As part of our financial planning conversations with you, we always bring the attention around to subjects that are not easy to think about – a serious illness or death visiting a family member or indeed yourself. We all naturally don’t want to spend too long thinking about this, but unfortunately for us to do our job properly it’s a subject that we simply must contemplate.
The reason for this is because we’ve seen the cost of not thinking about it. We can all picture the devastation, grief and loss that accompanies a death or serious illness. However we’ve also seen at first hand the catastrophic financial consequences that can follow. We’ve seen families losing their total income and the enormous financial impacts of a serious illness where home adaptations and specialist care services are needed. We’ve seen family members becoming carers because there are no alternatives.
So we spend time considering the best financial products to protect you in these circumstances – the ones that work best for you, have the most appropriate benefits and that are available at the lowest cost. All these are important considerations.
But the most important consideration is what happens when you claim.
For this reason, we were very interested to examine Irish Life’s recent claims statistics, which give some insight into trends in this area.
Irish Life paid out on average €5.75 million every week for a total of 7,900 claims during 2018. This came to €299m over the year. When you dig a little deeper into the figures, there are some very interesting findings.
Living benefits made up the lion’s share
Lots of people think only about pay-outs on death when they hear of protection claims. In fact 72% of the total number of Irish Life’s claims in 2018 were for living benefits - lump sums for specified illnesses and regular payments for being unable to work due to illness or accident. Life assurance claims made up the balance – 28% of the total number of claims for a not insignificant amount of €119m.
Cancer is the No. 1 cause of claims
Cancer is the big issue. 2 in 3 specified illness claims were for cancer, followed by heart conditions in a distant second. Cancer also accounted for 45% of life assurance claims. Irish Life saw the level of claims rise for cancer in 2018 - up 8% for specified illness claims and 14% for life assurance claims.
The gender differences are interesting
Women remain under-insured for life assurance – only one in three life assurance claims were for women. This is a statistic that we as an industry are determined to tackle.
In terms of living benefits though, almost 75% of income protection claims were for women, who also on average claim at a younger age than men. The specified illness claims figures are more gender neutral, with 54% of the claims for men. But within this there were some interesting gender differences,
75% of claims for women were for malignant cancer
There were four times more claims by men for diagnosed heart related conditions
There were three times more claims by men for strokes.
We think the learning from this is that while women are more aware of and financially protect themselves against getting ill, more needs to be done to raise awareness of the need for women to financially protect their loved ones against their death.
Claims are what count. Having that certainty that if such an event is visited upon you, the key is to know that financial pressures will not be added to the problem. While we hope that you never have cause to claim for a living benefit, and that any death claim by you is in the very distant future, we want to ensure you have the right cover in place to protect you and your family. Please give us a call and we will happily discuss your financial protection needs.