Insurer Zurich, announces that it paid 97% of all protection claims in the first half of 2018. Payments of over £116.8m benefited over 1,500 retail customers with Life, Critical Illness and Income Protection policies.
Over 91% of critical illness claims were paid to customers amounting to over £33.1m with average lump sum payments of over £76k and the highest being £583k. This includes a small number of additional payments to customers where their policies enabled them to claim for less severe diagnosis of certain conditions and claims for children with critical illnesses.
Cancer remains the most common reason for claims accounting for 64%, followed by heart attack (12%), stroke (7%) and multiple sclerosis (3%). Breast cancer alone accounted for nearly 1 in 5 claims (24%), while prostate and bowel cancer together triggered 12% of claims.
The average age of claimants over the period was 47 years for women and 51 years for men.
Just 9% of claims were not paid because of either non-disclosure of important medical information before the plan started (2%) or where illnesses did not meet the definition on their policies (7%) – for example no permanent or ongoing symptoms following a diagnosis of a stroke.
The majority (95%) of new income protection claims were paid during H1 with benefits to all customers amounting to over £4.3m. The average monthly benefit payment was £1,475.00.
Many of these customers will have also benefitted from rehabilitation services available through their policy. This provides access to Zurich’s specialist in-house team of medical professionals including nurses, counsellors and physiotherapists.
Mental illness including anxiety, stress and depression accounted for nearly half of all new claims (43%), followed by cancer (20%), chronic fatigue syndrome (9%) and musculoskeletal conditions for 6%.
During the same period last year, a quarter of income protection claims (25%) were for mental illness and musculoskeletal disorders. This was followed by cancer for 17% and back problems for 11%.
The rise in mental health claims this year is a stark reminder of the importance of rehabilitation. In particular for longer term health conditions like depression where early intervention can have a huge impact on recovery rates and where treatment such as counselling can be difficult to access quickly via the NHS.
A minority of claims were not paid where customers were able to return to work before their policy’s payment period started.
99% of life claims were paid over the period with payments to beneficiaries totalling £79.4m. Average payments issued were for £40k with the highest pay out being £1.2m. A minority of claims were not paid because of non-disclosure of important medical information such as a history of smoking.
As part of its approach to supporting customers, Zurich offers customers with life policies advance payments to help with funeral and other costs such as inheritance tax liability or repayment of outstanding mortgages, loans or credit cards. To make things easier for customers at a difficult time, claims can be paid in full without grant of probate up to £75k to an individual or £150k where a solicitor is involved.
Peter Hamilton, Zurich’s Head of Market Management said, “We’re proud to have been publishing our claims figures for well over a decade and hope that they continue to challenge the commonly held view that insurers don’t pay out. As well as showing that the vast majority of claims are paid, they are a good way of highlighting the extra services and benefits on offer to support customers through different stages of their lives.
“We would urge customers to check their policies to make sure they’re benefitting from all of the support services available. This includes advance payments on life policies to help people following the loss of loved ones, right through to Zurich’s Support Service offering customers access to advice on everything from sourcing elder care through to managing debt plus access to professional counselling sessions.”