Cancer Costs: Life insurance that prepares you for any scenario


According to CANSA, more than 100 000 South Africans are diagnosed with cancer every year. Currently, it is expected that at least one in four people in South Africa will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their life.

It stands to reason that Discovery Life encourages members to ensure adequate cover for any eventuality. Whether you have a family history of cancer, live healthily or live a lifestyle that could put you at risk of developing cancer, prevention and early detection are important. Having the right level of cover for your needs should be a top priority. This includes adequate life cover, but just as importantly, additional benefits that will ensure the least financial strain from unexpected financial loss, while you are still alive.

While motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for younger clients, older age bands (from 31 years of age and up) have an increasing incidence of cancer. A breakdown of Discovery Life’s 2017 claims experience shows that the top Severe Illness benefit claims payouts by gender were for cancer – 48% for women and 31% for men, followed by heart and artery-related claim pay-outs by Discovery Life, which were at 8% for women and 36% for men. In addition, 34% of death claims for women were due to cancer, and 23% of death claims for men were due to cancer. Cancer is in fact the most common cause of death among female Discovery Life clients. And, in 51- 60-year-old clients of both genders, cancer is the most common cause of death overall, accounting for around 30% of death-related claims.

While highly relevant, life cover in the event of a death is only one part of the equation. Many cancer patients live with the condition for years, requiring cover and financial support that meets their immediate needs while they are still alive.

Protect your income against illness

Your income is your lifeline. It’s how you provide for your family, and secure their future. But have you ever given any thought to what would happen if you were unable to earn an income, due to a cancer diagnosis? You may have comprehensive life insurance that assures your loved ones, through supplying them with funds when you’re not around or a health insurance plan that covers your medical costs, but what about ensuring your income while you are still alive?

Discovery Life’s Income Continuation Benefit is a market-leading product that will provide you with a monthly income if you are unable to work, due to a condition such as cancer. By protecting you against a shortfall in cash flow, the benefit ensures that you and your family can continue living in the manner in which you are accustomed.

Looking at Discovery Life’s 2016 view, 8% of female and 7% of male clients claimed under the Income Continuation Benefit Claims for cancer-related disability.

With the LifeTime Severe Illness Underpin, you could receive up to 215% of your insured amount for up to six months, depending on the long-term lifestyle impact of the Severity A illness (such as Stage IV lung cancer). This is available if a seven-day or one-month waiting period is selected.

If your spouse or child is diagnosed with cancer (Severity A or B), you will receive 100% of your Income Continuation Benefit and Temporary Income Continuation Benefit amount for up to six months to help towards the many cost implications of this diagnosis, also allowing you to take time off work. On an insured amount of R50 000, this could mean an extra income of R50 000 cash on hand when you need it most.

Ensuring you’re comprehensively protected in case of a cancer diagnosis

In addition to ensuring that you are able to cover any additional medical and lifestyle costs that a cancer diagnosis may necessitate, your life plan should also cover you throughout the diagnosis. The Discovery Income Continuation Benefit not only covers your entire family on the Classic and Purple Life Plans, but also pays out to cover your premiums on your other Discovery products when in claim.

This is achieved through the Contribution Protector, which is automatically included on the Comprehensive Income Continuation Benefit, where up to 100% of your Discovery contributions (including Discovery Life, Discovery Health, Discovery Retirement Optimiser, Discovery Insure and Vitality contributions, where applicable) will be covered for up to 24 months.

As a member of a qualifying health plan from a medical scheme administered by Discovery Health, you can also select to add the Medical Premium Waiver Benefit to your policy, which will cover your family’s health plan contributions, if you die or suffer a severe illness, for a period of five or 10 years upon a valid claim. The amount will increase each year in line with the medical scheme contribution increases, up to a maximum of 20% per year.

Discovery Life’s Global Treatment Benefit on the Severe Illness Benefit enables you to receive the best possible treatment through Discovery’s network of international healthcare facilities. This powerful benefit allows you to receive up to 180% (250% on Purple Life Plans) of your Severe Illness Benefit sum assured if you choose to use an overseas treatment facility for the treatment of your cancer.

When it comes to cancer, there is so much more to think about – and plan for – than merely the costs of treatment. Discovery Life is proud to be at the forefront of cancer cover, with industry thought leaders putting their heads together on an ongoing basis, to ensure the best possible safety net for clients who are facing a cancer diagnosis.

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.

Related articles


Why are cancer-related insurance claims important?

How do insurance companies' life and healthcare oncology claims add to the picture of cancer trends in South Africa? Directly or indirectly, cancer affects us all. And, these stats paint a fascinating and relevant picture of cancer in our society


Cancer and your will: leaving a legacy, on your own terms

A cancer diagnosis usually opens the door to difficult but essential conversations that many of us don't want to have. One of these involves talking openly and honestly with loved ones about how you want your estate distributed when you are gone.


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.

Log in

Please click here to login into Discovery Digital Id

Please click here to login into Discovery Digital Id