Age of critical illness claimants falling

Amanda Jarvis

March 7, 2003

The average age of customers when they claim is now 42, down from age 44 in June 2002.

The figures also reveal that cancer tops the list of causes of claim at 55% of all claims, followed by heart attack (13%), stroke (5%), multiple sclerosis (4%) and heart surgery (4%).

The Top 5 Critical Illnesses Claimed For
The most common cause of illness claimed by men and women are similar, but the incidence rates differ greatly. The table below shows the percentage of claims made for each illness:
Male claims Female claims
Cancer 42% Cancer (of which half are for breast cancer) 73%
Heart Attack 22% Multiple Sclerosis 6%
Stroke 6% Stroke 3%
Heart Surgery 6% Benign Brain Tumour 2%
Total Permanent Disability 3% Heart Attack 2%

Women are younger than men when they make a claim
It’s a well-known fact that life expectancy for a man is lower than it is for a woman. However, Scottish Provident’s claims history reveals that the extra years enjoyed by females might not always see them in good health – women on average claim on their critical illness policies at the age of 41– two years younger than men at 43.

But that gap is closing, with the age at which men make a critical illness claim slipping to age 43 from 44 since Scottish Provident last published its claims history in June 2002.

Nick Kirwan, head of product development and marketing at Scottish Provident said:
“One of the major difficulties we face when trying to get across the importance of critical illness insurance, is that a lot of people do not trust insurance companies to pay out when they make a claim. By sharing our claims history, we are enabling intermediaries to reassure their clients that this is not the case. The whole point of critical illness insurance is to ensure that people know if the worst should happen they wouldn’t have any financial worries. By showing them the number of claims which are paid, we can prove that this is the case.

Child cover claims are more common than claims for TPD
It may come as a surprise that child cover is now the sixth most common cause of claim, accounting for more claims (76) than total permanent disability (67), behind heart attack (315), stroke (121), multiple sclerosis (99) and coronary artery by-pass surgery (94). The incidence rates for most illnesses vary by age and children tend to get different illnesses than adults. The most common cause of claim for children is leukaemia, covered under the cancer definition, which accounts for around 90% of all children's claims .

Child cover – which pays a lump sum when a child is diagnosed with a critical illness – has not been available for as long as other types of critical illness cover. As a result, it is likely that it will account for even more claims over the next couple of years, once more families realise the importance of this type of cover.

Nick Kirwan again:
“Intuitively, we might imagine that children are unlikely to get a critical illness and that child cover isn't really essential. However, for people with a family, or even thinking of starting a family in the future, nothing could be further from the truth. Claims for child cover are more common than many people might imagine.

“There is no denying that broaching the subject of children’s critical illness might be difficult. It is hard enough trying to get adults to face up to the possibility of contracting a serious illness themselves, never mind the thought of their children being critically ill. However, as these figures show, it is essential that they do so, because if the worst does happen then the last thing parents will need is financial worries too.

Over £169m has been paid out on critical illness claims since the launch of the benefit in 1991 to the end of 2002. The figures also reveal that the average critical illness payout is increasing – up to £70,425 from £66,016 in June 2002.

Key Trends:
Cancer, heart attack and stroke have always been the ‘big three’ main illnesses claimed for. Last year saw multiple sclerosis (MS) debut to make this the ‘big four’. MS is now the second most common reason for claims in women, standing at double the number of stroke claims.
£96,500,694 has been paid out in cancer claims alone since the launch of critical illness cover in 1991.
Cancer claims account for 55% of all the claims made and the average age at claim is just 41.
The most common cancer claimed for by women is breast cancer, with an average age at claim of just 41. These figures reflect national statistics, which show that breast cancer accounts for nearly 30 per cent of all new female cancers in the UK .
The most common cancer claimed for by men is testicular cancer, with an average age at claim of just 39. These figures reflect national statistics, which show that in young men aged 20-39, testicular cancer is the most frequently occurring cancer .

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