We live a privileged life here in the Middle East, and it’s easy to forget that sometimes, this very life can take an unexpected turn. Our tendency to avoid thinking about unforeseen circumstances often leaves us vulnerable and exceedingly under prepared. In this Zurich IQ article, Walter Jopp discusses the health risks revealed by our recently released Customer Benefits Paid Report 2019 and why the time to take up life insurance is now.
“I am healthy and fit. Disease affects others who are much older than I am. It won’t happen to me.”
Understandably, most people avoid thinking about their own passing or the chances of becoming a victim of critical illness. It is a difficult thing to grasp and harder still to carefully consider and plan for. We have built up stereotypes about what kind of person contracts an illness like cancer or develops heart disease, and even the kind of person who loses their life. We often tell ourselves, “This person is over 65 and leads an unhealthy lifestyle. This person is someone else. It’s not me”.
The reality, however, is quite different. According to our 2019 Customer Benefits Paid Report, people here in the Middle East have an average life expectancy of 50 and the median age for critical illness is 48. We have paid just over USD 100 million to residents in the last three years, an increase of 50% from the period before, and our youngest critical illness claimant is only 28 years old. This paints a picture that is far removed from the elderly person that we often imagine as a life or critical illness claimant.
Cancer and heart disease continue to be the top two health concerns in the Middle East, affecting 85% of life insureds. Cancer is the primary cause of critical illness benefits paid to women (81%) while heart disease is the primary cause of critical illness claims from men (56%). Accidents are among the primary causes of death among men in the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar (16%).
Another key concern for residents is under insurance. The majority of critical illness cover taken out is for USD 200,000 or below. Given the treatment for illnesses like cancer costs USD 100,000 on average, there is a potential gap between what the insured needs for income protection post treatment and during recovery, and the amount they are covered for.
These startling findings are the here and now, contained in our recently released Customer Benefits Paid Report 2019. Every year we publish a report of major health risks in the region and are still the only insurer to do so. I am incredibly proud to provide our local community with this much needed information, so that together we can better understand the major health concerns that affect us, and be prepared for what may come.
While the reality can seem gloomy, it is important to understand that these daunting statistics are an important step in protecting your financial future. The old adage knowledge is power has never been more true. Once you understand the risks, you can plan for them. This in itself is a very empowering thought.
Fitness, exercise and good nutrition are proactive steps you can take today to reduce the impact of disease, or in some cases, prevent illness altogether. You can benefit from our mind and body customer events and watch our well being industry experts as they provide tips on energy, mindfulness and nutrition.
Speaking to your Financial Professional about life insurance and critical illness cover is another critical step to help you be better prepared for life’s ups and downs. However, taking out life insurance can feel uneasy – it’s like buying a promise. You purchase benefits that your insurer will give you at a later point in time, when it’s needed. Doing this requires trust in your provider.
I am proud to say that we have been protecting our customers in the Middle East for over 30 years and they trust us to make good on our promise. Our claims record over the last three years is 93% for life benefits and 94% for critical illness claims. In addition, our customers can rely on us to pay their claim even once they have repatriated home or moved to another country –we have paid claims in over 35 countries worldwide.
Hear from Chyira, a Zurich Middle East customer
Speaking to our customers about their experiences with critical illness is both humbling and inspiring. These are stories that need to be told and heard. Chyira, was diagnosed with cancer - watch as she tells her story as a wife, mother, cancer survivor and now a thriver.
Watch more of our customers tell their story.
Our Customer Benefits Paid Report is a must read for all people residing in the Middle East. Consider the health risks, talk to your financial professional and empower yourself to be Ready For Life.
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