The sudden onset of serious ill health which threatens to become prolonged is obviously a worrying matter for anyone, but especially for those in regular employment and who are striving to sustain significant financial commitments. That’s why it is so vital for people in that situation to have an insurance policy on hand that they can fall back on. Thankfully, there is a vast range of health insurance products on the market today that can help you cope with unexpected medical bills, provide income protection and even, in some cases, pay out a lump sum. Four examples are outlined below and each is designed to protect an individual in the different circumstances which may befall.

Critical Illness Insurance – This can pay you a tax-free lump sum if you suffer a serious accident, are laid low by a critical illness resulting from, say, a stroke or heart attack, or you have been diagnosed with cancer. It includes in fact any medical condition which renders you unfit for work either long-term or permanently.

Income Protection Insurance – This will pay you a regular income if you are unable to work due to ill health. The policy will kick in between one day and up to two years after the onset of your inability status. Benefits can be paid until you get better and return to work or even continue, if necessary, right up until you reach retirement age.

Private Medical Insurance – For those who seek a wider scope of choice and control in their medical care which the challenged NHS cannot always guarantee, private medical care is an increasingly attractive option. The advantages of speedier access to consultants and medical services (inpatient and outpatient) are obvious and can in many cases greatly reduce treatment and recovery times.

Long Term Care – Most of us are going to be in need of some kind of care in the autumn of our years, whether that is carried out at home or in some sort of residential establishment, and whether we continue to enjoy relatively good health or need constant nursing care that includes regular medication. Choosing the residential path is a good option for all-round clinical care but, as many have found to their dismay, it can be prohibitively expensive, typically running into many hundreds of pounds per week! The State, of course, can and will step in when circumstances dictate, but those who have assets in the form of capital (including income from pensions and investments) or property should tread warily...

Financial aid from the State is administered on a sliding-scale system with three main funding thresholds; those who surmount the top threshold will find that they are considered to have sufficient resources and will be entitled to no State-funded offset whatsoever. It stands to reason, therefore, that having insurance protection in place to cover long-term care will save a lot of anguish.

Make no mistake: being adequately covered by good insurance products will bring great peace of mind. Nevertheless, before signing up to any particular policy, you should always bear in mind that not all products are regulated by the Personal Investment Authority and it is strongly recommended that you first confer with an independent financial advisor who can give you impartial advice, organise your premium payments and, if and when necessary, make a claim on your behalf.

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