Find out how trauma insurance can protect you in case of stroke.
The ongoing effects of a person suffering a stroke can be severe. It is not only the patients who experience devastating changes to their lives but also those who are close to them Stroke survivors left with a disability are more likely to suffer what is known as "profound core activity limitation" than does another person suffering from a disability. This means that a stroke victim is not able to independently achieve adequate communication, mobility or self care levels without the help of others.
Will you be covered by trauma insurance if you have a stroke?
Yes, critical illness insurance or trauma insurance typically provides a lump sum payout if you suffer from a stroke in the future. This lump sum can provide you and your family with resources to assist with medical expenses and rehabilitation.
What specific circumstances enable a payout?
Trauma insurance is much like life insurance except that it pays out if your circumstances meet the definition of a traumatic event occurring, such as having a stroke. Unlike life insurance, a payout occurs if the insured survives a critical condition (as opposed to when the insured person passes away).
Insurers will often require a certain ‘threshold’ to be met before defining a stroke. Threshold requirements will vary between insurers and can include:
The stroke timeframe, how long it was between showing symptoms and receiving medical attention, has a big impact on how severe it is likely to be. As such, insurers will often use a definition of stroke that relates to the timeframe. For instance, some insurers will even require that the onset of treatment is greater than 24 hours before it's defined a stroke.
Diagnosis confirmed by Neurologist
Some insurers may require stroke diagnosis to be confirmed by a specialist, or they won't agree to define it as a stroke. This can be difficult to do after the fact, and even more difficult before.
Some insurers may require a series of diagnostic tests to have been undertaken before they recognise your health event as a stroke. This can include:
- A computed tomography (CT) scan
- A magnetic resonance image (MRI) scan
Conditions to be cautions of
- All evidence needs be supportive of insurers definition. Disputes involving trauma insurance claims indicate that some insurers may decline claims based on one aspect of clinical evidence, despite the effect of the stroke on the policyholder and other clinical evidence supporting the diagnosis.
- Payment amounts can vary. Strokes, caused by disruption of blood flow to the brain and can result in physical or mental disabilities, and may be the cause of death, disablement or chronic health issues. This is largely unpredictable, so the payout for a stroke can vary enormously depending on whether an insurer is paying for only medical treatments, or an entire lifetime of around-the-clock care.
Stroke in Australia
In Australia, stroke is one of the top four medical occurrences that invoke a trauma insurance claim being made and according to the National Stroke Foundation it is the second leading cause of death following coronary heart disease. As such it is also a leading cause of disability. To put it in perspective, one stroke event occurs somewhere in Australia every 10 minutes according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The risk of occasioning a stroke is far more likely than most people realise as according to the Australian government body, AIHW, (the Authoritative Information and statistics to promote better Health and Wellbeing), 346,700 Australian have suffered a stroke at some time in their lives. In 2006/07, 34,476 people were hospitalised because of suffering a stroke and in 2006, 8,484 died from suffering a stroke. It was also found that eighty percent of people suffering a stroke were 60 years or over, this means 20 percent, or one fifth, were still of working age. The figures also revealed that stroke was the main cause of disability in Australia with over 140,000 suffering from such an infliction in any one year. A surprising revelation was that more women die of stroke than do men although more men than women suffer from the effects of such an illness.
In 2007/08 in Australia 7.1 percent of all men suffered from a stroke and 5.8 percent of women. For those between 65 and 74 years of age, 24 percent of men suffered from the effects of stroke and 13 percent of women. Although older people clearly succumb to the disease more than younger people a large proportion of the population below 60 years of age are still afflicted.
Trauma insurance can often help during this period of financial need as the funds from such insurance can go towards paying for rehabilitation, general living expenses and medical needs. It can also help with any changes that may have to be made around the house to improve access etc.
What is stroke?
Suffering from a stroke is the one main cause of adult disability in Australia and the second most common cause of death. Cerebrovascular disease, as its clinically known, happens when the blood supply to the brain is disrupted. This is often the result of a blood clot. There are two types of stroke that are most common, these being:
- Haemorrhagic stroke. A type of stroke that takes place when a blood vessel ruptures either inside or near the brain. When this occurs blood spurts out from the rupture damaging the soft brain tissue by tearing. Nature attends to this by forming a clot but this remedy, although stemming the blood loss, will squash that area of brain resulting in the effected brain tissue dying.
- Ischaemic stroke is the more common of the two. In fact it's five times more common and it happens when an artery feeding blood to the brain becomes blocked. If the blockage cuts the blood supply for more than a couple of minutes the part of the brain effected stops working and brain tissue begins to die. The blockage must be cleared immediately otherwise the entire area effected will be totally destroyed in a matter of hours. In this case the brain will be permanently effected. It's then called brain infarction.
Statistics show that about 30 percent of people who've suffered from an ischaemic stroke will have also suffered from a mini stroke beforehand called a Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA). The characteristics are the same but TIA symptoms will disappear within 24 hours. It does serve as a warning sign however that a far more serious ischaemic stroke is pending.
How can stroke be prevented and what are the risk factors?
Stroke is a most dangerous medical condition that, if it doesn't lead to your death, can leave you totally and permanently disabled for the rest of your life. A stroke victim who survives, more often than not is left unable to earn a living, living become a task in itself and any dependants you might have under your care would suffer a bleak financial future if you didn't have trauma insurance to help keep you and your family financially independent of government welfare. However,there are certain risk factors that you should make yourself aware of and if you do your best to avoid these risks the danger of experiencing a stroke can be much avoided. These risk factors are:
- Obesity. A much maligned condition that causes many serious medical complications, stroke being one of them. This is because obesity results in high blood pressure which is often accompanied by high cholesterol. This can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes, all of which increases your risk of experiencing a stroke. Diet and exercise can help control obesity.
- High cholesterol. You need not be obese to have a high cholesterol count even though obesity increases the risk of your cholesterol rising. This condition is dangerous because it can result in blood vessel disease. It can be managed however with the proper medication and diet.
- Diabetes. A disease that can damage your whole circulatory system by narrowing your arteries. This seriously effects your blood flow. Type 2 diabetes is often linked to obesity but this is not necessarily so in all cases. Diabetics can be of any size and it's often the case that obesity is caused by the insulin medication prescribed to treat diabetes. If you are diagnosed as being diabetic you have to watch your diet and exercise as regularly as possible to help avoid having a stroke.
- High blood pressure. Clinically known as hypertension, high blood pressure is probably one of the main causes of stroke. High blood pressure can be controlled with proper medication, a strict diet and regular exercise.
- Smoking. The habit of smoking causes many adverse medical conditions and stroke is but one of them. This is because smoking results in plaque building up in your arteries, which, in turn, creates high blood pressure. It also reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood. Put all this together and a stroke can result.
- Alcohol. Excessive drinking of alcohol, and experts say this is any more than two standard drinks a day, can lead to high blood pressure, especially as you age. Like smoking, it's a lifestyle decision you're faced with but if you continue to smoke and drink excessively you could find it hard to get trauma insurance to help you out financially should you suffer from this debilitating disease.
The importance of FAST
Some strokes may be quite mild, in fact a person may not be aware that they even suffered a stroke, or they might recover quickly and go about their normal daily life without fully understanding the time bomb they have become. In an effort to increase stroke awareness the National Stroke Foundation conducts an ongoing campaign named 'Strokesafe'. This campaign makes much of a simple test called 'FAST'. It has purposely been made easy so that people can come to recognise and respond to stroke symptoms when they come across it. This simple test is as follows:
F – Facial weakness.
A – Arm weakness.
S – Speech difficulties.
T – Time to act – fast.
Bad habits and certain illnesses can increase risk of stroke.
Life insurance companies who administer trauma insurance are conscious of the need to lessen the debilitating effects suffered by many stroke victims and are constantly making an effort to educate people on what habits help to increase the risk of having a stroke such as:
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Specific medical conditions such as atrial fibrillation and thrombocytosis
- High blood pressure and or raised blood cholesterol
- Poor nutrition
- Physical inactivity
- Being a male
- Family history of stroke
- Advanced age
- Personal medical history of previous CVA
Urgent medical treatment is always needed to treat anybody suffering from a stroke. Sufferers should always, without exception, be taken to the nearest emergency care hospital as soon as possible. If the stroke victim is unconscious they may require airway support including mechanical ventilation in order to prevent respiratory failure.
Life insurance companies are aware that rehabilitation is costly and very often limited in accessibility. This is due, on many occasions, to a lack of sufficient specialised health care resources. A patient with trauma insurance provided by a life insurance company can often gain a successful outcome if they receive appropriate rehabilitation suited to their individual circumstances. Trauma insurance takes care of the gap between life insurance, income protection and total and permanent disability insurance. Trauma insurance benefits will be paid by the life insurance company if the insured should die due to the lack of blood to the brain, a loss of brain function and several potential impairments which include mobility limitations, thought process and the ability to communicate.