Most people do not spend a lot of time worrying about bad things happening to them. If I were to tell you that one in three people will get cancer you might be inclined to think, “Wow, that’s quite a number. I feel sorry for those people. Cancer is a terrible thing.” In other words, your first thought may not be that you might actually be the one person in three.
The thing about it is, you can’t know for sure that it isn’t you that is the one in three that will get cancer. Lance Armstrong, Mario Lemieux and Phil Kessel are young guys, and world-class athletes to boot, and cancer has struck all of them. And cancer is only one of many bad things that can, and do, happen to good people.
In my line of work, I see this happen all the time. People are in the prime of their lives, and all of a sudden their health takes a dramatic turn for the worse. You need to take care of yourself, but sometimes even that is not enough.
Every year this happens to the people that I work with. Every year I have clients get hurt, or get sick, or pass away. These people are not merely statistics; they are your friends and neighbors.
We can do things to lessen the chances of something bad happening to us. We can (and should) eat right, exercise more, drink less and quit smoking. But that doesn’t eliminate the chances of something bad happening. Remember Lance Armstrong, Mario Lemieux and Phil Kessel.
Some people will read this and say, “Yeah, okay, some well-known athletes got sick, but what are the chances that something will happen to me?” Well, actually the chances are one in three.
Some people will say, “I’m in great shape. That stuff happens to other people.” Sure, but Messrs. Armstrong, Lemieux and Kessel are in better shape than you are. And while I have never met any of these gentlemen, I wouldn’t be surprised if all of them also thought that it would happen to someone else.
So what would happen if you did get hurt or sick? There are going to be some consequences, of course. Obviously, there will be health consequences. Your priority is going to be to get better, and that’s something that you will be focusing on. There’s another thing though that you need to consider. What are the financial consequences of getting hurt or sick? What would happen to you and your family if, suddenly, you were too sick to work?
Would you have enough income coming in to cover your current obligations, never mind increased medical expenses? Can you afford for your spouse to take time off work? Could you make your mortgage payment? What happens to your retirement savings? What happens to Junior’s college fund?
You may have some coverage already, and believe that means that you are “covered.” Do you know how much coverage you actually have, and under what circumstances the policy will pay out? You may be under the impression that government benefits will kick in. Do you know what government benefits are available, and under what circumstances? These are mighty important questions to leave to chance.
By the way, many people think that they have adequate coverage because they have something through work, or because they signed up for disability coverage when they took out a loan. Tragically, later on some of them find out just what (and what isn’t) covered by these type of polices. It’s not at all unusual for group policies to be inadequate, and its not at all unusual for insurance policies connected to a loan to pay limited, if any, benefits.
Unfortunately, I know this because I have clients in these situations.
Many of my columns come from real life experiences. This is one of them. Last week I received an email. This is what it said:
“I wish I had purchased some sort of disability insurance earlier. I guess it is too late now.”
Don’t put yourself in that position.