Tony: Is critical illness a serious issue that people often overlook?


Brad: Non-profit organisations such as PinkDrive have done a lot to generate awareness. The sad reality is that a lot of the awareness has also come from the fact that most people have been affected in some way. If not themselves directly, there’s always someone – either a family member or a close friend – who they know who has had cancer. So, I think it’s become top of mind for all of us.


Tony: Do you think there are misperceptions when it comes to Critical Illness cover that influence a lot of people not taking it up?  


Brad: Our experience and research tells us that the Critical Illness cover available out there is not ideally suited to the actual experience people go through. We launched our Critical Illness product around 2 years ago and it was through the experience of a family friend and watching the journey she took and how it affected her whole family that we got together as a team at FMI and said, ‘how do we build a product that will help people?’.


We conducted countless interviews speaking to individuals who had been diagnosed, who were going through treatment or who had recovered, and the amazing thing was that there was so much consistency with everyone’s story and everyone’s journey.


What struck me the most was so little of the need was merely around money to pay for medical expenses because in reality, with a strong medical aid, most of that is taken care of. What people spoke about was the pain and the trauma that really affects everyone, whether we’re talking about cancer, a stroke or a heart attack - this is something that affects the individual and their family, and the affect is not just financial, but also has a strong emotional and mental impact.


These are some of the areas we tried to take care of in our product development. The financial need is obviously there and we address this in our product, but we found that no other product in the market had properly addressed the emotional aspects.


Tony: What is different with what you’ve done with regards to Critical Illness cover?


Brad: There were clear needs that emerged from the research we conducted.


The first thing is that people are looking for peace of mind. There were so many people I spoke to who said, ‘if only I had free Wifi because I spent every evening on Google trying to find out more about my disease’.  People have a desperate need for knowledge about their illness, to make sure they have the right diagnoses and are getting the right treatment. And to solve this need, we offer Medical Second Opinion. This service gives you a second opinion on both your diagnosis and your treatment plan from a choice of over 100 leading medical centres from around the world. So, this fulfills the peace of mind that people so desperately need.


The second need is money to cover the costs associated with treatment and medical expenses. The other was sufficient money to cover monthly expense. People’s lives, and the way they live, fundamentally changes forever on diagnosis of a critical illness – people take supplements, they change the way they eat, they exercise more. We identified a strong need to cover these additional monthly expenses as well as their usual income because people wanted to have the choice of returning to work or not. They didn’t want to be forced to go back because they couldn’t afford otherwise. We found that for some people, returning to work kept their mind off their illness, and for others, they said they couldn’t handle the pressure of work and wanted to stay at home with their families. So, we created an income benefit that pays 130% of your income for 12 months regardless of whether you continue to work or not – to give you the option to make that choice for yourself and to take as much time as you need.


And then the final component was around the family and the emotional impact. So, we introduced benefits that included counselling and trauma support for individuals as well as their families, and a suite of benefits to help take care of the day to day issues. It’s hard enough to get through the day when you’re healthy but when you add on the physical effects of chemo on top of taking the kids to school, household duties and cooking dinner, it’s very hard. So, our benefit also includes services like an au pair and transportation just to make day to day life a little bit easier.


The lump sum pay-out is still a key component of our product and it provides wide coverage, but to really address the holistic impact for an individual, we have introduced these other benefits as well.


For more information about our Critical Illness solution, go to or contact us on 086 010 1119.

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