Claim statistics reveal our biggest risks

Cancer, car accidents and retrenchment are major risks for younger people.

Cancer, car accidents and retrenchment are major risks for younger people.Both Momentum and Liberty recently 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 to last year. Furthermore, critical illnesses like cancer were not restricted to older clients but were also prevalent among younger clients.

We know as we get older we will be more susceptible to illness, but what these statistics are telling us is that younger people are more likely to claim for a severe illness or disability than death, with Momentum’s figures revealing that 43% of critical illness claims were by clients under the age of 50, with the youngest claimant aged just 21 years old. 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 show that breast cancer is by far the most common cancer for women and prostate cancer for men. But 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 4/10 are for breast cancer. For men, cardiovascular issues remain the number one reason for claims but according to Momentum’s figures, when it comes to men under the age of 30, vehicle accidents are the major cause of claims.

Increase in retrenchment claims

Liberty includes retrenchment cover as part of their offering and their figures show that retrenchment remains the highest claim for ‘Young Achievers’ (those in their 20s and 30s) ‒ this has increased from 12% in 2016 to 17% in 2017. However, 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 one’s income if one were unable to work for a period of time.

Momentum’s figures show 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 40-49 years old, which is about the time that a person is most likely to have family commitments like school fees and mortgages.

Stress-related claims on the rise

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 was even higher than road accident claims. This suggests that stress in the country’s economic hub is taking its toll and 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 other provinces.

Momentum experienced a significant spike in stroke-related claims with the number of disability claims as a result of strokes doubling compared to last year. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is one of the leading causes of strokes and again could indicate a higher stress levels in the population.

What we can learn from these statistics is that we need to take better care of our health and also better care on the roads. Take the time to do an annual preventative screening for breast or prostate cancer, monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and take a taxi if you’ve been drinking. And if you are under the age of 50, your cover should focus on critical illness and disability events.

This article first appeared in City Press.

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