Empty nester?

Many baby-boomers look forward to the day when their last child leaves home to make their own way in the world, and Mum and Dad enter the realm of the “empty nester”.

Just imagine, a time when you call the shots and your life is not dictated by the demands of your children.

Now, I am not suggesting that we love our children any less and, like most parents, we will do (almost) anything for them, but their independence also brings us independence.

I was reflecting on a situation last weekend that snapped me back to reality.

I heard of a couple with young children, who are dealing with a very difficult situation. The husband has been diagnosed with cancer and is about to embark on some pretty heavy treatment including chemo-therapy. As a result, he will be unable to work for some months. Needless to say, this is a young family’s worse nightmare.

But not only are they dealing with the worry about the treatment their husband and father is undergoing, they will be facing financial difficulties as one wage has now stopped. All annual leave and sick leave has been used up.

The first thing I did when this situation was raised, was to take a look at any insurance that might be in place. Sadly, there was none. Even though this young father’s superannuation includes life and total and permanent disablement insurance, income protections insurance (designed to replace wages during a time of temporary incapacity) was an option that was not taken up.

At this stage it appears the only hope for this family will be to hopefully receive a sickness allowance from Centrelink.

Australians are chronically under insured. We simple don’t hold the levels and types of insurance we really need to help us and our families through difficult times. But then, we are all bullet proof. Things happen to other people…and not to us.

Or do they?

Now we can rant and rave for hours about how important it is for our kids to have appropriate levels of insurance but, it will generally fall on deaf ears.

Sadly, all too often I come across cases where an illness or injury suffered by the kids of pre or post retirees throws life into absolute chaos, simply because insufficient or inappropriate insurance was in place.

I recall one case a while back where a new retiree had to re-enter the workforce. Their son-in-law was tragically killed, leaving a wife and new baby and no financial support. The retiree had to go back to work in order to support his daughter and her baby. That frankly, is unfair and is so avoidable.

As parents, we will do anything for our kids…and this may involve having to come out of retirement and re-enter the workforce in order to support them but, there is an option.

Now, I clearly understand that our kids believe they are bullet proof and no amount of cajoling on our part will convince them to take insurance seriously. They will argue that bad stuff happens to “other people” and, besides that, they have insurance as part of their superannuation. But how adequate is it? Often the amount and type of cover provided falls well short of what is actually needed.

Insurance for young people is generally surprisingly affordable.

For peace of mind, perhaps there is a case to be argued for parents to be taking out insurance on the lives of their children. Sadly, by doing this, we are not teaching our kids to take responsibility and to stand on their own feet but perhaps taking out insurance on behalf of our children is the “lesser of two evils”.

At least, if a tragedy were to befall one of our children, we will be free to provide unfettered emotional and family support, without the added financial burden.

Just a sobering thought…

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