Claims – the whole purpose of insurance

Sometimes when it comes to life assurance and cover for living benefits within specified illness and income protection policies, you can get a little lost in the marketing messages of the different features and benefits that are available in the market. While these are of course important in helping you (with our guidance) choose your preferred policy, it’s really important to never lose sight of the real reason for taking out insurance, and that comes back to one single key aspect – that the insurer will pay out to you or your loved ones in your time of need.

So, with this central thought in mind, I took a look at the claims statistics of the largest insurer in the market, Irish Life. This is not a suggestion that Irish Life is (or is not) the best insurer in the market, but I believe that their claims statistics give us a sense of the trends in the market as a whole. Of course, when it comes to finding the optimal policy for you, I always consider the products of all the insurers in the market.

Here are some of the key insights we discovered with respect to 2023.

Across all of Irish Life, they paid out over €7 million on average every week in 2023, this adding up to an eye watering €376.3 million paid out in claims over the full year.

I then dug a little deeper into the claims data from their Retail division, which includes all the claims from the policies that are taken out by individual clients. I noted first of all that 98.6% of all death claims were paid – this is a great endorsement of the value of taking out life assurance, and the confidence it gives that bereaved people are looked after financially in their hour of greatest need.

I also saw that the volume of Death Claims increased by 14% compared to the previous year and that cancer continues to be the gravest threat, with over 1 in 3 Death Claims due to cancer. There were also tragically 8 death claims as a result of road traffic accidents, a sad reflection of the stubbornly high road traffic accident statistics in Ireland in recent years.

However, death claims are only one part of the claims picture. In 2023, two out of every three claims paid by Irish Life were for living benefits – specified illness cover and income protection. Within this segment of the claims, I observed several noteworthy insights,

  • 64% of Specified Illness claims in 2023 were due to malignant cancer – again the greatest threat to our health. Malignant prostate cancer is the greatest threat among males, with malignant breast cancer the greatest threat among females.
  • It was also interesting to note that of the heart attack claims, 80% of these were in men, who also accounted for almost three quarters of stroke claims.
  • The volume of Income Protection claims increased by 15% in 2023, with Mental Health the biggest cause of claims once again.

But back to the theme of this review of the claims data, and that is the confidence and comfort that you can take from having the cover in place for when you need it most. I’ll leave the last word with one of Irish Life’s customers, who made a claim in 2023 under their Specified Illness policy,

“It was just the most seamless process I think I’ve ever claimed for anything. Within 6 weeks, there was money in the account. It wasn’t going to make me better, but it was just something to give you the peace of mind and the security.”

Now that is what insurance is all about. The peace of mind that money will not be a central worry at the time of dealing with a death or major illness.

When I sit down with you to examine your protection requirements, of course I spend a lot of time helping you to select the right insurer and the best policy for you. The differences between various policies can make a material difference. But at the end of the day, the most important feature is that if needed, your claim will be paid quickly and without fuss in your hour of need.


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