Are you adequately covered for a cancer diagnosis?


A cancer diagnosis has both physical, emotional, and also financial implications. How can you be sure that you are adequately covered ahead of a cancer diagnosis? The answer lies in a combination of medical scheme cover and life insurance.

Over and above a consideration of medical costs, those diagnosed with cancer also need to think about the likelihood that they may be unable to work in the short or long term. Patients may go into remission and then relapse a year later with added health and financial consequences.

Discovery has considered these scenarios and structured Discovery Life’s various plans to cover every eventuality. Our aim is to ensure that members diagnosed with cancer can focus on receiving the treatment they need, without having to shoulder the worries associated with the financial cost of cancer.

Life insurance and cancer

A breakdown of Discovery Life’s 2017 claims experience shows that top Severe Illness benefit-related claim pay-outs by gender were for cancer, with 48% of female and 31% of male claims arising from cancer. This was followed by heart and artery-related claim pay-outs by Discovery Life, which stood at 8% for women and 36% for men.

What is the likelihood that you may have a subsequent illness that is the same or related to a previous illness? Looking at multiple claims paid out under Discovery Life’s Severe Illness Benefit, 29% of multiple claimants for cancer had their previous claim for cancer as well. Furthermore, the majority of subsequent claims occur in the same body system (i.e. if a first claim was for a condition related to cancer, there was a 78% incidence of subsequent claims being cancer-related). Therefore, a comprehensive multiple claims facility like the one offered by Discovery Life allows you to claim for related conditions for subsequent claims.

Figures show that 29% of female clients and 26% of male clients claimed under Discovery Life’s Capital Disability Benefit for cancer, which pays a lump sum amount if a client becomes disabled. Where people had an initial Capital Disability Benefit claim related to cancer, 100% of their subsequent claims related to cancer.

In recognition of the significant cancer coverage across the full spectrum of severities as well as coverage for the remission of a cancer, the LifeTime Max 200% Severe Illness Benefit was awarded the best dread disease product in the market for cancer cover by the Independent Clinical Oncology Network.

A range of options through comprehensive Life cover

The Discovery Life Plan is one of the most comprehensive life cover plans on the market. Offering more than life insurance, it’s a collection of customisable benefits that cover the full range of possible life-changing events, with flexible benefits that adapt as your circumstances change.

These include:

  • Financial protection against severe illness: Discovery Life’s Severe Illness Benefit

When a person is diagnosed with cancer, they face a number of expenses over and above the cost of treatment or their hospital stays. They may have to settle outstanding debt or other liabilities, as well as cover ancillary costs such as home modifications, special equipment (such as a wheelchair or safety rails) and additional travel expenses to facilitate treatment and more. Discovery Life’s Severe Illness Benefit provides clients with a lump-sum payout in the event of severe illness, which can help to cover these costs.

The benefit covers all major body systems and automatically covers you for multiple claims. Automatic cover for your children and parents is included on the Classic and Purple Life Plans, at no additional cost. You may claim 5% of your Severe Illness Benefit, up to R250 000 for a child or a parent (R135 000 on Classic and R250 000 on Purple Life Plans), and the benefit is payable where a child or parent are diagnosed with any of the stated cancers or severe illnesses for which the main life is insured.

A breakdown of Discovery Life’s 2017 claims experience shows that 48% of female and 31% of male clients claimed under the Severe Illness Benefit for cancer-related conditions, with the highest claims in women linked to breast cancers (those aged 31 and over) and haematological cancers (21 to 30-year olds), while respiratory, prostate and skin cancers feature prominently among male members.

  • How does the claims process work?

Upon diagnosis, it is vital to contact your Discovery Life financial adviser, who will facilitate your claim submission. You will need to fill in your claim form and submit it along with your oncologist’s report. Once your claim and all supporting documentation have been received, it takes approximately 48 hours for it to be reviewed, assessed and to be paid out (if approved) to give you the lifeline you need, when you need it.

  • How long are you covered for?

On all of Discovery Life’s benefits, you can choose to be covered until you are 65 or for the rest of your life. Discovery Life’s LifeTime Severe Illness Benefit is designed to protect policyholders against the lifestyle impact of a severe illness. It is the only benefit in the market that takes the long-term impact of an illness into account, allowing Discovery Life to boost a client’s payment to up to 215%. This ensures clients are fully and efficiently covered for all illnesses.

  • Cancer relapse benefit

Often, patients recover after treatment, only to relapse a year or two later. The emotional and financial strain of a relapse can be even more devastating than that experienced at the first round of cancer. By selecting our LifeTime Severe Illness Benefit on a Classic or Purple Life Plan, you receive a market-first cancer relapse benefit that pays you an additional 50% or 100% (depending on the LifeTime option you select) of your sum assured, on recurrence of a cancer after a one-year remission period. You can receive up to two pay-outs under this benefit for a sequence of related cancers.

  • Comprehensive cover for early cancers

There is a perception that only late stage cancers can be financially crippling. While many people are lucky enough to detect a cancer early, they may be shocked to realise that their dread disease cover only kicks in, in the later stages of cancer. This means that they are liable for the costs of treating early stage cancer. To ensure you have help every step of the way on a cancer journey, you can claim against the Early Cancer Benefit on qualifying Severe Illness Benefits, which provides up to R160 000 for 17 in-situ (pre-stage 1) cancer diagnoses, including melanoma and cancers of the thyroid, ovaries, stomach and lungs, among others.

With a number of life-changing benefits designed to ensure you are covered for any eventuality, Discovery Life’s Severe Illness Benefit has been endorsed the number 1 and 2 Oncology protection benefit by the Independent Clinical Oncology network. To find out more, speak to your Discovery Life broker.

All medical information found on this website including content, graphics and images, is for educational and informational objectives only. Discovery Health publishes this content to help to empower cancer patients and their families by promoting a better understanding of a cancer diagnosis. The views expressed by all of the contributing healthcare providers are their independent, professional medical opinions, aimed at supporting patients. These views do not necessarily constitute the views of Discovery Health.


The Discovery Health Medical Scheme is an independent non-profit entity governed by the Medical Schemes Act, and regulated by the Council for Medical Schemes. It is administered by a separate company, Discovery Health (Pty) Ltd, an authorised financial services provider.

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