In recent weeks, you may have seen TV presenter Jonnie Irwin talk candidly on TV and in the media about his cancer diagnosis.
The A Place in the Sun presenter was given only six months to live when he was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in August 2020. The 49-year-old has revealed that this cancer has since spread to his brain.
Initially, the presenter of the popular property show wasn’t going to make the diagnosis public due to fears he would lose work. However, in November 2022, Irwin had a change of heart and opened up about the illness, saying he wanted to “get the monkey off his back”.
Irwin has a wife, Jessica, and three young children – Rex is three, and twins Rafa and Cormac are two years old – and so is acutely aware of the need to ensure his family are provided for when he is no longer around.
Recently, he has opened up about the “mistake” he made when arranging his life insurance and urged others not to make the same error. Read on to find out more.
Jonnie has spoken candidly about his cancer diagnosis
Since opening up about his terminal cancer diagnosis, there has been an outpouring of support for the presenter who has continued to talk candidly about his illness and the effect on those close to him.
Speaking to BBC Morning Live hosts Gethin Jones and Kimberley Walsh before Christmas, the 49-year-old presenter recalled the devastating moment he found out that he had cancer after experiencing blurry vision when filming A Place In The Sun in 2020.
While he admitted that, initially, “everything fell apart for me, personally” he then decided he wanted to take back control by ensuring his young family would be provided for after he passed away.
“I knew I had to look after my family – as soon as you've got a family, you have this massive responsibility,” he said, explaining that he has already sold properties he was renting out and looked at his savings in order to make sure his family would be financially secure.
“Most people should do this every five years anyway – just see how much you're worth and where everything is," he advised. “We all put it off because it seems kind of macabre,” he added.
Jonnie has also been vocal about the life insurance “mistake” he made when it came to his own policy.
When arranging his cover, he did not take out Critical Illness protection. This type of cover typically provides policyholders with a lump sum if they are diagnosed with a serious form of cancer, and often covers other illnesses such as a heart attack, stroke, and multiple sclerosis.
Overlooking Critical Illness cover left Jonnie with a protection “gap”
Talking to the BBC, the A Place in the Sun star said that he wasn’t aware there was a crucial gap in the protection he had put in place for his family.
“You want to make sure they're looked after,” he said of his wife Jessica and their three young sons. “But what I didn't realise is there's a gap, and critical illness covers this gap.”
One of the key benefits of Critical Illness cover is that it pays out on diagnosis, and so can provide valuable financial support while you’re undergoing treatment. It enables you to focus on your recovery and your family without having to worry about work or how you’ll pay your mortgage and other regular commitments.
Failing to take out this cover, and so having to continue to work while he was ill, was something the presenter regrets.
He adds: “Critical Illness is a policy you take alongside [life insurance] that kicks in as soon as you're ill. I didn't take that, and that put a lot of pressure on me, having to work on days I didn't really want to work.
“That is the one mistake I made, and I'd say to everyone to get it out. Even if you haven't got dependents, get it out to look after yourself.”
Critical Illness cover provides you with a valuable tax-free lump sum when you need it
Jonnie’s story shows that a serious illness can happen at any time. The presenter was just 47 when he was given his terminal cancer diagnosis, and he will leave behind a wife and three young children when he passes away.
While life insurance will ensure Jonnie’s family receive a lump sum – and often this sum is paid on diagnosis of a terminal illness ahead of death – the presenter identifies that there could be months or years between a terminal diagnosis and death. During this time, you will still have to meet all your regular commitments.
Critical Illness cover is designed to provide you with financial support in this situation. It enables you to take an extended period off work to focus on your recovery without having to worry about having to earn money to support your family.
You can use the payout to:
- Replace your income if you have to take an extended period off work
- Pay off your mortgage or other debts
- Meet the costs of specialist treatment
- Cover the cost of additional expenses you might incur, such as travel to and from a hospital for treatment
- Make adaptations to your home if required.
As Jonnie says: “When you get a terminal diagnosis, it [life insurance] covers you for when you are gone, and probably for your last few months. But terminal diagnoses can go on for years, and your illness obviously affects your work – so if you're unable to work and you're waiting for this payout, who's going to pay the rent or mortgage?”
A tax-free lump sum on diagnosis of a serious illness
Figures from Cancer Research UK suggest that 1 in 2 people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some time in their life.
Of course, being diagnosed with an illness like cancer or multiple sclerosis, or having a heart attack or stroke, can be more devastating if you’re younger and you have a partner or family. How will they cope if you can’t work for weeks or months because of your condition?
Critical Illness cover plugs this “gap”, as Jonnie calls it. It ensures there is financial support available when you need it the most, enabling you to maintain your standard of living and look after your family while you recuperate.
We can help you to find the right Critical Illness cover for your needs
The A Place in the Sun star’s advice is quite clear when it comes to Critical Illness protection:
“I'd say to everyone to get it out. Even if you haven't got dependents, get it out to look after yourself.”
As Critical Illness cover experts, we can help you to find the right cover for you and your family.
We work with dozens of leading insurers – the likes of Aviva, Legal & General, Vitality, LV=, Royal London, and Scottish Widows – and so we can compare prices and the quality of cover to ensure you benefit from the protection you need.
If you want to avoid Jonnie’s “mistake”, get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you.
Alternatively, get a quick Critical Illness cover quote online now.
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