Insurance stats reveal SA plagued by stress, illness

This month, both Momentum and Liberty released their claim statistics – revealing some concerning trends, especially relating to cancer and claims among younger clients.

Momentum statistics show that claims for cancer-related events increased by 8%, compared with last year.

Drilling deeper reveals that critical illnesses such as cancer are not restricted to older clients, but are prevalent among younger clients.

We know that as we get older we will be more susceptible to illness, but what these statistics tell us is that younger people are more likely to claim for a severe illness or disability than death.

Momentum’s figures revealed that 43% of critical illness claims were by clients under the age of 50, with the youngest claimant aged just 21.

Individuals between the ages of 30 and 39 accounted for 14% of all critical illness claims.

Cancer remains the most prevalent cause of critical illness claims.

Both Liberty and Momentum statistics show that breast cancer is by far the most prevalent cancer for women, and prostate cancer for men. However, women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with cancer.

Liberty’s statistics show that cancer claims among women remain high, accounting for 32% of all claims, of which nearly four out of 10 are for breast cancer.

Cardiovascular disease remains the number one reason for claims among men, but according to Momentum’s figures, vehicle accidents are the major cause of claims for men under the age of 30.

Liberty includes retrenchment cover as part of its offering, and its figures show retrenchment remains the highest claim for Young Achievers – people aged 20 to 30.

This figure increased from 12% in 2016 to 17% last year. For women in this category, cancer claims now equal those made for retrenchment, with both accounting for 19% of claims.

In fact, for women, cancer and retrenchment are both more significant than for young men, who claimed 15% for retrenchment and 13% for cancer. Young women are, however, less likely to claim for motor vehicle accidents or cardiovascular conditions.

The statistics also highlight the importance of disability cover for younger people who are self-employed, especially for temporary disability, which could be event-driven – such an accident or time off work to recover from an illness.

Temporary disability income would cover their income if they were unable to work for a period of time.

Momentum’s figures show that nearly 70% of disability income payments were for individuals under the age of 50 and, while this may be skewed by the fact that disability income policies usually terminate when you retire, the highest age group for disability income was between the ages of 40 and 49 – which is about the time that a person is most likely to have family commitments such as school fees and mortgages.

Another concerning trend is the increase in stress-related claims such as suicide and strokes.

According to Liberty, despite the fact that Gauteng has the highest number of claims for motor accidents, the number of suicide claims in this province were higher than road accident claims.

This suggests that stress levels in the country’s economic hub are taking their toll on the population.

It could also be an explanation for the higher than average brain cancer claims. In Gauteng, the percentage claimed for brain cancer was almost four times higher than in other provinces.

Momentum experienced a significant spike in stroke-related claims, with the number of disability claims as a result of strokes doubling, compared with last year.

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is one of the leading causes of strokes and again could indicate increased levels of stress in the population.

What we can learn from these statistics is that we need to take better care of our health and be more vigilant on the roads.

Take time to do an annual preventative screening for breast or prostate cancer, monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and take an Uber if you have been drinking.

If you are under the age of 50, your cover should focus on critical illness and disability events.

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