Dubai – MENA Herald: Zurich’s life business in the Middle East (Zurich) has released claims statistics for the period January 2013 to December 2015, showing it paid AED 246 million (USD 67 million) in critical illness and life cover claims, up 42.5% from the previous period, January 2012 to December 2014.
98% of life cover claims were paid during the period, for a total of AED 125 million (USD 34 million) and critical illness claims were paid out in 87% of cases for a total of AED 121 million (USD 33 million).
Zurich’s data shows its claims experience corresponds strongly with the region’s leading causes of premature death, critical illness and disability. Zurich critical illness claims were made due to cancer in 49% of all cases and on heart diseases in 48% of all cases. Leading causes of death for life insurance claims were diseases such as cancer (32%) and heart diseases (43%). The average age of Zurich’s life insurance claimants is 51 and critical illness claimants is 47; often obesity is associated with many of these claims. A study released by Zurich last year showed that 2/3 of all UAE residents are overweight or obese which can lead to a significantly increased risk of diseases such as heart diseases and diabetes.
Another worryingly result of the claims review is the number of deaths caused by road accidents. Despite positive interventions to increase road safety across the Middle East, 8% of life cover claims are based on this cause of death.
Zurich recently added free children critical illness benefit to their whole of life policy and under this benefit the youngest claimant Zurich paid out was 4 years old.
Chris Bagnall, Chief Underwriter for Zurich International Life Limited in the Middle East and Asia, said Zurich has a strong track record when it matters the most. “We are proud of our payout rate of 98% for death and 87% for critical illness,” he said. “The 13% figure represents the number of claims found not to meet the critical illness definition or non-disclosure of serious medical history. An example would be a critical illness claim for an ear ache or failure to disclose a previous condition such as diabetes. This highlights the need for education of the market as well as distributors and customers. Zurich is leading this with customer education seminars, distributor training and simplified marketing material.”
“The insights offered in our claims data, supported by regional trends, show some of the key causes of death and critical illness in the region, and highlight the need for protection and the valuable role insurance can play in the financial protection of our customer’s families and businesses.”
Research by Zurich (conducted in 2014) showed that almost two thirds (64%) of UAE residents do not have a life insurance policy that would protect their family’s financial future in the event of death of the primary salary earner. The survey also found that only 20% of UAE residents have critical illness insurance.
Whilst Zurich provides financial protection for families and businesses in the time of the need, a review of the amount of cover selected by Zurich customers, showed the reality that underinsurance by significant amounts is still a pressing issue.
Zurich believes in transparency and trust and is proud to be one of the only providers that publishes claims statistics specific for the Middle East. To be closer to its customers, Zurich has committed to further strengthen its regional footprint by establishing a center of excellence for its Life claims in the Middle East.
Zurich’s extensive protection suite is available through a large number of banks and financial advisory companies.