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Alan Knowles: Funding life-enhancing tech with protection

Last month, I attended Naidex, Europe’s largest disability event. It was a truly inspiring and eye-opening experience, and to sit and speak with other companies that help people with disabilities was humbling to say the least.

It quickly became clear that the way we speak with people who have disabilities has a profound effect on our business relationships.

One lady explained how she once had somebody say, “Aw, bless you. How long have you been in a wheelchair?” with a sympathetic pat on the head.

Her reply was, “Since I woke up this morning. And, by the way, I’m not something to pity and don’t pat me like you would your pet. I am a person and I’m proud to be who I am. Next time why don’t you try saying, ‘cool wheelchair; how long have you had that?’ Then I might give you a proper answer.”

It was a common theme: people do not want to be pitied, they want to be listened to and respected. Having a disability does not define a person. It contributes to who they are but it is certainly not their identity.

I also saw some of the most amazing, innovative technology, such as wireless bilateral stimulation watches to reduce stress and help people with conditions like Parkinson’s, ADHD and autism. There were robotic exoskeletons to help people walk again after having a spinal cord injury and sensory rooms and gadgets for disabled children that can have such a huge impact on their development.

I was in awe of the determination of the people attending the event, to engage with all these innovations to overcome their disabilities.

But being there made me think of the cost of all this kit (the prices can be eye-watering) and many explained how much trouble they had insuring it.

An event like this highlights just how many things someone would need to consider buying if they become severely ill or disabled. You only had to look at the number of exhibitors there – no less than 200 – to illustrate this.

As we all know, having critical illness cover and income protection can be hugely beneficial in allowing someone to pay their mortgage and bills, but a bit more cover can go a long way to funding some of the life-enhancing tech I saw.

Without protection, people are faced with paying out thousands of pounds on this kit and are struggling like mad to insure it.

Many are having to decide whether they can afford to pay for equipment that could significantly improve their quality of life on the risk it breaks, gets stolen or something happens while travelling.

A sensible amount of critical illness and income protection can go a long way to easing such financial concerns.

Alan Knowles is chairman of the Protection Distributors Group

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