I got cancer and didn't know I was covered by my life insurance

Fact Checked
Updated 23/01/2024
I got cancer and didn't know I was covered by my life insurance

Lloyd's life changed forever when he got his diagnosis.

Time to read : 3 Minutes

I Got Cancer And Didn't Know I Was Covered - This Is How My Trauma Insurance Saved Me

Every year in Australia, 151,000 of us will be diagnosed with cancer – and of those, 49,000 will die.

🎗️Breast cancer is the most common type, followed by prostate cancer.

💰According to the Cancer Council, out-of-pocket costs for cancer can be huge too, with some gap payments for treatments, scans, tests and necessary equipment like compression garments not always covered by Medicare.

🫶It's an all-too-familiar reality for many Australians, including Lloyd Back, whose cancer diagnosis changed his life. This is his story as told to Martine.

Lloyd's diagnosis came out of the blue

"Getting my diagnosis definitely came as quite a shock and, probably like many people, both my wife and I thought we hadn't heard the specialist properly. 

We were both in a bit of a daze initially when we started the process of cancelling and changing our plans in order to prepare for surgery, treatment and recovery.In the end, we chose to tell only the closest of family, friends and employers what was happening."

He adds that it was really difficult to inform his children and family, and led him to re-prioritise a lot of his life circumstances.

It's really hard on people you care about too.

"One thing I learned was that the whole cancer journey is very hard for loved ones as well as the patient, and I know it was very hard for my wife. We both had different challenges to face."

My wife was extremely supportive – and way better at understanding medical information and discussions than I am. 

But I know it was a scary time for her and there were times where she was very good at putting on a brave face – when there was a lot of uncertainty in her world."

Lloyd was one of the lucky ones:

They could treat his cancer before it was too late.

"I was really blessed to receive a very positive prognosis. And my surgeon and oncologist gave me a very accurate description of what to expect and how to best recover. "

I have always been a person to rest whenever I've been unwell, so that is what I did and it worked well.  It also helped that my employers were also very understanding and supportive. 

I also received excellent care from the various medical people that I dealt with on the journey, which made it all much easier.

Everything was made much easier by Lloyd's insurance.

"I never thought I would need to use it, and I can't remember exactly how long I have had my life/trauma insurance, but I think it is easily more than 20 years."

He goes on to say that he took out his life cover to protect and provide for his family, if something happened to him - and it's lucky he did.

"My insurance ended up helping all of us – I didn't even know I was covered for getting sick."

Rachel from Compare Club called me and when she heard I had cancer she checked and found I was covered under my trauma insurance. 

Lloyd's insurer - Zurich - were very good at processing his claim quickly and approved it within a few days. 

This made everything so much easier for Lloyd and his family. All he had to do after that was focus on his recovery.

Now, Lloyd tells people...

"Talk to your insurance company or broker about any life-changing events, or if you have questions about your cover."

10 things you need to know about trauma insurance

Compare Club Life Insurance Expert Lisa Varker says that people often don't realise how much trauma insurance can cover.

  1. People often know they have cover but not what triggers a payment – particularly trauma as they can often still be working and don't realise that they can claim.

  2. It's not UNCOMMON to discover an old claimable event well after the fact during a policy review. 

  3. I've had a client that I'd rung to review their policy with and mentioned the insured events for trauma – one being Parkinson's and then the client interrupts to say I was diagnosed with that a year ago – which was a full claim.

  4. The same thing happened with a client who had breast cancer and needed a mastectomy. They rang to see if any of their policies cover breast reconstruction and it turned out they were entitled to a full trauma claim.

  5. The other one that is often missed is that a specified injury is covered in some income protection benefits – e.g. it could cover broken bones immediately. The level of trauma cover I often recommend is $500,000 – enough to cover all bills and potentially be used for alternative treatment. 

  6. The last two clients I have that had breast cancer claims both had over $500,000 of cover – and they all cry when you tell them they are getting a payout.

  7. We had a client a few weeks ago with over $1,000,000 paid out for a mild heart attack.

  8. Some clients choose to get occupational cover too – with income protection and total permanent disability insurance, trauma can also be a good option.

  9. Some older IP policies (pre-reforms 10/2021) include crisis/trauma benefits as an additional  paid for benefit or built into the Plus contacts. These usually pay out six months of your income protection benefit in a lumpsum on diagnosis.

  10. Trauma is the most expensive cover – due to the higher chance of claims – in your 20s cover might only cost $60 a month but in your 50s you might be paying $600 a month. I pay about $3,000 a year for my policy.

The bottom line

Cancer affects too many of us, but there is help out there – both with cover and services.

🫶 Talk about it – sharing with your network can help you process what is happening.

📔 Keep a journal – it's important to have an outlet for all the emotions you are having.

☎️ If it all gets too much – reach out to the experts to help you, they are there for you.

The information contained on this web page is of general nature only and has been prepared without taking into consideration your objectives, needs and financial situation. You should check with a financial professional before making any decisions. Any opinions expressed within an article are those of the author and do not specifically reflect the views of Compare Club Australia Pty Ltd.