COVID-19, while a relatively new illness, was responsible for 5% of all life insurance claims, reveals Zurich International Life in the Middle East in a report. It is the fourth highest cause of death in the region.
Zurich's “2021 Customer Benefits Paid Report” states that in terms of life claims, heart attacks and strokes were the biggest risk (43%), followed by cancer (27%), and accidents (10%).
As for critical illness claims, cancer led the list 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%), while only 5% of females claimed for the same condition. Cancer led the female benefit claims list (85%), with the illness accounting for only 31% of benefit claims for males.
The report says that half of Zurich's total customer benefits paid out were life cover claims, while the other half were living benefits such as critical illness claims. 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.
The average age of customers under life benefits claims is 52 years and critical illness benefits is 49 years.
People are giving more consideration to insurance cover, especially since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, says the report.
According to a YouGov survey commissioned by Zurich, only 22% of respondents felt financially prepared for unfortunate family events. Interestingly, more male respondents (65.56%) felt somewhat/well prepared compared to 56.07% 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% 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.
Given the role of females as key decision-makers when it comes to household finances, it is noteworthy that women tended to find life insurance too expensive to purchase compared to men. Of those surveyed, 42.8% of women said they don’t have insurance because it is too expensive, compared to 34% of men who lacked cover for the same reason.
Mr Walter Jopp, CEO of Zurich in the Middle East, said, “Our survey shows that 37% of respondents don’t have life or critical illness cover because they deem it too expensive, however, people might be surprised to learn we have a range of flexible and affordable cover options.”
He added, “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% of life insurance claim payments, amounting to a total of $136m in customer benefits between January 2018 and December 2020.” COVID-19 related claims paid amounted to $3.9m.