Posted on Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Difference Between Dread Disease Cover & Disability Cover

Do you have dread disease cover or disability cover? Many South Africans are either underinsured for these situations or have no cover at all. What would happen to your financial situation if you became disabled or if you were diagnosed with a life-altering disease?

For many, this means looking after their loved ones and covering expenses related to their own care becomes a battle. First For Women knows that a lot of women play key roles in their families and provide disability and dread disease cover to help them cover expenses in dire situations. But what kind of conditions does this insurance cover? First, let’s understand the difference between the two types of cover.

 What is a dread disease?

 Dread diseases are life-threatening or debilitating conditions that can have a massive negative impact on your life. They also affect more people than you imagine. For example, did you know that heart disease, one of the most deadly dread diseases, kills 225 South Africans daily[1]?

There are several conditions that are classified as dread diseases, including:

  • Major organ failures of the kidney, heart, lung or liver

  • Blindness

  • Brain damage

  • Alzheimer’s disease

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Paralysis

  • Cancer

  • Chronic coronary heart disease

  • Chronic liver disease

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Major burns

  • Stroke

  • Paraplegia or quadriplegia

Imagine how your life and those of the people you look after would change if you were afflicted with any of these conditions.

Although there are multiple dread diseases, there are four that contribute to at least 70% of dread disease claims: cancer, coronary artery bypass grafts, heart attacks and strokes. Three of these conditions are related to the heart and can often go undiagnosed until it’s too late. Did you know that the late Miriam Makeba—Mama Afrika herself—unexpectedly died of a heart attack soon after performing at a concert in Italy?

Cancer can take many forms, some of which are more debilitating than others. According to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA)[2], the top three cancers diagnosed among women in 2019 were the breast, cervix, and skin (specifically, basal cell carcinoma or BCC). A similar 2018 CANSA report shows the same three types of cancer leading the pack.

Millions of people worldwide and in South Africa suffer from dementia, and, as we get older, the risk increases. One of the common types of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, an illness that destroys thinking cells and memory. The 2011 South African Census estimated that 2.2 million people in the country were living with some type of dementia. 

What is considered a disability in South Africa? 

If you meet 100 different people in South Africa, nearly eight of them will have some form of disability. According to Stats SA, the percentage of women with disability is 8.3%[3] slightly higher than that of men at 6.5%. As we grow older, we’re also more likely to report having a disability.

What is a disability really? The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC)[4] considers disability as the loss of equal access to opportunities incurred by individuals with temporary or permanent impairments.

A person can suffer various types of impairments, including learning, sensory, physical, neurological, psychological or developmental ones. Any of these could limit a person’s activity and sideline them from mainstream society.

A person may be born with a disability such as deafness, blindness or language and speech disorder, or incur a disability later in life. The disability that occurs later in life can completely alter a person’s life. For example, they may have to learn how to use a wheelchair if they’ve lost both legs due to a vehicle accident. Think for a second how many flights of stairs you have to navigate on a daily basis. Now imagine trying to go about a normal day without being able to use them. 

Anyone can become disabled at any time, whether at work or home. Unfortunately, despite the protections provided to disabled workers by South Africa’s Employment Equity Act, a disability could still force you to completely stop working depending on the nature of your disability. 

How does dread disease cover work?

If you’re diagnosed with a critical illness that your dread disease cover lists, your insurer will provide financial protection. Typically, a dread disease policy is like life insurance in that your insurer pays out a lump sum amount of money if you’re you’re diagnosed with a listed illness.

It’s hard to predict a dread disease or critical illness, especially as humans tend to live longer in modern times and have access to better nutrition and medical care. The best you can do is to protect yourself and loved ones financially in case you develop a severe illness or condition This is where First for Women recommends getting life insurance or more specifically, dread disease cover. 

How you use the money will depend on your personal situation. You may use the money to:

  • Cover medical expenses the medical aid may not cover

  • Adapt your car or home to cater to any new needs

  • Settle outstanding debt, or cover other expenses. 

When choosing a dread disease cover, check to verify whether it’s standalone insurance or combined with life cover. If it is blended with life cover, your dread disease cover claim will impact your life insurance cover.

The benefit amount you receive may vary depending on the stage of your illness. For example, if you’re diagnosed with early cancer, your insurer might pay you 25% of the insured amount while in the later stages, the payout could be 75%. 

How does disability cover work?

Disability cover protects the most important financial asset you have in today’s society: your ability to generate income. A disability demands altering your lifestyle, often making it difficult both emotionally, mentally, and financially. If you’re no longer able to work, this insurance can pay you a lump sum amount of money to cover various expenses, including:

  • Regular monthly costs

  • Accessibility modifications to your car or home

  • Pay off debt

A permanent disability might leave you dependent on certain out-of-pocket medications, which is why you’ll need regular income. Fortunately, disability cover benefits will help cover such costs.

When you take out this cover, you enter into an agreement with an insurer to payout in case of your disability in exchange for a monthly premium. The exact amount of premium you pay depends on the size of cover you want and your personal circumstances.

Your policy will spell out your premium, benefits, and the benefit period. Often, disability cover policies pay 60% to 80% of your latest taxable income before the disability. You can apply for both life and disability cover with First for Women. 

 Get dread disease cover or life policy quote from First For Women

 Are you prepared for life if you become disabled or incur a dread disease? Thankfully, First for Women can help you lessen your financial burden in such cases. Get a life policy quote that includes dread disease and disability cover online today for disability or dread disease cover and find out how First For Women could protect you financially during those tough times.



[1] Heart & Stroke Foundation: 225 South Africans are killed by heart disease everyday

[2] Cancer Association of South Africa: Cancer Statistics 

[3] Stats SA: Stats SA profiles person with disabilities 

[4] SAHRC: Disability Toolkit 


Disclaimer: The information in this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal, or medical advice.

First for Women is a licensed non-life Insurer and FSP

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