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Illustration by Lee McGorie / The National
Illustration by Lee McGorie / The National

As accidents do happen, check your UAE insurance policy

Superwomen: Janelle Malone's group of fictional friends illustrate the importance of adequate insurance cover.

Stressed-out superwomen, listen to Abby's cautionary tale.

She was in her Dubai office one hectic day, rubbing her temples. Her head was pounding, so she rested it on her desk (well, on a river of paper - mostly financial reports and spread sheets) for a minute to recover.

She had so much to do. Yet Abby had to be out of the office and on the road before 7pm as she had to be in Abu Dhabi that evening for an important client meeting.

Accidents happen

The next thing Abby knew, she was coming to in a hospital bed, the whirring and bleeping of the machines rousing her from a groggy fog. Her head was still aching, and her entire body felt like it had been through a grinder. She groaned as she tried to sit up. "No need to talk now, I'm here; rest up," Sasha whispered.

"What happened? Where am I? What are you doing here?" Abby moaned, her throat dry and hoarse. "You're OK. You're in hospital. You've been in a car accident but you're going to be just fine," said Sasha, stroking her hand.

On her way to Abu Dhabi, Abby's car had careered off Sheikh Zayed Road. Her Mercedes Benz C-Class was a wreck; her knee was fractured where she'd cracked it on the steering wheel, and the rest of her body felt battered and bruised. Her conscience had also taken a dent because, while the accident hadn't been entirely her fault, she knew that if she'd had more sleep and been concentrating less on her presentation and more on the road, the accident might not have happened.

"Urgh, I feel terrible! And this is the last thing I need!" she grumbled.

True, it was an inconvenience. Abby would be off her feet for at least six weeks, and her knee would require serious physical therapy. She wouldn't be able to go back to work for a while, but deep down, she knew she'd been fortunate. She could have lost much more - including her life.

But Abby, who was single, had been smart about being prepared for such an accident. She long ago realised that having no insurance was simply not a viable option. Her employment contract covered her to some extent, but it was by no means comprehensive, so she had made sure her car and health insurance, as well as her disability and death insurance, were up-to-date. Her hospital bills would be paid, and her savings would assist her in meeting all her financial commitments while she was unable to work.

Wealth Diva SMS

Please check your health insurance and life coverage. Since 2008, insurance coverage with many employers has changed and covers less. Whether married or single, you should be fully protected by your insurance.

- If you are an expat, it is vital to ensure that your insurance policy is valid while you are living in the UAE. Many policies from your home country may not be applicable here. Do your research and double check the terms and validity of your insurance with your carrier.

- On the topic of employers, go over your employment contract to ascertain exactly what you are covered for. The UAE law does guarantee certain protections, but these are often subject to interpretation. You need to understand fully how far your policy extends, and then make provisions for more comprehensive cover.

- What if you should need medical attention? What if you were to become critically ill? Your own mortality is not a pleasant topic, but it's a very important one. If you don't plan for these things, and statistics show that most people don't, when tragic events occur and you're not protected, would anyone be able to pay your mortgage and other bills?

- Insurance coverage helps you prevent a personal tragedy from becoming a financial tragedy. It help covers both short-term and long-term expenses. It often protects the earning power of the individual. Some types of insurance pay the mortgage, buy the groceries, and cover the college tuition for the children. If you have people relying on your income, insurance is a no-brainer.

- The best way to determine your insurance needs is to consult a licensed professional. Be sure to enquire about their experience, their clients and the types of plans they prepare. Your family's future depends on it, and don't rely on your bank for the best options. Insurance of any kind, particularly relating to your life, is exactly that - a personal and tailored plan. Everyone is different. Don't be one of those people who simply buys cost over benefit.

Abby off road

Now, back to Abby. She was a very lucky woman. Not only did she have the right type of insurance coverage for her accident, but she was also covered should something more serious have arisen.

In the event that she had fallen critically ill, or been disabled, her insurance would have stepped in and met all her bills. Do you have comprehensive insurance or a pot of savings for a rainy day should you be unable to work?

Sasha sat by Abby's side and brought her a pile of women's magazines to read. There are some things in life that you really can't put a price tag on - such as the true value of a best friend when you need one. Abby grabbed Sasha's hand. Nothing needed to be said. All was good.

Global statistics

Stress is a killer! As the World Health Organisation says, "Each year nearly 20 million people survive heart attacks and strokes; many requiring continuing, and costly, medical care."

Janelle Malone is a writer, blogger and commentator on personal finance. You can contact her at www.womenmoneyandstyle.com

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