• Autus Team

The financial implications of living with a disability

Article by Andrew Merryweather

In 2006 I was involved in a brutal assault that left me paralysed from the neck down. Thankfully, through years of intensive therapy, I can now use my arms and hands, but it has been a very long and costly journey.

It is incredible how life can change in a second, and the path you had planned out and envisaged takes a complete change in direction.

I was woefully financially unprepared for the mountain of medical expenses and lifestyle adaption bills that followed.

No one had warned me that 'self-insuring' (saving your funds to cover oneself) is generally not a good idea. I depleted all my funds within the first month. The cost of the operation alone, which entailed inserting a part of my right hip bone and a titanium plate into my neck, was well over R100, 000. That was only the beginning of the hundreds of thousands the tally eventually would become. This caused tremendous financial strain on my immediate family.

I now know that financial wellbeing is divided into wealth creation and protection. The former is the more exciting of the two, buying shares and stocks, etc. and watching your wealth grow over time. Without the latter (wealth protection), you build your 'financial balance sheet' on shaky ground. Just as building a house or building starts with a strong foundation building your wealth requires adequate risk insurance. We can all agree that these are grudge purchases, but it is irresponsible to overlook them.

My journey would have been easier if I had the correct risk policies.

In addition to my medical aid, I should have included Gap Cover, Income Protection, Disability Cover and Critical Illness risk policies. This would have resulted in adequate wealth protection, which is the first step in ensuring financial wellbeing.

Medical Aid

Acceptance into a medical aid scheme cannot be declined, and the cover ranges from low-cost hospital plans to comprehensive in and out of hospital benefits.

Gap Cover

There is often a shortfall between the amount your medical aid scheme will pay and what your actual medical bill amounts to when you are admitted to hospital, either as an emergency or for an elective procedure. Having adequate gap cover could take care of any shortfalls that there may arise. There are various levels of cover under this type of insurance, and it is worth exploring what is best suited to your needs.

Life cover

Life insurance is one of the most important investments to protect your family's financial security. It guarantees that your family will have a lump sum to pay off significant financial obligations, a source of income to meet daily living expenses, and major future expenses, such as your children's education.

Disability Cover

Disability insurance offers you protection against the possibility that you may not be able to meet your financial obligations due to an accident or illness. It protects one of your most valuable assets, your earning power. Without disability insurance, you must find other sources of income to replace your lost earnings due to a disability. Most of the alternative options, if they are available to you at all, may be quickly exhausted. That leaves disability insurance as the most viable solution for a long-term disability.

Critical Illness, also is known as Dread Disease cover

Dreaded disease cover does not cover a loss of income or exempt the insured life from any expenses due to medical procedures. It is meant to cover the cost of any adjustments to a new lifestyle and cover the loss of insurability.

At Autus Private Clients, we focus and growing and protecting our clients’ wealth. We are not licenced to provide any advice or intermediary services regarding Medical Aid or Gap Cover; however, we recognize the place that it has in an individual’s financial plan. We can however refer clients to reputable and experienced specialist in this field. Please feel free to contact one of the Advisors at Autus Private Clients if you want a financial needs analysis done.


Autus Private Clients (Pty) Ltd is an authorised financial services provider (FSP 4766) in terms of the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act (Act No. 37 of 2002).