Episode 8 | Protecting Your Income

Hi Everyone!

Today we are thrilled to have Kara Gammell joining us on the podcast.

Kara is an award winning financial journalist with a passion for talking about money, shown in her money saving blog ‘Your Best Friends Guide to Cash‘ and book that you can buy here.

Kara is a big advocate of income protection. In this episode she talks about her childhood living in a household where both parents were medically retired and claiming on income protection.

Hearing Kara talk about how income protection supported her parents, really brings home what we are trying to achieve within the insurance world.

Our 3 key takeaways:

  1. The non-monetary benefits of income protection.
  2. The value of income protection to the policyholder’s family.
  3. Two case studies from the Seven Families campaign.

As with all of our episodes, we love your feedback! Please let us know what you think and if you have any suggestions for future episodes pop up a message.

Come back to listen to us in a couple of weeks time when we are going to be talking about diabetes.

Kathryn:       Hi everyone, this is episode eight and today we have our third guest on the podcast, Kara Gammell, a freelance financial journalist.  Hi Kara!

Kara:           Hello.

Andrew:       Hi Kara.  So how are we all today?  How – how are you doing Kara – in these – are we still on strange and unprecedented times or – we – we’re new normal times now aren’t we?  So how –

Kara:           Yeah, I feel like it’s becoming normal now, you know?  It’s – it’s just – the problem is it’s uncertain because you don’t know how long it’s going to go on for.  But we – we’re hanging in there.  And the sunshine helps I think.

Andrew:       Yes.

Kathryn:       Definitely does.  Sunshine definitely helps.  We had a lovely – as I say like on Friday being a Bank Holiday we promised the kids that Mummy Headmistress would go away and Daddy wouldn’t be sort of locked up in a room and we just spent time outside in the sun.  We’re lucky to have a garden and it was just really – it was just nice just to do that because, you know, it’s – I think with a lot of people – all parents at the moment, it’s incredibly intense having children and trying to work and not – no one being able to escape at any point as well and just sort of like have maybe even a few minutes with your own head.  It’s all a little bit intense but –

Kara:           I often feel like I’m trying to do two things all day but I’m also – I feel like I’m only doing a – like a half – you know, I’m not doing very good at either one of my jobs.

Kathryn:       Yeah, absolutely.

Kara:           I’m not smashing it in the home school and I’m not doing a lot – doing great at work and so now I try and do everything I can in the morning home school-wise and that takes the pressure off.  But it’s just – it’s quite stressful but luckily everybody – I think everyone is kind of, you know, this is the new normal.  We can’t compare ourselves to what our productivity was like, you know, a few months ago.

Kathryn:       Absolutely.

Andrew:       Yeah it’s definitely – I’m a great believer that I worry generally when I think something’s going well, then that probably means something else isn’t and more so now than ever.  If I think I’ve cracked home schooling or work it definitely means the other one is about to come crashing down.

Kara:           Yeah.

Andrew:       But that kind of general level of slightly failing at both is about my –

Kara:           Yeah I think everybody is like that.  I like to set my expectations low.

Andrew:       Yeah.

Kara:           And then I’m pleasantly surprised and I feel I’m high-fiving myself at home here.

Andrew:       Yeah so that’s set for the rest of the podcast – let’s try –

Kara:           It’s a great motto isn’t it?

Andrew:       Yeah, brilliant.

Kara:           Inspirational.  Put that on a t-shirt.

Kathryn:       Brilliant.

Andrew:       So – so last week on the podcast we had another guest, Steve Casey, on.  He took part in our truth or lie feature.  So I said that since lockdown had begun, I had taken up unicycling.  Kathryn said she’d started playing the flute and Steve said pre-lockdown he had nutmegged Kevin Keegan.  Now we realised in all of our technical talk that we do on this podcast around medical conditions and insurance, we had forgotten to explain what nutmegged meaned – meant, sorry.  So for Kathryn and others’ benefits, nutmegging in football is where you kind of kick the ball through someone’s legs and run round the other side.  Kevin Keegan was a very good footballer.

Kathryn:       Ah.

Andrew:       A very long time ago.  He says bravely with Steve not on the podcast.  So – so suffice to say, I was very impressed by Steve’s claim whereas Kathryn –

Kathryn:       So who do you think’s telling a lie Kara?

Kara:           Well, okay, you said that you’d been learning the flute and I have seen you on Twitter playing away so I know that is correct and I – considering I didn’t know who Kevin Keegan was, I assumed that wasn’t a member of Steve Casey’s household.  So I think Andrew you’ve taken up unicycling and Steve Casey was telling a fib.

Kathryn:       Well it was actually Andrew that was lying.  Now I have to say, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Andrew but he’s about eight foot tall so I think if there was a – there was a unicycle in the land that would be suitable – I think, you know when you see those people, like the street entertainers and they suddenly come out with a unicycle and you’re like ‘Look, look how tall it is, it’s like 15 foot in the air,’ he would need that one.

Kara:           Okay.  Hard to – hard to tell on a – on a Zoom call.

Andrew:       I need – I do need ways to subtly – I’m actually sat by the wine rack here.  I feel like I should know that I can reach the top, the top bottle.  It’s quite strange meeting new people virtually and actually not being able to be tall.

Kara:           Yeah.

Kathryn:       That’s –

Kara:           That’s quite a leveller I guess.

Andrew:       Yeah, absolutely, yeah.  Yeah.

Kara:           Really, yeah.

Andrew:       I kind of – sit up straight.  But yes, I haven’t taken up unicycling.  Steve has, at some point in the past pre-lockdown, nutmegged Kevin Keegan.

Kara:           Oh pre-lockdown.  I see.

Andrew:       Yeah.  Which he can impress you about in a bar at some point post-lockdown.

Kara:           Yeah, I’ll have to ask all about it then.

Andrew:       Yes.

Kara:           I’ll have to do my research and find out who Kevin Keegan is.  In my defence, I’m Canadian so nothing I – I only know anything post-2003.

Andrew:       Yeah, okay.

Kara:           When I came over.

Kathryn:       That’s fine.  Also in my defence, I hate football.  So –

Kara:           You’ve got three boys.

Kathryn:       I know, rugby – rugby all the way.

Kara:           Oh okay.

Kathryn:       They’re also into cricket.  There seems to be a weird cricket thing around here and I’ve never really – yeah, so apparently they’re really into cricket.  So Kara, can you please tell our listeners a bit about yourself?

Kara:           Sure.  I am a freelance financial journalist.  I’ve been working in newspapers and magazines for, I don’t know 12, 14 years something like that.  But I write a lot about protection and the importance of income protection because I personally am a massive believer in it which is kind of unusual for a – a younger woman who’s not necessarily in the industry.  But I grew up in a household with two sick parents and both of them fortunately had policies in place which meant that we were able to still, you know, live in our home while they were unwell.  And both of them retired in their 40s so it was, you know, quite a long period.

Kathryn:       Yeah and I know you do quite a lot of it with the Income Protection Task Force.

Kara:           Yes.  So I write – I write a column for the Income Protection Task Force every month and work with them just trying to get the message out because I feel – I write a blog as well.  It’s called Your Best Friend’s Guide to Cash and I think, as a journalist – I – I used to write for The Telegraph and that was, you know, the money sections of the newspaper are read by a very specific type of reader, not necessarily my girlfriends I have found.

Kathryn:       Yeah.

Kara:           We don’t really have time to read the weekend papers unfortunately but they still need access to financial information and tips.  So that’s why I started up my blog called Your Best Friend’s Guide to Cash ‘cos it’s like I’m explaining it to my friends when we’re on a playdate type thing.  And so with income protection I would talk about how I was, you know, I had the insurance but none of my girlfriends – like literally none of them had it because they would see themselves as not the breadwinner and they don’t make enough money to cover it and it’s, you know – but they all had life insurance because they were prompted to take that out when they got their mortgage.

Kathryn:       Yeah.

Kara:           So with the Income Protection Task Force I’ve been trying to kind of talk about it but in, you know, a real person’s view if you see what I mean rather than an industry or an adviser sort of thing.

Kathryn:       Absolutely.

Andrew:       No that makes sense.  So – so in terms of what happened to you and your story then Kara growing up and I guess most of us – most people don’t go through what you went through so are you able to talk a bit more about what happened then and kind of share that experience?

Kara:           Yeah sure.  I think – so – the funny thing is that when it’s your own life, you don’t really know any different.  So I grew up with sick parents but I’ll tell you right now, they’re both still alive and they were on a Zoom family phone call last night.  My Dad’s 71, my Mum is 67 although she would be vague about that.  And so basically when I was 12 in 1992, my Dad was a headmaster in a secondary school and he was giving a presentation at the school board in front of the chief executive and everything and had a heart attack and he was rushed to the hospital and he was given a very bleak outcome because he was inoperable due to a number of complications so they pretty much gave him three months to live.  And, you know, I found – when I was 12 I found the funeral plans, you know, like it was – as you do, you know when you’re 12 – I don’t know about you, but I used to root through things all the time.

Kathryn:       Absolutely.

Kara:           Yeah, I was very nosy.  So they didn’t leave them out but I found them.  And so my Dad – he ended up being able to have a balloon procedure, like an angioplasty but that was only kind of like a 50/50 chance but it was better than nothing.  Fortunately he came through that but the – and I actually brought the balloon to a show and tell once to school because it saved my Dad’s life.

Andrew:       Wow.

Kathryn:       Wow.

Kara:           And – yeah, it’s kind of random now that I think about it but he – as a result he had to have as little stress as possible so he wasn’t able to go back to work ‘cos his job was a very stressful job and that was quite a blow to him.  He was 42, he was in his prime, he loved his job, he was passionate about it.  He had a real soft spot for at-risk youth and – but yeah, so he had to stop working and so at that time my Mum worked.  She was – she owned a nursery, they’re called a pre-school in Canada – and she was able to still work at that time but my Dad – I guess it must be quite a blow from when you’re kind of the breadwinner to then, you know, start worrying about money and luckily he had insurance in place that he had taken out when he started teaching for this very kind of thing happening.

And at the time his friends told him, you know, ‘Frank, you’re wasting your money.  You know, you’re not – why are you throwing your money at that?’  And thank God he did because he – his policy paid out until his retirement at 65 and, you know, I’m – I like to say that I kind of – I’m an example of how bad luck can happen but not just once but twice in a household.  So when my Mum was 48 she retired because she has MS and so suddenly I was in I think Grade 12 and – so like just about to leave school and both of my parents were at home working.  I mean, it did have a benefit.  I get to have breakfast, lunch and supper with my parents every day because they make you walk home from school in Canada at lunchtime.

Kathryn:       Oh right.

Kara:           You don’t – it doesn’t matter the weather, you’ve got to walk on home and walk back in an hour.  Like a kilometre each way.

Kathryn:       Wow.

Kara:           And – I know.  I know, that’s – I’m going to use that when Audrey complains when she’s older [all laugh] but also, you know, it certainly had its benefits but from my parents’ point of view it meant that they could actually follow the doctors’ orders and do the type of lifestyle that would help their health rather than make it worse but from my point of view as a teenager, and as you know when you’re a teenager it’s kind of all about you – you’re very kind of self – well you don’t, you’re 12, you know, you don’t really know any different and from my point of view it meant that I was able to stay in the family home that I grew up in.  We stayed in the same street so I still had my neighbours.  Because my Dad was in and out of hospital a lot for the first couple of years and very unexpectedly, you know, he would have angina or something and they’d have to go.

So our neighbours were there to look in on us.  My girlfriends, my friends were all around and so that really provided a constant support that I needed and probably didn’t realise.  And also it gave my parents, you know, the peace of mind they didn’t have to worry about paying the bills.

Kathryn:       Well that sounds sort of like incredible.  I don’t think I’ve necessarily thought of it so much but it what really sort of sounds from what you’ve said is that, you know, by having income protection your Dad didn’t have to go back to work so he could follow doctors’ orders because if he had gone back then the Zoom call yesterday could have been very, very different, you know?

Kara:           Yes.

Kathryn:       You know, and that’s actually really incredible to think of well actually, you know, this is somebody taking this out but it’s another, what 30 years I think you said?

Kara:           Yes.

Kathryn:       Almost down the line since he actually had the heart attack.  I mean, that’s incredible.

Kara:           Yeah, and I mean it was very much a case of where we were always kind of on eggshells, you know?  I – because I eavesdropped a lot, you know, very much – so when you have teenagers keep that in mind, they’ll be ear – eavesdropping and everything.  And so I probably knew more than my parents thought but yeah, it was very – you know, it was very touch and go for a long time and if he had have had to go back or was forced to go back to work because he was worried about providing for our family, you know, who knows what could have happened?  And, you know, and I say to people like, you know, when I’m explaining why I spend so much on this because naturally, I kind of look like I have terrible genetics now on an income protection questionnaire but I – I’m like ‘Hey, it can – it happened to my family not once but twice and, you know, thank God they had the protection in place.’

Because my life was largely – other than the uncertainty of their health, I was able to still have all of those things that were so important and consistent which I didn’t appreciate – now but as an adult I can look back and think ‘thank God for that.’

Kathryn:       Yeah.

Andrew:       It’s a theory without stealing your lines Kathryn I guess, it’s the theory that protection insurance gives you choices rather than cash.  It obviously does give you cash and sometimes it gives you – increasingly it gives you some benefits to help out as well but whether it’s a, you know, whether it’s money in life insurance or critical illness or income protection, it gives you that time and those options right?  So for the families to not be forced into –

Kara:           Yeah.

Andrew:       Rushing back to work or forced into something that –

Kara:           Well particularly with my Mum because she has MS and it’s remitting and relapsing so sometimes it’s better, sometimes it’s worse.  She’s very fortunate, she’s not in a wheelchair or anything but my parents have always – they’ve built several houses over the years and they always made them wheelchair accessible – wider hallways, lower windows.

Kathryn:       Yeah.

Kara:           Just in case.  But she’s been really fortunate to not be in that position but what – the saying in my family is ‘If you’re tired – well your body – if you need a nap, your body must have needed it.’  That’s what my Mum always says so you never feel bad about having a nap.

Kathryn:       Yeah.

Kara:           And so – and she was – she always says that being able to retire and being in a financial position meant she was able to listen to her body.  So if she felt that her symptoms were surfacing and she was on the edge of maybe having a relapse, she was able to like down tools and rest herself and at least soften the blow of that reoccurrence and I think that is worth its weight in gold because, you know, it’s not even just the money but it’s also her quality of life.

Kathryn:       Absolutely.

Kara:           You know, she’s – you know, I don’t know if you’ve ever been – you know, even when you’re sick and your kids are out and you can hear everybody else in the other part of the house but you’re unwell and you’re stuck upstairs, that can feel very isolating I think.

Kathryn:       Yeah.

Kara:           So being able to prevent that from being longer periods of being unwell is really good for your mental health as well.  And that’s priceless.

Kathryn:       Absolutely.  I always think, you know, easy to say with these insurances, yes the money is obviously very, very helpful and it allows you then to – well to then have a quality of life.  And like you said, it’s not just your own quality of life, it’s your children’s quality of life.

Kara:           Yeah.

Kathryn:       It’s the rest of the family so that you can all adapt and – and I think it’s sometimes that – it’s that kind of side of it that – that sort of like edge of the story that people don’t necessarily connect with at times.  They just think ‘Oh well, I’m just – we’re paying this much and yeah it’s going to give me back my money, but the State will look after me.’  And it’s sort – and you sort of like – you – you lose sight sometimes of all the repercussions of what –

Kara:           Yeah.

Kathryn:       Serious illness can have.

Kara:           Yeah.

Kathryn:       But I don’t know if it’s if you – if you’ve maybe been brought up with a family that have had, you know, significant illnesses like yourself where that really stands out so I’ve got quite a few things in my medical history as well from my family and so it’s always been very, very clear in our minds, you know, that thing of, you know, getting that chance to – if somebody needs to have a rest that do that because if you rest now then it means that you can carry on for another couple of days, you know, at 80 percent level rather than just maxing yourself out and being out for two weeks, you know?  It’s –

Kara:           Well this is – I always explain it to my daughter who’s just turned seven last week and I talk about sleep and rest, it’s like the battery on the IPad.

Kathryn:       Yeah.

Kara:           And I’m like ‘Well we need to recharge that battery, it’s getting low so you need to go to bed and we need to charge that battery back up to 100 percent and if you sleep and you go to bed at eight o’clock you’ll get to 100 percent by the morning but if you are still up running around at 10 o’clock then you’ll only get to 70 percent and you’ll run out of puff earlier and for some reason that kind of works when you put it into like that kind of context.  But for the – it’s the same as for anything and I think if you’re not worried about having to keep the roof over your head and keep food on the table you can actually allow yourself – and I think, if you see my Dad and my Mum, they look great.  Like they have – they have been able to do what the doctor said.  Like they’re excellent examples of – my sister’s a GP and she says that Mum and Dad are perfect patients and I think that’s largely down to my mother’s iron fist.

Kathryn:       Yeah.

Kara:           But you know, they do what they’re told.  She said they’re a doctor’s dream because they actually follow their advice and – but you know what?  My Dad is 71 years old now and he is there, he has three grandchildren and yeah, he looks great.  I just posted a picture of him on Instagram last night and I was looking at my Dad and I’m like ‘My God, I hope I look that healthy and happy if I’ve – you know, found myself living with a long-term health condition for 30 years.’  And that’s because he’s been able to rest.

Andrew:       Yeah and there’s a – emphasises doesn’t it?  There’s a big gap between not being able to work and not being able to have a fruitful and enjoyable and effective life.

Kara:           Yes.

Andrew:       And I think that often gets lost in – understandably in the need for simple messaging and simple case studies and things like that.

Kara:           Yeah.

Andrew:       You kind of have that.

Kara:           I do think at the moment – I notice that the conversations are popping up more than since lockdown has happened and with corona virus, you know, people are suddenly worried about their income.  You know, people are being furloughed, people are losing their jobs.  I live very near to an airport and the air industry is just, you know, it’s crumbling and that’s going to have a knock-on effect in my local area and so suddenly I’m like ‘Okay, well we can – if we can get through this, let this be a lesson that if suddenly the bottom falls out of how you bring home your money, you could have a back-up plan.’  You know, let that – because it’s very – there – statistically you’re more likely to need – to become critically ill or have a long-term health condition than you are to necessarily claim on your life insurance.  And also, your life insurance, you’re not going to reap the benefits of that.

Kathryn:       Yeah.

Andrew:       Yeah.

Kara:           You know, like it’s all well and good to not leave your, you know, it’s important to not leave people, you know, in a rough financial situation when you die but, you know, life is for living and you want to make sure that you are able to do that as long as you can as easily as you can.

Kathryn:       It’s interesting saying that as well because I did an online test and I can’t remember the exact figures but it was on an insurer’s website where you can test sort of how likely it is you are going to claim on these insurances and I think, obviously I mean I’ve got everything, but I think my life insurance it was something like three percent chance I was going to claim on it but I think it was the income protection, it was something like 70 percent, 60/70 percent of me being, you know, potential for me to claim on it and it was just a case of ‘Okay, looking at statistics and medically, that information is sort of like into that.’  But talking about like the case studies and stuff like that, so very closely linked to the Income Protection Task Force, is the 7 Families’ work.

Kara:           Yeah.

Kathryn:       And just – there’s a couple of them and it actually fits in really nicely with what you were saying about that kind of – obviously for your – for your Dad it was stopping work and listening to medical professionals but for someone else where they were able to maybe gradually reintegrate back into work but again purely at the medical professionals’ sort of guidance.  So for anybody who isn’t familiar – so 7 Families was sort of an initiative that came about where a group of insurers decided to provide about 12 months’ income and all the support services you would get with an income protection policy if they had had it when they were diagnosed with certain things.  So feeding on as well last time when we were talking about strokes with Steve Casey, I was looking at one of them and it was saying that – it was a gentleman called Graeme Snell, and he was a double stroke survivor and it happened in July 2014.

And it always surprises me that someone has a stroke in the UK every five minutes and I think that’s really a huge, huge statistic but for him – he obviously got access to all these different things and to the funds and his income protection but what he said was that the main thing was that it allowed him to focus on his health and the rehabilitation, the getting better.  He didn’t have to try to rush back to work too soon.  He was able to just not struggle financially and just really take that time to focus upon him.  It gave him access to things like the RedArc nurses and support groups that are to provide obviously the medical support but the emotional support because he said that for him as well, he felt really guilty that he wasn’t more ill because even though he’d had a double stroke, he was actually coming out of it quite favourably really physically, compared to a lot of people in that situation.

That was something that Steve said as well last time that he felt quite guilty in a sense that – and it really shocked him when he could see all the people in the stroke ward compared to him and he was there like ‘Wow, I’ve really dodged the bullet here,’ kind of thing.  But for Graeme, he was able to begin some voluntary work alongside obviously being able to have this kind of financial support and it allowed him to go back into the work environment again, to test it to see how his stress levels were and to not worry still about that financial side, losing that financial support and just to test it to see if it was the right time and then maybe step back if he needed to or test it and just say ‘You know what?  I just can’t.  I just can’t simply go back.’

And for him, he was able to do something where he trained – he was able to take the time to train as a trainer for his profession so no longer being the professional in the occupation that he was but to be the trainer of that – of people who were going to eventually become him in a sense.  So he was able to adapt and carry on and I think that fits in really quite nicely with what you were saying Kara, about that whole thing of just people being able – it’s not just the financial thing.  Even more so probably than the financial thing, it’s that support to actually do what your body needs it to do to recover.

Kara:           Yes and I think – I mean with my – because my parents became unwell in the 90s, there were kind of – I don’t know, I think it’s become more advanced, the extra – the value-added benefits that are available today.  But when you say about, you know, volunteering for instance, so my Dad, you know, he was 42 – mentally he was, you know, fine.  It’s his – it was his body that let him down.  He is a very intelligent man, has several masters’ degrees, you know, he has a lot to offer and over time he was able to – because he could pace himself, he volunteers, he’s on all these committees, he raises money for the children’s burn unit at the hospital and he – he’s just doing something all the time.  My Mum thinks it’s great because it gets him out of the house a bit although not during lockdown, that’s a different story.

But he’s able to feel like he’s giving back in a way even though again it was – that’s unpaid but it gives him a bit of a – little bit of a structure to his week.  He feels like he’s using his mental capacity and I think that’s been really good for him, you know, his – his mental health but he’s been able to do that slowly over time and kind of take baby steps and see what he can do and what his limits are I guess.  And I think that that must be a really – I’ve never really thought about it until you just kind of mentioned it – we just joke that it keeps him out of Mum’s hair for a bit but, you know, that must have – that must have been – for a man at that age, you know, he was – it must have been really, really difficult to not kind of use his skills like, you know, I’m sure that must lead to all sorts of problems for people with depression and that kind of thing.

Andrew:       Yeah absolutely.  And it’s – I think intuitively it’s where we can have an honest conversation with customers that there is a shared aim in the first instance to get the person back to work and that’s in – you know, that’s in the insurer’s financial interests initially and it’s in – and it’s in the person’s interests because generally, in most situations it’s good for the individual socially etcetera to get back to work.  But – then with all of those benefits and services and the financial side of things that are there, then it does come back to this – it enables choice and it enables those options even where at some point you say ‘Well this work isn’t going to be right or appropriate for that person.’  And I think, you know –

Kara:           Yeah.

Andrew:       My Mum’s a teacher as well and absolutely there’s clearly a different level there than there may be for other occupations.

Kara:           Well I think – I – because I wrote an article for the Income Protection Task Force this month about value added benefits.  I spoke to you Kathryn about it.

Kathryn:       Yeah.

Kara:           Because I think at the moment, you know, I got an email from my broker with like ‘Did you know that you have access to 24 hours a day, seven days a week GP services?’  I didn’t know that.  I write about income protection all the time.  I’m a columnist for the Task Force but I’d never really kind of thought about that and because right now at the moment, we’re reluctant to kind of go to our GP because, you know, it’s – well we also think it’s not that bad, you know, I can wait, but you know, you might need advice or whatever and so there’s all of these resources available that I didn’t realise so I wrote about that.  But then it got me thinking at the time is – back in the day when I worked at The Telegraph, I have – I have like hyperflexible joints.

Kathryn:       Oh, hi I’m hypermobile!

Kara:           Yeah, so am I.

Kathryn:       Hey, don’t start, Andrew.

Kara:           Yeah.  Yeah, I have hyper – I am hypermobile as well.  It was a nightmare.

Kathryn:       Yay!  Yes it is.

Kara:           And so – but because I was writing like, you know, 5,000 words a week –

Kathryn:       Of course.

Kara:           But my big thing is my hand – it’s my thumb because I have a really flexible thumb.

Kathryn:       Yeah.

Kara:           And then I ended up having really bad repetitive strain and my hands would swell up and I would like have to hold them and that’s a problem.  These are – I used to joke – I’m like ‘These are my tools, my hands,’ but that is how I did my job.  If I can’t type – but it turns out, you know, I use a pen instead of a mouse and I have an arm rest and I have all of these things to enable myself to continue to work.  But I’m freelance so I don’t do as much now as I did but while I was there, I had access to onsite physiotherapy in the office so I was able to have someone help me with my hands, help set up the desk and enable me to continue to do my job.  Which was what I wanted to do – I didn’t not want to work and I think that, you know, how many years on has that been?  It’s, you know, 10 and 12 years since that all became a problem and I’m still working.  I’m still contributing.  I’m earning and that’s something just as simple as my hands were so pain- – I couldn’t sleep at night they would be so painful and I think –

Andrew:       I think –

Kara:           I think that’s such – that is worth it in itself and with the value added benefits, you have access to physiotherapy and – which you don’t when you’re a freelancer.  Like I don’t have a physiotherapist in my home office.

Andrew:       Yeah, I think that’s really important isn’t it?  That – so I’ve moved from corporate to self-employed four years ago?  Five years ago now and absolutely as with you guys, even – even though we should know better etcetera, let’s start with any statement we make in this whole area, it’s still kind of you don’t quite realise what you’ve lost in terms of, I don’t know, EAP things and some of those physio things and whatever, until you – until you –

Kara:           Until you don’t have it anymore.

Andrew:       Something goes slightly wrong and you don’t have it anymore, absolutely.  And you go ‘Well, gosh how on earth can I get that?’  And it is – it’s surprising how underplayed some of those things are.

Kara:           Well certainly I’ve had in the past when I was undergoing tests and diagnoses last year and it was taking so long and it was going on and going on.  Turned out it was all fine but I could have had access to second opinions through my – my income protection.  Like – I looked back and I thought ‘My goodness, that could have made a very stressful situation far less stressful.’  And I often say, as a person who’s self-employed, I was seeing several different departments in the hospital and in one week I was at four different hospital appointments on four different days and I only work around my daughter’s school hours so that was four of my five days shot.  And how much money did I lose doing that?  You know, you start to – when you’re self-employed, you start thinking of the time you’re out of the office in very real terms because you can see what your invoicing is not –

Andrew:       Yeah and I’ve seen it.

Kara:           Very high so that’s – that would have really – you know, if I’d have been able to speak to someone and get a second opinion, that might have hurried up that whole procedure.

Andrew:       Yeah, and we don’t – it’s difficult to make predictions at the moment about anything but I think one certain thing is there will be more people going into self-employment in the next 12 to 18 months whether through choice and dreams and vision of this wonderful life that they’re currently living or probably more realistically –

Kathryn:       They have no choice.

Andrew:       Necessity having been made redundant and – and trying something new.  And I think most people –

Kara:           I do think that particularly women are very affected by this because the extortionate cost of childcare means a lot of women have been put in a position that they say ‘Well should I stay in the work – in my office job or, you know, should I try and go and do it on my own and work flexibly?’  And – and I think that that’s when you lose, you know, your death in service benefits, you lose your – all these other things that you probably kind of take for granted and suddenly you think ‘Well I don’t really make that much money, do I really need to cover my income?’  But I found this really handy – I mean it certainly wasn’t when I was trying to make a point to my daughter’s father about how much unpaid childcare I provide and whatnot.  You know how every now and then you’re like, ‘I do the laundry and do this, I do this.’

Kathryn:       Yes.

Kara:           And the Office for National Statistics has a thing where you can calculate – an online tool where you can calculate how many hours you provide childcare and how many, you know, the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning, whatnot and then you can calculate what that would be worth in money.

Kathryn:       Oh right.

Kara:           So if you had to replace that – so if I became incapacitated and was unable to provide that childcare, you know, before my husband and I separated – he would have been at home and trying to work full-time but then he would be trying to fill the childcare provision that I was, you know, had been doing and at a cost and so, you know, it’s kind of – you can’t just look at what you’re earning on – in monetary values I think.  It’s what you’re providing for free.

Kathryn:       Absolutely.

Kara:           That somebody would have to be paid to do if you couldn’t do it.

Kathryn:       Absolutely.

Andrew:       I think it’s – it’s important to mention that the value added benefits or support services, whatever it is that we should be calling them, kick in once you get any policy so it’s not a case of – so even if you can only afford a relatively small amount of income protection, you then get the raft of these other things as I well.  I think often still for all of the good chat, it’s a whole other podcast on how long – why people don’t buy income protection or disability income products more, and obviously I guess this is one of the efforts to change that – but I think often it does come down to cost if you’re trying to protect the perfect thing.  That to start with a relatively small amount that would protect something does get you all of this stuff.  But I think what 7 Families really pulled out was at least as important as the money.

Kara:           Well yeah but I mean I’ve met – I’ve met several of the families in the 7 Families campaign and Tracey Clark for instance – she lost her vision over a very short period of time and was unable to do her job and she says over and over that it was the additional support that was almost of better value to her because she still wanted to be able to live a life and she had to suddenly learn how to do that without her vision and so she, you know, and she had the right experts that were to-hand that were able to help her learn how to use technology in a different way.  And, you know, those – if you don’t have access to that, that’s – the day can be very long.  You know, if you don’t have the things that make you happy and I think a lot of people tend to think ‘Well you just think about cancer or heart attacks or strokes,’ but there are so many ways that you can be unwell but you still want to be able to try and live your life as, you know, as happily as you can and if support is going to help do that then – then that’s priceless really.

Kathryn:       Absolutely.  I think what’s good as well with 7 Families and linking back to something we said as well, is that they offer this ‘How Finvincible Are You?’ quiz and it’s sort of quite a light version – not too intense if anybody wants to be involved and everything.  So you can do it, there’s a few questions just see sort of how financially invincible you are.  So Andrew, I think you’ve possibly got a few things that you wanted to talk about in regards to income protection and the dreaded C-word at the moment.

Andrew:       Yeah we can’t avoid it so – and I think certainly initially income protection was probably the focus around insurance and corona virus for pretty obvious reasons I think and there were movements made by insurers in that initial phase for – especially for very short-term income protection.  So most people who have income protection would have income protection that starts paying when you’ve been off work for maybe three months.  So D-13 policies, 13-week deferment periods, lots of jargon there I’m sorry but basically you have to be off work for three months before things pay but there are also income protection policies that start paying when you’ve been off literally for one day or one week or four weeks.

And so quite a few of those shorter-term income protection policies you now can’t buy at the moment or have a specific corona virus exclusion on.  If you had an income protection policy bought certainly before this year, then there’s no change to the terms and conditions of those policies and you can still claim if you’re off work for any reason, corona virus or anything else, and those pay.  So I think as with any of these things it’s about – if you’ve got insurance already and you think you might have a claim, you’re always best to call your adviser or the insurer and – and discuss those things but there’s certainly no change to existing policies that’s – that’s – that’s gone into place.

Kara:           I think the big thing, sorry, a big thing that I tend to mention to readers often is that if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Andrew:       Yeah.

Kara:           So you might have these policies in place but they’re there for you to use, that’s why you buy them.  So pick up the phone or, you know, do an online chat and just see what is available to help you.  The worst-case scenario, nothing at that point maybe.  But you might be able to get some kind of support you may not realise and it’s always worth a try.  So if you don’t contact them, you’re not going to know.

Andrew:       Absolutely, and I think certainly again with even the longer term periods to payment, the insurer – back to the practical – the insurer will want to know as soon as possible so that they can help you and they’d rather pay for three physio sessions for your back or for your thumb than wait six months by which point you haven’t been working for six months and there’s much harder hurdles.  So – so absolutely I think, get in touch with messages.  Always write and get in touch as early as you can is – is absolutely key.  And yeah then – I think then we’re looking – almost as insurers are now probably we’re what two months in?  And I think there is now beginning to be more looking – more time to look ahead more positively and think about this changing world and looking to what products might come next and might better fit the needs of peoples’ changed expectations and some of that speaks to self-employment.

Some speak to this kind of blurring of lines, I think, between medical and economic reality.  So it will be a while ‘til we see those new products but I think every insurer is now looking around this area so if you have good ideas, whether or not you work in an insurer, an adviser or just chance upon this podcast and it’s really good time I think to speak up with those, because it – it’s a – you know – it’s all up – it’s all up in the air and will continue to be for a few months.

Kathryn:       So, we’re at that stage of the podcast where we come to our famous truth or lie feature and we’re going to do a mix.  Obviously we had Steve on last time, we’ve got Kara on this time which is fantastic.  So, I’m going to start it off by saying that my favourite family game is Taboo.

Andrew:       Okay, so I’ll go – my, our favourite family game is Mario Kart.

Kara:           And my favourite game to play with my family is Twister.

Kathryn:       So there you go. We have to try and figure out which one of us is telling a lie.  Well I want to say thank you obviously to everybody for listening and thank you Kara for joining us.  It’s been a pleasure having you on.

Kara:           Thanks for having me.

Kathryn:       It’s been lovely.  It’s been lovely to speak with you and hear about obviously all your real experiences where income protection has obviously been extremely, very, very powerfully important to you and your family.  If anybody does have any questions at all or wants to discuss anything, please do send us a message.

Andrew:       Yeah, thank you so much Kara.  We – Kathryn and I will be back in two weeks so if you want a reminder of the next episode then please do drop us a message on social media or visit our website, www.practical-protection.co.uk.  And we are always keen to hear what you like, what you don’t like etcetera.

Kathryn:       Andrew likes to hear what you don’t like.

Andrew:       Yeah, I like the challenge.  We are really – it genuinely does keep us going.  I think each time we kind of hear different things from – from very different people which – which is really good to know that it’s – it’s reaching deep into the bowels of insurers and advisers and all that stuff.  So thank you for getting in touch and, yeah, have a good couple of weeks and we’ll speak to you all soon.  Thank you.

Kathryn:       Thank you Kara, bye.

Kara:           Thank you.  Bye.

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Episode 8 | Protecting Your Income

Hi Everyone!

Today we are thrilled to have Kara Gammell joining us on the podcast.

Kara is an award winning financial journalist with a passion for talking about money, shown in her money saving blog 'Your Best Friends Guide to Cash' and book that you can buy here.

Kara is a big advocate of income protection. In this episode she talks about her childhood living in a household where both parents were medically retired and claiming on income protection.

Hearing Kara talk about how income protection supported her parents, really brings home what we are trying to achieve within the insurance world.

Our 3 key takeaways:

  1. The non-monetary benefits of income protection.
  2. The value of income protection to the policyholder's family.
  3. Two case studies from the Seven Families campaign.

As with all of our episodes, we love your feedback! Please let us know what you think and if you have any suggestions for future episodes pop up a message.

Come back to listen to us in a couple of weeks time when we are going to be talking about diabetes.

Kathryn:       Hi everyone, this is episode eight and today we have our third guest on the podcast, Kara Gammell, a freelance financial journalist.  Hi Kara!

Kara:           Hello.

Andrew:       Hi Kara.  So how are we all today?  How – how are you doing Kara – in these – are we still on strange and unprecedented times or – we – we’re new normal times now aren’t we?  So how –

Kara:           Yeah, I feel like it’s becoming normal now, you know?  It’s – it’s just – the problem is it’s uncertain because you don’t know how long it’s going to go on for.  But we – we’re hanging in there.  And the sunshine helps I think.

Andrew:       Yes.

Kathryn:       Definitely does.  Sunshine definitely helps.  We had a lovely – as I say like on Friday being a Bank Holiday we promised the kids that Mummy Headmistress would go away and Daddy wouldn’t be sort of locked up in a room and we just spent time outside in the sun.  We’re lucky to have a garden and it was just really – it was just nice just to do that because, you know, it’s – I think with a lot of people – all parents at the moment, it’s incredibly intense having children and trying to work and not – no one being able to escape at any point as well and just sort of like have maybe even a few minutes with your own head.  It’s all a little bit intense but –

Kara:           I often feel like I’m trying to do two things all day but I’m also – I feel like I’m only doing a – like a half – you know, I’m not doing very good at either one of my jobs.

Kathryn:       Yeah, absolutely.

Kara:           I’m not smashing it in the home school and I’m not doing a lot – doing great at work and so now I try and do everything I can in the morning home school-wise and that takes the pressure off.  But it’s just – it’s quite stressful but luckily everybody – I think everyone is kind of, you know, this is the new normal.  We can’t compare ourselves to what our productivity was like, you know, a few months ago.

Kathryn:       Absolutely.

Andrew:       Yeah it’s definitely – I’m a great believer that I worry generally when I think something’s going well, then that probably means something else isn’t and more so now than ever.  If I think I’ve cracked home schooling or work it definitely means the other one is about to come crashing down.

Kara:           Yeah.

Andrew:       But that kind of general level of slightly failing at both is about my –

Kara:           Yeah I think everybody is like that.  I like to set my expectations low.

Andrew:       Yeah.

Kara:           And then I’m pleasantly surprised and I feel I’m high-fiving myself at home here.

Andrew:       Yeah so that’s set for the rest of the podcast – let’s try –

Kara:           It’s a great motto isn’t it?

Andrew:       Yeah, brilliant.

Kara:           Inspirational.  Put that on a t-shirt.

Kathryn:       Brilliant.

Andrew:       So – so last week on the podcast we had another guest, Steve Casey, on.  He took part in our truth or lie feature.  So I said that since lockdown had begun, I had taken up unicycling.  Kathryn said she’d started playing the flute and Steve said pre-lockdown he had nutmegged Kevin Keegan.  Now we realised in all of our technical talk that we do on this podcast around medical conditions and insurance, we had forgotten to explain what nutmegged meaned – meant, sorry.  So for Kathryn and others’ benefits, nutmegging in football is where you kind of kick the ball through someone’s legs and run round the other side.  Kevin Keegan was a very good footballer.

Kathryn:       Ah.

Andrew:       A very long time ago.  He says bravely with Steve not on the podcast.  So – so suffice to say, I was very impressed by Steve’s claim whereas Kathryn –

Kathryn:       So who do you think’s telling a lie Kara?

Kara:           Well, okay, you said that you’d been learning the flute and I have seen you on Twitter playing away so I know that is correct and I – considering I didn’t know who Kevin Keegan was, I assumed that wasn’t a member of Steve Casey’s household.  So I think Andrew you’ve taken up unicycling and Steve Casey was telling a fib.

Kathryn:       Well it was actually Andrew that was lying.  Now I have to say, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Andrew but he’s about eight foot tall so I think if there was a – there was a unicycle in the land that would be suitable – I think, you know when you see those people, like the street entertainers and they suddenly come out with a unicycle and you’re like ‘Look, look how tall it is, it’s like 15 foot in the air,’ he would need that one.

Kara:           Okay.  Hard to – hard to tell on a – on a Zoom call.

Andrew:       I need – I do need ways to subtly – I’m actually sat by the wine rack here.  I feel like I should know that I can reach the top, the top bottle.  It’s quite strange meeting new people virtually and actually not being able to be tall.

Kara:           Yeah.

Kathryn:       That’s –

Kara:           That’s quite a leveller I guess.

Andrew:       Yeah, absolutely, yeah.  Yeah.

Kara:           Really, yeah.

Andrew:       I kind of – sit up straight.  But yes, I haven’t taken up unicycling.  Steve has, at some point in the past pre-lockdown, nutmegged Kevin Keegan.

Kara:           Oh pre-lockdown.  I see.

Andrew:       Yeah.  Which he can impress you about in a bar at some point post-lockdown.

Kara:           Yeah, I’ll have to ask all about it then.

Andrew:       Yes.

Kara:           I’ll have to do my research and find out who Kevin Keegan is.  In my defence, I’m Canadian so nothing I – I only know anything post-2003.

Andrew:       Yeah, okay.

Kara:           When I came over.

Kathryn:       That’s fine.  Also in my defence, I hate football.  So –

Kara:           You’ve got three boys.

Kathryn:       I know, rugby – rugby all the way.

Kara:           Oh okay.

Kathryn:       They’re also into cricket.  There seems to be a weird cricket thing around here and I’ve never really – yeah, so apparently they’re really into cricket.  So Kara, can you please tell our listeners a bit about yourself?

Kara:           Sure.  I am a freelance financial journalist.  I’ve been working in newspapers and magazines for, I don’t know 12, 14 years something like that.  But I write a lot about protection and the importance of income protection because I personally am a massive believer in it which is kind of unusual for a – a younger woman who’s not necessarily in the industry.  But I grew up in a household with two sick parents and both of them fortunately had policies in place which meant that we were able to still, you know, live in our home while they were unwell.  And both of them retired in their 40s so it was, you know, quite a long period.

Kathryn:       Yeah and I know you do quite a lot of it with the Income Protection Task Force.

Kara:           Yes.  So I write – I write a column for the Income Protection Task Force every month and work with them just trying to get the message out because I feel – I write a blog as well.  It’s called Your Best Friend’s Guide to Cash and I think, as a journalist – I – I used to write for The Telegraph and that was, you know, the money sections of the newspaper are read by a very specific type of reader, not necessarily my girlfriends I have found.

Kathryn:       Yeah.

Kara:           We don’t really have time to read the weekend papers unfortunately but they still need access to financial information and tips.  So that’s why I started up my blog called Your Best Friend’s Guide to Cash ‘cos it’s like I’m explaining it to my friends when we’re on a playdate type thing.  And so with income protection I would talk about how I was, you know, I had the insurance but none of my girlfriends – like literally none of them had it because they would see themselves as not the breadwinner and they don’t make enough money to cover it and it’s, you know – but they all had life insurance because they were prompted to take that out when they got their mortgage.

Kathryn:       Yeah.

Kara:           So with the Income Protection Task Force I’ve been trying to kind of talk about it but in, you know, a real person’s view if you see what I mean rather than an industry or an adviser sort of thing.

Kathryn:       Absolutely.

Andrew:       No that makes sense.  So – so in terms of what happened to you and your story then Kara growing up and I guess most of us – most people don’t go through what you went through so are you able to talk a bit more about what happened then and kind of share that experience?

Kara:           Yeah sure.  I think – so – the funny thing is that when it’s your own life, you don’t really know any different.  So I grew up with sick parents but I’ll tell you right now, they’re both still alive and they were on a Zoom family phone call last night.  My Dad’s 71, my Mum is 67 although she would be vague about that.  And so basically when I was 12 in 1992, my Dad was a headmaster in a secondary school and he was giving a presentation at the school board in front of the chief executive and everything and had a heart attack and he was rushed to the hospital and he was given a very bleak outcome because he was inoperable due to a number of complications so they pretty much gave him three months to live.  And, you know, I found – when I was 12 I found the funeral plans, you know, like it was – as you do, you know when you’re 12 – I don’t know about you, but I used to root through things all the time.

Kathryn:       Absolutely.

Kara:           Yeah, I was very nosy.  So they didn’t leave them out but I found them.  And so my Dad – he ended up being able to have a balloon procedure, like an angioplasty but that was only kind of like a 50/50 chance but it was better than nothing.  Fortunately he came through that but the – and I actually brought the balloon to a show and tell once to school because it saved my Dad’s life.

Andrew:       Wow.

Kathryn:       Wow.

Kara:           And – yeah, it’s kind of random now that I think about it but he – as a result he had to have as little stress as possible so he wasn’t able to go back to work ‘cos his job was a very stressful job and that was quite a blow to him.  He was 42, he was in his prime, he loved his job, he was passionate about it.  He had a real soft spot for at-risk youth and – but yeah, so he had to stop working and so at that time my Mum worked.  She was – she owned a nursery, they’re called a pre-school in Canada – and she was able to still work at that time but my Dad – I guess it must be quite a blow from when you’re kind of the breadwinner to then, you know, start worrying about money and luckily he had insurance in place that he had taken out when he started teaching for this very kind of thing happening.

And at the time his friends told him, you know, ‘Frank, you’re wasting your money.  You know, you’re not – why are you throwing your money at that?’  And thank God he did because he – his policy paid out until his retirement at 65 and, you know, I’m – I like to say that I kind of – I’m an example of how bad luck can happen but not just once but twice in a household.  So when my Mum was 48 she retired because she has MS and so suddenly I was in I think Grade 12 and – so like just about to leave school and both of my parents were at home working.  I mean, it did have a benefit.  I get to have breakfast, lunch and supper with my parents every day because they make you walk home from school in Canada at lunchtime.

Kathryn:       Oh right.

Kara:           You don’t – it doesn’t matter the weather, you’ve got to walk on home and walk back in an hour.  Like a kilometre each way.

Kathryn:       Wow.

Kara:           And – I know.  I know, that’s – I’m going to use that when Audrey complains when she’s older [all laugh] but also, you know, it certainly had its benefits but from my parents’ point of view it meant that they could actually follow the doctors’ orders and do the type of lifestyle that would help their health rather than make it worse but from my point of view as a teenager, and as you know when you’re a teenager it’s kind of all about you – you’re very kind of self – well you don’t, you’re 12, you know, you don’t really know any different and from my point of view it meant that I was able to stay in the family home that I grew up in.  We stayed in the same street so I still had my neighbours.  Because my Dad was in and out of hospital a lot for the first couple of years and very unexpectedly, you know, he would have angina or something and they’d have to go.

So our neighbours were there to look in on us.  My girlfriends, my friends were all around and so that really provided a constant support that I needed and probably didn’t realise.  And also it gave my parents, you know, the peace of mind they didn’t have to worry about paying the bills.

Kathryn:       Well that sounds sort of like incredible.  I don’t think I’ve necessarily thought of it so much but it what really sort of sounds from what you’ve said is that, you know, by having income protection your Dad didn’t have to go back to work so he could follow doctors’ orders because if he had gone back then the Zoom call yesterday could have been very, very different, you know?

Kara:           Yes.

Kathryn:       You know, and that’s actually really incredible to think of well actually, you know, this is somebody taking this out but it’s another, what 30 years I think you said?

Kara:           Yes.

Kathryn:       Almost down the line since he actually had the heart attack.  I mean, that’s incredible.

Kara:           Yeah, and I mean it was very much a case of where we were always kind of on eggshells, you know?  I – because I eavesdropped a lot, you know, very much – so when you have teenagers keep that in mind, they’ll be ear – eavesdropping and everything.  And so I probably knew more than my parents thought but yeah, it was very – you know, it was very touch and go for a long time and if he had have had to go back or was forced to go back to work because he was worried about providing for our family, you know, who knows what could have happened?  And, you know, and I say to people like, you know, when I’m explaining why I spend so much on this because naturally, I kind of look like I have terrible genetics now on an income protection questionnaire but I – I’m like ‘Hey, it can – it happened to my family not once but twice and, you know, thank God they had the protection in place.’

Because my life was largely – other than the uncertainty of their health, I was able to still have all of those things that were so important and consistent which I didn’t appreciate – now but as an adult I can look back and think ‘thank God for that.’

Kathryn:       Yeah.

Andrew:       It’s a theory without stealing your lines Kathryn I guess, it’s the theory that protection insurance gives you choices rather than cash.  It obviously does give you cash and sometimes it gives you – increasingly it gives you some benefits to help out as well but whether it’s a, you know, whether it’s money in life insurance or critical illness or income protection, it gives you that time and those options right?  So for the families to not be forced into –

Kara:           Yeah.

Andrew:       Rushing back to work or forced into something that –

Kara:           Well particularly with my Mum because she has MS and it’s remitting and relapsing so sometimes it’s better, sometimes it’s worse.  She’s very fortunate, she’s not in a wheelchair or anything but my parents have always – they’ve built several houses over the years and they always made them wheelchair accessible – wider hallways, lower windows.

Kathryn:       Yeah.

Kara:           Just in case.  But she’s been really fortunate to not be in that position but what – the saying in my family is ‘If you’re tired – well your body – if you need a nap, your body must have needed it.’  That’s what my Mum always says so you never feel bad about having a nap.

Kathryn:       Yeah.

Kara:           And so – and she was – she always says that being able to retire and being in a financial position meant she was able to listen to her body.  So if she felt that her symptoms were surfacing and she was on the edge of maybe having a relapse, she was able to like down tools and rest herself and at least soften the blow of that reoccurrence and I think that is worth its weight in gold because, you know, it’s not even just the money but it’s also her quality of life.

Kathryn:       Absolutely.

Kara:           You know, she’s – you know, I don’t know if you’ve ever been – you know, even when you’re sick and your kids are out and you can hear everybody else in the other part of the house but you’re unwell and you’re stuck upstairs, that can feel very isolating I think.

Kathryn:       Yeah.

Kara:           So being able to prevent that from being longer periods of being unwell is really good for your mental health as well.  And that’s priceless.

Kathryn:       Absolutely.  I always think, you know, easy to say with these insurances, yes the money is obviously very, very helpful and it allows you then to – well to then have a quality of life.  And like you said, it’s not just your own quality of life, it’s your children’s quality of life.

Kara:           Yeah.

Kathryn:       It’s the rest of the family so that you can all adapt and – and I think it’s sometimes that – it’s that kind of side of it that – that sort of like edge of the story that people don’t necessarily connect with at times.  They just think ‘Oh well, I’m just – we’re paying this much and yeah it’s going to give me back my money, but the State will look after me.’  And it’s sort – and you sort of like – you – you lose sight sometimes of all the repercussions of what –

Kara:           Yeah.

Kathryn:       Serious illness can have.

Kara:           Yeah.

Kathryn:       But I don’t know if it’s if you – if you’ve maybe been brought up with a family that have had, you know, significant illnesses like yourself where that really stands out so I’ve got quite a few things in my medical history as well from my family and so it’s always been very, very clear in our minds, you know, that thing of, you know, getting that chance to – if somebody needs to have a rest that do that because if you rest now then it means that you can carry on for another couple of days, you know, at 80 percent level rather than just maxing yourself out and being out for two weeks, you know?  It’s –

Kara:           Well this is – I always explain it to my daughter who’s just turned seven last week and I talk about sleep and rest, it’s like the battery on the IPad.

Kathryn:       Yeah.

Kara:           And I’m like ‘Well we need to recharge that battery, it’s getting low so you need to go to bed and we need to charge that battery back up to 100 percent and if you sleep and you go to bed at eight o’clock you’ll get to 100 percent by the morning but if you are still up running around at 10 o’clock then you’ll only get to 70 percent and you’ll run out of puff earlier and for some reason that kind of works when you put it into like that kind of context.  But for the – it’s the same as for anything and I think if you’re not worried about having to keep the roof over your head and keep food on the table you can actually allow yourself – and I think, if you see my Dad and my Mum, they look great.  Like they have – they have been able to do what the doctor said.  Like they’re excellent examples of – my sister’s a GP and she says that Mum and Dad are perfect patients and I think that’s largely down to my mother’s iron fist.

Kathryn:       Yeah.

Kara:           But you know, they do what they’re told.  She said they’re a doctor’s dream because they actually follow their advice and – but you know what?  My Dad is 71 years old now and he is there, he has three grandchildren and yeah, he looks great.  I just posted a picture of him on Instagram last night and I was looking at my Dad and I’m like ‘My God, I hope I look that healthy and happy if I’ve – you know, found myself living with a long-term health condition for 30 years.’  And that’s because he’s been able to rest.

Andrew:       Yeah and there’s a – emphasises doesn’t it?  There’s a big gap between not being able to work and not being able to have a fruitful and enjoyable and effective life.

Kara:           Yes.

Andrew:       And I think that often gets lost in – understandably in the need for simple messaging and simple case studies and things like that.

Kara:           Yeah.

Andrew:       You kind of have that.

Kara:           I do think at the moment – I notice that the conversations are popping up more than since lockdown has happened and with corona virus, you know, people are suddenly worried about their income.  You know, people are being furloughed, people are losing their jobs.  I live very near to an airport and the air industry is just, you know, it’s crumbling and that’s going to have a knock-on effect in my local area and so suddenly I’m like ‘Okay, well we can – if we can get through this, let this be a lesson that if suddenly the bottom falls out of how you bring home your money, you could have a back-up plan.’  You know, let that – because it’s very – there – statistically you’re more likely to need – to become critically ill or have a long-term health condition than you are to necessarily claim on your life insurance.  And also, your life insurance, you’re not going to reap the benefits of that.

Kathryn:       Yeah.

Andrew:       Yeah.

Kara:           You know, like it’s all well and good to not leave your, you know, it’s important to not leave people, you know, in a rough financial situation when you die but, you know, life is for living and you want to make sure that you are able to do that as long as you can as easily as you can.

Kathryn:       It’s interesting saying that as well because I did an online test and I can’t remember the exact figures but it was on an insurer’s website where you can test sort of how likely it is you are going to claim on these insurances and I think, obviously I mean I’ve got everything, but I think my life insurance it was something like three percent chance I was going to claim on it but I think it was the income protection, it was something like 70 percent, 60/70 percent of me being, you know, potential for me to claim on it and it was just a case of ‘Okay, looking at statistics and medically, that information is sort of like into that.’  But talking about like the case studies and stuff like that, so very closely linked to the Income Protection Task Force, is the 7 Families’ work.

Kara:           Yeah.

Kathryn:       And just – there’s a couple of them and it actually fits in really nicely with what you were saying about that kind of – obviously for your – for your Dad it was stopping work and listening to medical professionals but for someone else where they were able to maybe gradually reintegrate back into work but again purely at the medical professionals’ sort of guidance.  So for anybody who isn’t familiar – so 7 Families was sort of an initiative that came about where a group of insurers decided to provide about 12 months’ income and all the support services you would get with an income protection policy if they had had it when they were diagnosed with certain things.  So feeding on as well last time when we were talking about strokes with Steve Casey, I was looking at one of them and it was saying that – it was a gentleman called Graeme Snell, and he was a double stroke survivor and it happened in July 2014.

And it always surprises me that someone has a stroke in the UK every five minutes and I think that’s really a huge, huge statistic but for him – he obviously got access to all these different things and to the funds and his income protection but what he said was that the main thing was that it allowed him to focus on his health and the rehabilitation, the getting better.  He didn’t have to try to rush back to work too soon.  He was able to just not struggle financially and just really take that time to focus upon him.  It gave him access to things like the RedArc nurses and support groups that are to provide obviously the medical support but the emotional support because he said that for him as well, he felt really guilty that he wasn’t more ill because even though he’d had a double stroke, he was actually coming out of it quite favourably really physically, compared to a lot of people in that situation.

That was something that Steve said as well last time that he felt quite guilty in a sense that – and it really shocked him when he could see all the people in the stroke ward compared to him and he was there like ‘Wow, I’ve really dodged the bullet here,’ kind of thing.  But for Graeme, he was able to begin some voluntary work alongside obviously being able to have this kind of financial support and it allowed him to go back into the work environment again, to test it to see how his stress levels were and to not worry still about that financial side, losing that financial support and just to test it to see if it was the right time and then maybe step back if he needed to or test it and just say ‘You know what?  I just can’t.  I just can’t simply go back.’

And for him, he was able to do something where he trained – he was able to take the time to train as a trainer for his profession so no longer being the professional in the occupation that he was but to be the trainer of that – of people who were going to eventually become him in a sense.  So he was able to adapt and carry on and I think that fits in really quite nicely with what you were saying Kara, about that whole thing of just people being able – it’s not just the financial thing.  Even more so probably than the financial thing, it’s that support to actually do what your body needs it to do to recover.

Kara:           Yes and I think – I mean with my – because my parents became unwell in the 90s, there were kind of – I don’t know, I think it’s become more advanced, the extra – the value-added benefits that are available today.  But when you say about, you know, volunteering for instance, so my Dad, you know, he was 42 – mentally he was, you know, fine.  It’s his – it was his body that let him down.  He is a very intelligent man, has several masters’ degrees, you know, he has a lot to offer and over time he was able to – because he could pace himself, he volunteers, he’s on all these committees, he raises money for the children’s burn unit at the hospital and he – he’s just doing something all the time.  My Mum thinks it’s great because it gets him out of the house a bit although not during lockdown, that’s a different story.

But he’s able to feel like he’s giving back in a way even though again it was – that’s unpaid but it gives him a bit of a – little bit of a structure to his week.  He feels like he’s using his mental capacity and I think that’s been really good for him, you know, his – his mental health but he’s been able to do that slowly over time and kind of take baby steps and see what he can do and what his limits are I guess.  And I think that that must be a really – I’ve never really thought about it until you just kind of mentioned it – we just joke that it keeps him out of Mum’s hair for a bit but, you know, that must have – that must have been – for a man at that age, you know, he was – it must have been really, really difficult to not kind of use his skills like, you know, I’m sure that must lead to all sorts of problems for people with depression and that kind of thing.

Andrew:       Yeah absolutely.  And it’s – I think intuitively it’s where we can have an honest conversation with customers that there is a shared aim in the first instance to get the person back to work and that’s in – you know, that’s in the insurer’s financial interests initially and it’s in – and it’s in the person’s interests because generally, in most situations it’s good for the individual socially etcetera to get back to work.  But – then with all of those benefits and services and the financial side of things that are there, then it does come back to this – it enables choice and it enables those options even where at some point you say ‘Well this work isn’t going to be right or appropriate for that person.’  And I think, you know –

Kara:           Yeah.

Andrew:       My Mum’s a teacher as well and absolutely there’s clearly a different level there than there may be for other occupations.

Kara:           Well I think – I – because I wrote an article for the Income Protection Task Force this month about value added benefits.  I spoke to you Kathryn about it.

Kathryn:       Yeah.

Kara:           Because I think at the moment, you know, I got an email from my broker with like ‘Did you know that you have access to 24 hours a day, seven days a week GP services?’  I didn’t know that.  I write about income protection all the time.  I’m a columnist for the Task Force but I’d never really kind of thought about that and because right now at the moment, we’re reluctant to kind of go to our GP because, you know, it’s – well we also think it’s not that bad, you know, I can wait, but you know, you might need advice or whatever and so there’s all of these resources available that I didn’t realise so I wrote about that.  But then it got me thinking at the time is – back in the day when I worked at The Telegraph, I have – I have like hyperflexible joints.

Kathryn:       Oh, hi I’m hypermobile!

Kara:           Yeah, so am I.

Kathryn:       Hey, don’t start, Andrew.

Kara:           Yeah.  Yeah, I have hyper – I am hypermobile as well.  It was a nightmare.

Kathryn:       Yay!  Yes it is.

Kara:           And so – but because I was writing like, you know, 5,000 words a week –

Kathryn:       Of course.

Kara:           But my big thing is my hand – it’s my thumb because I have a really flexible thumb.

Kathryn:       Yeah.

Kara:           And then I ended up having really bad repetitive strain and my hands would swell up and I would like have to hold them and that’s a problem.  These are – I used to joke – I’m like ‘These are my tools, my hands,’ but that is how I did my job.  If I can’t type – but it turns out, you know, I use a pen instead of a mouse and I have an arm rest and I have all of these things to enable myself to continue to work.  But I’m freelance so I don’t do as much now as I did but while I was there, I had access to onsite physiotherapy in the office so I was able to have someone help me with my hands, help set up the desk and enable me to continue to do my job.  Which was what I wanted to do – I didn’t not want to work and I think that, you know, how many years on has that been?  It’s, you know, 10 and 12 years since that all became a problem and I’m still working.  I’m still contributing.  I’m earning and that’s something just as simple as my hands were so pain- – I couldn’t sleep at night they would be so painful and I think –

Andrew:       I think –

Kara:           I think that’s such – that is worth it in itself and with the value added benefits, you have access to physiotherapy and – which you don’t when you’re a freelancer.  Like I don’t have a physiotherapist in my home office.

Andrew:       Yeah, I think that’s really important isn’t it?  That – so I’ve moved from corporate to self-employed four years ago?  Five years ago now and absolutely as with you guys, even – even though we should know better etcetera, let’s start with any statement we make in this whole area, it’s still kind of you don’t quite realise what you’ve lost in terms of, I don’t know, EAP things and some of those physio things and whatever, until you – until you –

Kara:           Until you don’t have it anymore.

Andrew:       Something goes slightly wrong and you don’t have it anymore, absolutely.  And you go ‘Well, gosh how on earth can I get that?’  And it is – it’s surprising how underplayed some of those things are.

Kara:           Well certainly I’ve had in the past when I was undergoing tests and diagnoses last year and it was taking so long and it was going on and going on.  Turned out it was all fine but I could have had access to second opinions through my – my income protection.  Like – I looked back and I thought ‘My goodness, that could have made a very stressful situation far less stressful.’  And I often say, as a person who’s self-employed, I was seeing several different departments in the hospital and in one week I was at four different hospital appointments on four different days and I only work around my daughter’s school hours so that was four of my five days shot.  And how much money did I lose doing that?  You know, you start to – when you’re self-employed, you start thinking of the time you’re out of the office in very real terms because you can see what your invoicing is not –

Andrew:       Yeah and I’ve seen it.

Kara:           Very high so that’s – that would have really – you know, if I’d have been able to speak to someone and get a second opinion, that might have hurried up that whole procedure.

Andrew:       Yeah, and we don’t – it’s difficult to make predictions at the moment about anything but I think one certain thing is there will be more people going into self-employment in the next 12 to 18 months whether through choice and dreams and vision of this wonderful life that they’re currently living or probably more realistically –

Kathryn:       They have no choice.

Andrew:       Necessity having been made redundant and – and trying something new.  And I think most people –

Kara:           I do think that particularly women are very affected by this because the extortionate cost of childcare means a lot of women have been put in a position that they say ‘Well should I stay in the work – in my office job or, you know, should I try and go and do it on my own and work flexibly?’  And – and I think that that’s when you lose, you know, your death in service benefits, you lose your – all these other things that you probably kind of take for granted and suddenly you think ‘Well I don’t really make that much money, do I really need to cover my income?’  But I found this really handy – I mean it certainly wasn’t when I was trying to make a point to my daughter’s father about how much unpaid childcare I provide and whatnot.  You know how every now and then you’re like, ‘I do the laundry and do this, I do this.’

Kathryn:       Yes.

Kara:           And the Office for National Statistics has a thing where you can calculate – an online tool where you can calculate how many hours you provide childcare and how many, you know, the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning, whatnot and then you can calculate what that would be worth in money.

Kathryn:       Oh right.

Kara:           So if you had to replace that – so if I became incapacitated and was unable to provide that childcare, you know, before my husband and I separated – he would have been at home and trying to work full-time but then he would be trying to fill the childcare provision that I was, you know, had been doing and at a cost and so, you know, it’s kind of – you can’t just look at what you’re earning on – in monetary values I think.  It’s what you’re providing for free.

Kathryn:       Absolutely.

Kara:           That somebody would have to be paid to do if you couldn’t do it.

Kathryn:       Absolutely.

Andrew:       I think it’s – it’s important to mention that the value added benefits or support services, whatever it is that we should be calling them, kick in once you get any policy so it’s not a case of – so even if you can only afford a relatively small amount of income protection, you then get the raft of these other things as I well.  I think often still for all of the good chat, it’s a whole other podcast on how long – why people don’t buy income protection or disability income products more, and obviously I guess this is one of the efforts to change that – but I think often it does come down to cost if you’re trying to protect the perfect thing.  That to start with a relatively small amount that would protect something does get you all of this stuff.  But I think what 7 Families really pulled out was at least as important as the money.

Kara:           Well yeah but I mean I’ve met – I’ve met several of the families in the 7 Families campaign and Tracey Clark for instance – she lost her vision over a very short period of time and was unable to do her job and she says over and over that it was the additional support that was almost of better value to her because she still wanted to be able to live a life and she had to suddenly learn how to do that without her vision and so she, you know, and she had the right experts that were to-hand that were able to help her learn how to use technology in a different way.  And, you know, those – if you don’t have access to that, that’s – the day can be very long.  You know, if you don’t have the things that make you happy and I think a lot of people tend to think ‘Well you just think about cancer or heart attacks or strokes,’ but there are so many ways that you can be unwell but you still want to be able to try and live your life as, you know, as happily as you can and if support is going to help do that then – then that’s priceless really.

Kathryn:       Absolutely.  I think what’s good as well with 7 Families and linking back to something we said as well, is that they offer this ‘How Finvincible Are You?’ quiz and it’s sort of quite a light version – not too intense if anybody wants to be involved and everything.  So you can do it, there’s a few questions just see sort of how financially invincible you are.  So Andrew, I think you’ve possibly got a few things that you wanted to talk about in regards to income protection and the dreaded C-word at the moment.

Andrew:       Yeah we can’t avoid it so – and I think certainly initially income protection was probably the focus around insurance and corona virus for pretty obvious reasons I think and there were movements made by insurers in that initial phase for – especially for very short-term income protection.  So most people who have income protection would have income protection that starts paying when you’ve been off work for maybe three months.  So D-13 policies, 13-week deferment periods, lots of jargon there I’m sorry but basically you have to be off work for three months before things pay but there are also income protection policies that start paying when you’ve been off literally for one day or one week or four weeks.

And so quite a few of those shorter-term income protection policies you now can’t buy at the moment or have a specific corona virus exclusion on.  If you had an income protection policy bought certainly before this year, then there’s no change to the terms and conditions of those policies and you can still claim if you’re off work for any reason, corona virus or anything else, and those pay.  So I think as with any of these things it’s about – if you’ve got insurance already and you think you might have a claim, you’re always best to call your adviser or the insurer and – and discuss those things but there’s certainly no change to existing policies that’s – that’s – that’s gone into place.

Kara:           I think the big thing, sorry, a big thing that I tend to mention to readers often is that if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Andrew:       Yeah.

Kara:           So you might have these policies in place but they’re there for you to use, that’s why you buy them.  So pick up the phone or, you know, do an online chat and just see what is available to help you.  The worst-case scenario, nothing at that point maybe.  But you might be able to get some kind of support you may not realise and it’s always worth a try.  So if you don’t contact them, you’re not going to know.

Andrew:       Absolutely, and I think certainly again with even the longer term periods to payment, the insurer – back to the practical – the insurer will want to know as soon as possible so that they can help you and they’d rather pay for three physio sessions for your back or for your thumb than wait six months by which point you haven’t been working for six months and there’s much harder hurdles.  So – so absolutely I think, get in touch with messages.  Always write and get in touch as early as you can is – is absolutely key.  And yeah then – I think then we’re looking – almost as insurers are now probably we’re what two months in?  And I think there is now beginning to be more looking – more time to look ahead more positively and think about this changing world and looking to what products might come next and might better fit the needs of peoples’ changed expectations and some of that speaks to self-employment.

Some speak to this kind of blurring of lines, I think, between medical and economic reality.  So it will be a while ‘til we see those new products but I think every insurer is now looking around this area so if you have good ideas, whether or not you work in an insurer, an adviser or just chance upon this podcast and it’s really good time I think to speak up with those, because it – it’s a – you know – it’s all up – it’s all up in the air and will continue to be for a few months.

Kathryn:       So, we’re at that stage of the podcast where we come to our famous truth or lie feature and we’re going to do a mix.  Obviously we had Steve on last time, we’ve got Kara on this time which is fantastic.  So, I’m going to start it off by saying that my favourite family game is Taboo.

Andrew:       Okay, so I’ll go – my, our favourite family game is Mario Kart.

Kara:           And my favourite game to play with my family is Twister.

Kathryn:       So there you go. We have to try and figure out which one of us is telling a lie.  Well I want to say thank you obviously to everybody for listening and thank you Kara for joining us.  It’s been a pleasure having you on.

Kara:           Thanks for having me.

Kathryn:       It’s been lovely.  It’s been lovely to speak with you and hear about obviously all your real experiences where income protection has obviously been extremely, very, very powerfully important to you and your family.  If anybody does have any questions at all or wants to discuss anything, please do send us a message.

Andrew:       Yeah, thank you so much Kara.  We – Kathryn and I will be back in two weeks so if you want a reminder of the next episode then please do drop us a message on social media or visit our website, www.practical-protection.co.uk.  And we are always keen to hear what you like, what you don’t like etcetera.

Kathryn:       Andrew likes to hear what you don’t like.

Andrew:       Yeah, I like the challenge.  We are really – it genuinely does keep us going.  I think each time we kind of hear different things from – from very different people which – which is really good to know that it’s – it’s reaching deep into the bowels of insurers and advisers and all that stuff.  So thank you for getting in touch and, yeah, have a good couple of weeks and we’ll speak to you all soon.  Thank you.

Kathryn:       Thank you Kara, bye.

Kara:           Thank you.  Bye.

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