
A life company is offering add-on cover for pre-malignant cancer, saying the costs for treating cancer at this very early stage are just as high as they are for treating the disease when it is more advanced. Laura du Preez reports
One in six cancer diagnoses are for pre-malignant cancer, data from a local reinsurer show, yet critical illness policies typically do not provide benefits for these diagnoses.
Both the rise in the incidence of cancer and the growing awareness of the need to be screened for the disease have increased the number of early diagnoses.
However, if you have a critical illness policy that covers you for cancer, you are likely to find that it excludes benefits for pre-malignant, or stage zero, cancer.
A dread disease or critical illness policy is a risk life assurance policy that, on diagnosis of one of a number of specified illnesses, including cancer, pays you out a lump sum that you can use as you wish.
You can use the payout to cover medical expenses not covered by your medical scheme, although most assurers argue that the cover is intended to pay for lifestyle changes that result from your illness. For example, you may need rehabilitation or someone to care for your children, or you may decide to follow a less-ambitious, and lowerpaying, career path.
Altrisk claims it is the first life assurance company to market an add-on benefit for its existing critical illness policies that offers a payout for stage zero cancer.
Altrisk says the costs you may face for stage zero cancer are significant, but other assurers are not convinced of the need for this benefit.
Altrisk says reinsurance data show that a 30-year-old woman is almost six times more likely to have stage zero cancer than a cancer that is classified according to its severity as stage one, two, three or four.
Reinsurance statistics also show that among 60-year-old men with cancer, 50 percent of prostate cancers are classified as being at a stage at which it is too early for them to be covered by the typical critical illness policy.
In stage zero, the cancer cells are localised and have not invaded the surrounding tissue. A diagnosis may also be referred to as in-situ.
Thanks to developments in the treatment of cancer and, in particular, the rapid growth of biologics ( medicines created through a biological process), survival rates