Zurich: Heart attacks, stroke, cancer still larger risks
Heart attacks, strokes and cancer were larger risks in terms of claims figures, according to Zurich International Life in the Middle East.
Citing figures from the 2021 Customer Benefits Paid Report, Zurich has stated that critical illness and life insurance claims were almost equal in the total amount paid in benefits. This demonstrates that while people are actually living longer, more and more people are contracting critical illnesses and dealing with the associated financial impact of managing chronic conditions.
“At Zurich, we are committed to helping provide financial security and assurance to families – whatever the circumstances. We are proud to have paid 98.1 per cent of life insurance claim payments, amounting to a total of USD136 million in customer benefits between January 2018 and December 2020 for the Middle East region. That’s a 23 percent increase year-on-year. More people are living longer and more people are claiming for heart attack, stroke, cancer, which are increasingly becoming common,” said Walter Jopp, CEO, Zurich International Life in the Middle East. Heart attacks and strokes were attributed to 43 per cent of the total claims, while cancer took 27 per cent of claims.
Representatives of the insurer agreed that increased awareness among customers and digitalisation of insurers were positive outcomes of the pandemic. “It all starts with awareness. People are aware of the critical risks that they are facing. We’re in a situation where people understand the mortality and morbidity risks greater than any generation before. Our customers want to interact differently. People don’t want to pull in paper anymore, they don’t want long processes that take time out of their lives. The importance of digitalisation and great customer experience has been something that our customers have been demanding more from us. The changes we have seen during the pandemic and the overall health awareness is a shift and as an insurer, we need to be able to adapt,” said Simon Price, head of Market Management, Zurich in the Middle East.
According to a YouGov survey commissioned by Zurich, only 22 per cent of respondents felt financially prepared for unfortunate family events. Interestingly, more male respondents (65.56 per cent) felt somewhat/well prepared compared to 56.07 per cent of women who felt the same.
Across all age categories, more than half of respondents said that due to Covid-19, they were somewhat likely or extremely likely to consider purchasing life or critical illness cover, with more than 63.3 per cent of respondents aged 18-34 saying they purchased life insurance since the start of the global crisis.
People in the Middle East are also paying increased attention to the benefits of a healthier lifestyle, with many taking up exercise, yoga and other physical and mental wellbeing activities in a bid to reduce or mitigate the risks of developing long-term, serious illness.
Cancer led the list of the gravest critical illness risks followed by heart attacks, various chronic conditions and strokes. A split by gender reveals that heart attacks were the lead critical illness insurance claim for males (53 per cent), while only five per cent of females claimed for the same condition. Cancer led the female benefit claims list (85 per cent), with the illness accounting for only 31 per cent of benefit claims for males.
Another trend to consider is that while there has been an increase in the number of people with pre-existing conditions seeking the financial security of insurance protection, Zurich is still accepting 99 per cent of applications for cover.