Member Story: Protect Against Setbacks With Critical Illness Insurance

November 15, 2017Building Your Future

Until it happens to you or someone you love, there is no way to completely understand an illness or a disability. I still tell people that I feel like I lived in a cave for 42 years until December 22nd, 2005 when I walked onto a pediatric cancer floor at McMaster Children’s Hospital. Together with my daughter and son-in-law we carried my 17-month-old granddaughter Mia, into the world of cancer, where so many families were already facing their worst nightmare.

Mia was diagnosed with a stage four cancer called Neuroblastoma, which affects between 50 and 70 Canadian children per year. Within days of the diagnosis, we could see the bruises from large tumours pressing on her eyes and face and we were terrified. Her oncologist told us she had “widespread metastasized disease from head to toe”. The cancer was everywhere and he said, “It is very unlikely that Mia will live to see her second birthday”. I admit that as I hugged my weeping daughter, I felt defeated. But in that moment I also knew that we would not be fighting alone. I surrendered my fears to God – knowing that His grace would sustain my family just like 2 Corinthians 12:9 where it says, “…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Through two years of grueling treatment, my family experienced grace sufficient for each day.

Bravery beads are given to pediatric oncology patients throughout North America for every needle poke, surgery, blood transfusion, and procedure as reminder of how brave these precious children must be to fight for their lives. In 2005/2006, Mia received enough bravery beads to fill five long necklaces.

  • 134 beads for blood transfusions
  • 6 beads for chemotherapy treatments
  • 12 beads for radiation treatments
  • 1 silver bead for a transplant at Sick Kids Hospital

Today, this Mam-ma (Grandma) is both thrilled and humbled to tell you that Mia is 13 years old and she is free from cancer. Not a day goes by that my family doesn’t thank God for His beautiful, sustaining grace in our fight for Mia’s life.

The reason I share this story now is because after six years as the Marketing and Outreach Manager at FaithLife Financial, I fully understand how Canadian families can protect themselves against setbacks associated with the unexpected events that alter our lives.

I know we don’t like to think about insuring ourselves, much less our children, because it all seems so morbid. But I can tell you from experience that our journey would have been much easier if someone had talked to us before this happened about planning for things that bring added financial strain.

The Canadian healthcare system pays for much of our critical medical treatment, but it doesn’t cover hundreds of dollars for monthly parking fees, gas, food, and lodging away from home. Nor does it pay for the thousands of dollars in lost income of a close family member, who becomes a caregiver. Occasionally, for some families the extraordinary burden of expensive treatments, not covered in Canada, are also added to the list. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for the generosity of family, friends and perfect strangers who heard about Mia’s illness, my family would have crumbled under the financial strain of this. After living through this experience, I encourage people to consider critical illness as part of a solid financial plan.

I recently purchased critical illness for myself because my health and my ability to earn an income is my most important asset. Without it, if I became ill and needed special treatment or care, my greatest asset could easily turn into a liability. I like to think about critical illness insurance as a “living benefit” that I could use to offset lost income and pay additional expenses that are inevitable with illness. For me, it’s like having a moat around my savings so that if the unexpected strikes, I don’t have to touch my RRSPs or use a line of credit.

While Canadian families are not strangers to critical illnesses, too many of them are strangers to critical illness insurance. A recent poll found that nearly two-thirds (65%) of Canadians with children still living at home don’t have critical illness insurance.


  • Pays a lump sum benefit when someone is diagnosed with a covered critical illness and survives the waiting period, typically 30 days.
  • Is typically sold in terms of 10-years and 20-years, to the age of 75 or the age of 100, with the option to lock in premiums.
  • Policies can range from covering a single critical condition (cancer) to many (typically 24+).
  • A variety of “riders” are available for the following optional benefits:
    > return-of-premium, after a designated time you may cancel your coverage and
    have your premium returned;
    > second-event, which offers limited coverage if you are diagnosed with a second
    critical illness;
    > loss of independent existence;
    > disability waiver of premium, which means you do not need to pay the premium
    if you’ve been totally disabled for 90 days.

As Canadians, we are proud of our healthcare system and we take pride in the fact that we receive outstanding treatment for critical illnesses. Critical illness insurance emerged for that very reason – advances in medical treatment saved us from illnesses that were once life-ending events. The gap in planning arose from a lack of understanding associated with the cost of survival.

If you were facing a life-threatening illness, would you value having access to extra cash to help see you and your family through? Owning critical illness insurance is about giving you and your family choices in case of the unexpected.

Protect Against Setbacks

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Marta LoFranco is FaithLife Financial’s Manager of Marketing and Outreach. She lives with her husband in Kitchener, Ontario and is the mother of four grown children and Mam-ma to 4 grandchildren. Marta is passionate about her faith and is active in a local Presbyterian congregation along with her family.





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