Peace of Mind

By Allison Bench

Erin Wallace calls her daughter Rose a miracle baby. Rose was born in Calgary in February 2021: conceived and carried through the pandemic. But that’s not what makes Rose a miracle.

Her birth is remarkable because Erin was told she may never be able to conceive after going through extensive chemotherapy treatments and a stem cell transplant in 2014, after she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

However, one silver lining during that tough time was that Erin and her husband, Ryan Fairweather, thought ahead and purchased Manulife critical illness insurance through AMA Insurance. Their coverage not only helped give them peace of mind. They received a $100,000 cheque to use on whatever they needed as Erin battled her illness.

“I couldn’t work for an entire year,” Erin says. “That’s where that insurance payment was really helpful. It helped us pay for things like a house cleaner, (and) just our bills and groceries and such.”

A Happy Family

Not having to worry about your finances is why critical illness insurance can be a game-changer.

“The payout is just tied to you having a diagnosis—it’s not tied to your occupation, or your ability to do your occupation or not,” says Kris Hird, manager of Life and Health at AMA Insurance.

“It’s just, ‘Here you go, use the money for whatever you want to. Income loss, treatment, expenses, travel, paying down debts, peace of mind.'”

Erin took some of the money and used it to save some of her eggs, remembering what her medical team had told her about possible fertility issues.

The resilient Albertan battled her illness successfully and was cancer free in 2015. The couple then started trying for a family in early 2020 and were ready for the next step in the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process. But without any help, Erin miraculously became pregnant with Rose.

“We were making the appointments and everything, and then, I just so happened to get pregnant at that time,” she says. While she didn’t end up needing IVF, Erin believes the fact it was available helped her and Ryan stay stress-free as they tried for a family.

“There’s all this anxiety around getting pregnant. It works against you. So, the fact that we had done the IVF, I didn’t have those feelings around getting pregnant.”

Erin, now 38, looks back on some of the things her critical illness insurance helped the couple purchase, like a down payment on a home and an SUV. She believes it helped them move to the next stage.

“That payment definitely helped us achieve the life we have now,” she said. “We’ve been in this house six years now. And we have that second bedroom that is now Rose’s nursery.”

Think of what your future self might need

Rose’s birth was not without its challenges. Her mother needed more cancer treatments after her lymphoma returned three months into her pregnancy

But Erin credits her experience with her illness. It changed her advice from telling others not only to buy the critical illness policy but to think of what their future self might need.

“I’m so, so grateful that we had (the coverage) because it got us through such a critical time. In hindsight, I wish my policy was bigger—because I got cancer so young,” Erin says.

“Because what I would have done is used what we needed at the time, but then invested or saved the remainder, like my own personal critical illness insurance policy against future illness.”

AMA Insurance recommend you get a policy that equals at least six to 12 months of your take-home income but to make sure you balance out what you might need from life, disability, and critical illness options.

“Everybody has a budget of what they can spend their money on,” says Hird. “Have some of each type of insurance because they’re all covering and protecting a different thing.”

Erin is currently cancer free. She and her husband Ryan have been together since 2009. The couple, along with their daughter Rose and their two dogs, live in Calgary area.

What’s right for you?

AMA Insurance partners with many different life and health insurance companies to help Albertans choose the best policies for their needs. It’s recommended you get life, disability, and critical illness insurance, but if you’re wondering what those provide coverage for, here are the basics:

Life Insurance

An insurance meant to provide for your loved ones after you pass away. There are three types of life insurance—term, whole, and universal. Which one is right for you can depend on a variety of factors. An AMA Insurance Life & Health advisor can help explain each type and recommend which is best for you.   

Critical Illness Insurance

In the event you are diagnosed with a serious illness, critical illness insurance provides a lump-sum payment with no restrictions on how it’s used.

Disability Insurance

Provides a monthly benefit if you have an injury or illness that prevents you from working.