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  • Writer's pictureThe Woodgate Team

Critical Illness Data Reveals the Surprising Reality of Claims

It's not for nothing that one of the first things we look at when building a client's Financial Plan is what could go wrong. Surprising data revealed by Zurich, a leading provider of life and critical illness insurance policies, shows why this is so important.

Young man sits in doctor's office looking worried
Serious illness isn't just for the elderly

Critical illness insurance typically provides a lump sum payment to policyholders on diagnosis of one of a wide range of illnesses. It's often used in conjunction with a mortgage to ensure that the loan can be repaid if the borrower suffers a serious condition, and for family protection to make sure that there is money available should the worst happen. We've helped numerous clients to claim on policies we've arranged for them over the years, and the money paid out is always a huge relief to the policyholder at a difficult and scary time.

It's often assumed that if heart attack, cancer and stroke is going to happen to someone, it will be in later life and that the risks at younger ages are much less serious. Statistics released by Zurich prove that this belief is a fallacy.

Jude Reynolds, a business development manager at Zurich Intermediary, explained more in a recent adviser newsletter. We were astounded to learn from him that the average age of Zurich claimants in relation to open heart surgery was only 35. For motor neurone disease the age was 45, and for stroke it was 50.

The biggest area of claims was for cancer, and here again the figures are, to say the least, surprising. Jude writes; "It is a well-known statistic that one in two of us will get cancer during our lives. Our first-half claims figures show that the average age of claimants for various cancers was typically in the late 30s, 40s and 50. Testicular cancer was 38, leukaemia was 39, ovarian and cervical cancer were both 44, lymphoma was 45, breast cancer and melanoma were 47, renal cancer was 50, bowel cancer 52, lung cancer 57 and prostate cancer 58.

It makes sobering reading but the good news is that many cancers are now survivable. Nevertheless, the impact on your life – your ability to work and look after your family, either financially or in terms of caregiving – remains immense. The financial strain at a difficult time cannot be underestimated.

Claimants for heart conditions are typically even younger than cancer patients. The average claimant age for cardiomyopathy (a general term for diseases of the heart muscle) during the first six months of this year was only 31. For a heart valve replacement it was 50, a heart attack it was 52, angioplasty (surgery to open a blocked or narrowed artery around the heart) it was 56 and coronary bypass surgery it was 58.

Those diagnosed with degenerative conditions were also a lot younger than you might expect – 44 for multiple sclerosis, 56 for Parkinson’s and 61 for Alzheimer’s.

Meanwhile, the average age of claimants suffering from liver problems is again low too – 36 for liver resection and 43 for liver failure. This is indicative of increases in alcohol consumption. It promises to be the next big problem for our NHS.

Brain conditions are also frighteningly common in younger people. Claimants for a brain abscess or cerebral aneurysm had an average age of 36. For encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) it was 37 and traumatic head injury it was 39.

A 45-year-old client was out cycling with his son during lockdown, hit by a car and is now paralysed. That tallies with the average age for paralysis at 44."

These figures make fascinating reading for anyone who is planning their financial future, and contemplating the risks that could knock them off course. If you have significant liabilities in the form of mortgages and loans, if you are running a business or enterprise, or if you are the major breadwinner in your family, you can't ignore the possibility that ill health could strike at any time, and according to these figures, much earlier than you might have anticipated.

The cost of insurance cover is tiny compared to the potential loss of income you would suffer in the event of suffering one of these illnesses. If you would like to know more about this invaluable form of protection, contact us now and we'll be pleased to give you the lowdown.

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