Self-care: What it means in insurance terms


Don’t discount the need to cover and protect your most important asset: yourself.

There is a worldwide trend which hasn’t escaped South Africa – people are marrying later in life, or not at all. Statistics South Africa recently reported that, in the last decade, there was 37% drop in the number of marriages in the country. Also, the average age for marriage is climbing, to age 34 for men, and 31 for women.

Being single has many benefits, so live your best life, whatever you chose it to be.

At the same time, Discovery Life research shows that younger people don’t believe they need insurance. Early on in their career, on intern- and articles-level salaries, young people might be saddled with student loans or trying to manage expectations that they will help cover broader family expenses,” says Gareth Friedlander, head of research and development at Discovery Life.

“Seeking out insurance cover may not feature high on their list of priorities, when in fact it should.  This is exactly why their biggest assets – their body and mind, and the ability to generate current and future income – needs protection. It doesn’t help that young people are often overly optimistic about their health risks.”

Nobody wants to talk about health risks…

…but it is important. Discovery claims data shows our youngest male claimant, aged 21, died from a heart attack. The youngest female, aged 28, died in a motorbike accident. Young people feature high in the unnatural death statistics – mainly motor-accident related.

Friedlander adds that life insurers are also increasingly seeing younger people claiming for cancer. “People often associate cancer with older people, but the data is showing us that young people are as vulnerable to cancer as older adults.” 

Discovery Life’s research shows that the majority of young people – aged 21 to 30 – who submit cancer-related claims, are diagnosed with haematological or blood cancers, like leukaemia and lymphomas. “These illnesses require chemotherapy, follow-up care and intensive treatment, significantly affecting their ability to continue working,” says Friedlander.

What does that mean for a single, young person? For young professionals, who are in the career-building phase of their working life, the impact of a cancer diagnosis on their ability to work and perform, can be tough. “Consider the impact of a cancer diagnosis on your daily life. You would need significant time off work while you undergo treatment, and to recover. The ability to stop working for the duration of treatment while having sufficient insurance and protection in place, is therefore an important consideration.”

Although research and claims data show that people can be affected by cancer at any age, even when they are young, young people often delay purchasing life insurance until later in life.  “Yet, insurance is still a grudge purchase for many,” adds Friedlander.

What about advanced medical care?

“With ever more cancer research resulting in more advanced, targeted cancer treatment options, treatment is now becoming super specialised. This has resulted in centres of excellence that offer advanced treatment overseas.

“Having to travel overseas for treatment is a scenario we don’t often plan for, but depending on an individual’s circumstances, it could very well be a reality. The costs of global treatment, and the associated costs – like having to stop working, travel costs, accommodation and post-operative care – can be significant.”

Medical technology can also apply to specialised equipment, like smart prosthetic arms and body parts. These could run into millions of Rands

And finally, your commitments are your legacy. 

What kind of legacy do you want to leave to your nearest and dearest?

Think about how your debt (student loan, car or home loan) is covered. Funeral costs, unfortunately, also have to be borne by someone. Will you leave that for someone else to handle, or have it under control, no matter what?

And finally, remember that as a single person, there are those who still value you and your role in their lives. The support you might want to offer to your extended family, your chosen charity or contribution to the education of a favourite niece or nephew, are forms of social good which they will treasure forever.  

This article is meant only as information and should not be taken as financial advice. For tailored financial advice, please contact your financial adviser. Discovery Life Limited. Registration number 1966/003901/06, is a registered long-term insurer, and an authorised financial services and registered credit provider, NCR registration number NCRCP3555. Product rules, terms and conditions apply.

Severe illness can be life-changing. Discovery is here for you

At Discovery, we understand that an illness like cancer affects many aspects of your life. If you're a Discovery Health Medical Scheme member who is diagnosed with cancer, you are covered by a comprehensive Oncology Programme. You'll also have access to a palliative care programme, which offers unlimited cover for approved care at home.

To protect you financially in case of a life-changing event, Discovery Life offers the best severe illness product in the market for cancer cover, as awarded by the Independent Clinical Oncology Network. Our award-winning LifeTime Max 200% Severe Illness Benefit offers coverage across the full spectrum of severities and remission of cancer. Contact us to learn more

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