The vast majority of the population in the Middle East considers themselves to be healthy, but the sum paid out for life insurance and critical illness claims rose sharply between 2017 and 2019.
According to Zurich Middle East’s Customer Benefit Paid report, around $111m (£86.5m, €100.6m) was handed out over the period.
The most significant risks were heart attack and stroke, which made up 39% of life benefits and 42% of critical illness claims, and were most prevalent among men.
The second spot was taken by cancer with 27% of pay-outs – women are most at risk with eight in 10 claims related to tumours.
This was then followed by accidents, which made up almost 13% of life claims.
Life expectancy is also a big issue, considering that Zurich discovered the average age for critical illness claimants was 49, while average life expectancy was set at 51 years of age.
The insurer found an alarming landscape when it comes to perceptions about lifestyle.
Zurich commissioned a YouGov poll of 1,000 participants in the UAE, revealling that 90% consider themselves to be healthy – 42% claim to be either extremely or very healthy, while 48% believe they are somewhat healthy.
Over 55% of those surveyed exercise more than once a week, and 16% workout daily.
Despite 59% saying they eat healthier meals, 55% confessed to eating junk food and 61% admitted they eat out or get takeaway more than twice a week.
There has also been negligence in following up on their health, as 35% of respondents have not had a general check-up in over a year, and 12% revealed they never got one.
Take the right precautions
“Advisers understand that the greatest barrier to taking out life insurance is lack of awareness around life and health risks,” said Walter Jopp, chief executive of Zurich Middle East.
“Understandably, most people avoid thinking about their own passing or the chances of becoming a victim of critical illness.
“The lifestyle survey highlights our tendency to adopt the ‘it won’t happen to me’ mentality. The reality is that over the past three years, Zurich in the Middle East has paid out $111m in claims.
“This is an increase of 9% from the previous period. This report is designed to arm advisers with the information they need to deliver that all important message about the necessity of life insurance.”
But it’s not just about awareness.
The insurer found that 93% of claims for critical illness were covered for $250,000 or less; which, in many cases, might not be enough to cover medical expenses and support the claimant’s family.