Irish Life, the leading provider of income protection benefits in Ireland, paid out over €53 million to people who were unable to work due to illnesses or injuries during 2015. An analysis of Irish Life’s claims data provides a valuable insight into the health of the working population, and includes a breakdown of the illnesses and conditions that led to over 3,000 Income Protection claims being paid in 2015.
The data highlighted that mental health problems were the biggest single cause of claims paid in 2015, accounting for just under a fifth (19%) of all claims. Others included
- Back pain/musculoskeletal complaints and cancer – 14%
- Injuries – 9%
- Nervous system complaints – 4%
- Cardiac conditions – 4%
There was a significant variation between Income Protection claims for men and women. In 2015, the average age of a male claimant was 49 years, compared to an average age of 45 for females. (This is reflected in the largest age group of claimants, which was 40-49 years for both males and females).
Income Protection benefits can range from relatively small amounts to in excess of €100,000 per annum and the average annual Income Protection benefit amount is €19,380.00.
A comparison of claims made during the period 2005-2009 with the more recent period of 2010-2015 shows an overall reduction in mental health problem claims, from 22% to 19%; while there has also been a significant decrease in cancer claims from 19% to 14%.
The decreasing number of cancer claims over the years is obviously good news. Due to improvements in early detection and treatment, more people with a cancer diagnosis are thankfully surviving this illness, benefiting from income protection, and in a lot of cases recovering to be able to return to work, typically within 18 to 24 months.
However, the comparison also highlights that claims by males for mental health problems have seen an increase from 18% in 2005-2009 to 21% in 2010-2015. In contrast, female claims for mental health problems dropped significantly from 25% to 18% in the same period.
As well as paying Income Protection benefits for people unable to work due to illnesses or injuries, there are a number of other services and benefits which Irish Life provide to help claimants get back to work;
- Dedicated team of Health Claims Advisors who meet with people to discuss their claim.
- Rehabilitation programmes available for suitable claimants. These programmes are fully funded by Irish Life and include Physiotherapy, Mental Health, Cancer, and Chronic Fatigue/Fibromyalgia.
- Partial payments may be arranged in the event that a person is returning to work over a phased period of time, or unable to return to work full-time.
- If returning to work is not successful, and a person has to cease work again due to the same condition within six months, Irish Life will work with the individual so that no new waiting period is required.
David Harney, Managing Director Irish Life Corporate Business, said: “With more than 200,000 people insured for Income Protection, Irish Life understands the nature of the conditions that result in people being unable to work. Thankfully most ill or injured employees regain their ability to return to work and, working with employers, we provide the support and services to make this happen. Income Protection is a really important product for those unable to return to work, providing some financial security at a difficult time.”