The average age the company’s customers have claimed benefits for critical illness is 48 years old, while for life claimants the average age was 50.
“Our role at Zurich is to make people in the region aware of these facts,” said Walter Jopp, chief executive of Zurich Middle East.
Differences between the genders
Cancer and heart attacks are the top health risks for people in the Middle East, the report also found.
Between January 2016 and December 2018, 47% of life and critical illness claimants were paid benefits for cancer and 38% for heart attacks.
Women were far more likely to claim for cancer benefits (81%), while heart attacks are the main trigger for men (56%).
On the other hand, the most frequent cause of death among men (12%) in the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar is road accidents.
While many may not buy life insurance products, “company-provided cover is an important employee benefit in the region”, Jopp told International Adviser.
‘Protection is paramount’
“As the region remains underpenetrated, it is key for insurance providers to take ownership to raise attention and build consideration about the prevalent health risks in the region,” he said.
“Financial protection is paramount, particularly in a region like the Middle East with a significant proportion of working families with dependants.
“The financial impact must be considered if the key income earners are unable to work.”
Jopp told IA: “The onus is not just on insurers to raise awareness on the importance of having adequate financial protection in place, but we play a pivotal role.
“Zurich continues to be the only life insurance provider in the Middle East to issue yearly claims statistics specific to the region.”
Coverage not high enough
Over the past three years, the firm has payed out $102m (£78m, €90m) in customer benefits, a 27.5% increase from the previous period.
Zurich said that, while health risks are increasing in the region, many people are underinsured.
According to its client database, 88% of customers who have suffered a critical illness had coverage of $200,000 or less.
This means that, in many cases, people are not going to be able to cover full medical expenses, let alone family income replacements and post-operative care.
Source: Zurich Middle East