You’re thrilled to be coming home from the hospital or care facility after you’ve been ill. But whether you had a stroke, are managing cancer that’s impacted your mobility or have other limitations to your movement, your house may not be as welcoming as you remember it. Reaching overhead items, moving through narrow doorways, using the kitchen counter or going to the bathroom can all be ten times harder — or nearly impossible — if you’re using a walker or wheelchair.
If you have any type of physical issue associated with a major illness like heart attack, stroke or cancer, you may need temporary or permanent changes in your home to make it easier for you to live like normal. That’s where critical illness insurance comes in.
What is Critical Illness Insurance?
Unlike health insurance, which pays for your medical bills, or disability insurance, which pays you a monthly amount if you can’t work, critical illness insurance pays for your incidental expenses that occur if you become ill. Most policies are designed to pay if you have a heart attack, stroke or cancer, but you may also get coverage for a handful of other diseases.
The insurance policy pays you a lump sum if you’re diagnosed with a covered illness. Few limitations dictate what you can spend the money on, so you can pay for household expenses, child or pet care while you’re sick or a big project like buying a car you can use or retrofitting your home.
How Much Does Retrofitting Your Home Cost?
You may pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand to ensure you can continue to live and thrive in your home after a disability. Updates fall into two categories: accessibility improvements that are more permanent, like lowering countertops and bathroom fixtures and making doorways wider, and adaptability improvements like installing grab bars and making doorknobs lower. If you need the former types of changes, you’ll be spending more.
Even if you’re not confined to a wheelchair, you may find that getting around your home is easier with ramps instead of stairs. If you live in a multiple-story home, you may consider installing a lift that will help you get up the steps, or remodeling your home so your bedroom, bathroom and kitchen are all easily accessible on the ground floor.
You’ll also want to make smaller changes that can range from installing more lighting to changing your flooring to something softer in case you fall.
One 2016 survey found that the average U.S. homeowner pays $5,233 for retrofitting their home — although this figure includes seniors doing simpler updates that fall into the category of adaptability improvements. Just building an exterior ramp can cost nearly $2,000.
Several types of grants exist that can help homeowners retrofit their homes, but remember that these are designed for seniors and low-income people with few assets. You may not qualify, while at the same time, financing these updates is more than your bank account can handle. That’s why critical illness insurance is so important — to make sure you can meet your needs during a tough time, without financial stress.
How Do You Find a Contractor to Retrofit Your Home?
When you’ve been dealing with a major illness, you have a lot of things to take care of — you probably don’t have time to carefully weigh all the contractors in your area who can retrofit your home. At the same time, you don’t want to fall victim to a mediocre contractor who smells a fat paycheck.
Fortunately, finding a reputable contractor is easier than ever using online tools. You want to look for someone who is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS). Even if you’re not a senior, the types of remodeling projects necessary for accessibility are similar; the requirements for earning the designation were developed by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the AARP.
Once you have a list of potential contractors, a family member or friend can help you look at reviews online or call the Better Business Bureau to eliminate any contractor with a less-than-stellar reputation. Knowledgeable retrofitting contractors will want to look at your home and discuss with you what your needs are before preparing a quote; they may have some excellent suggestions based on their background and expertise.
What Else Do You Need to Know About Using Critical Illness Insurance to Retrofit Your Home?
Critical illness insurance, while gaining in popularity, still isn’t as widely understood as other types of insurance, so it’s helpful to understand exactly how it would work if you quality for a payment.
First, you do have to have your illness confirmed by an official medical diagnosis. But you don’t get your payment immediately; most policies have a 30-day (or longer) waiting time that’s called a “survival” period. While you’re waiting for the funds to retrofit your house, you can be researching and meeting with contractors — or having a family member do so while you’re in medical care — so you can be ready to go once this waiting period has ended.
You’ll also not need to provide proof of what you’re using the funds for, in most cases, but it would be prudent to keep copies of any invoices and paperwork from your contractor to ensure you have a paper trail.
If you have more questions about critical illness insurance, what it will cover and whether it’s right for you, you can chat live here or call us at 888-487-2006 for a free consultation. We’d be happy to help you understand the details — whether you’d use your payment for retrofitting a house or for any of the many expenses that may come up while you’re recovering from a major illness.