Work / life imbalance resulting in increase in stress related claims

The number of employees making income protection claims for psychiatric reasons has increased in recent years, according to data released by Friends First today. Income protection offers a replacement salary of up to 75% of your income if you are unable to work due to illness, injury, accident or disability. Orthopaedic (26%) and Psychiatric conditions (24%) are the top two illnesses followed, by cancer (18%) which required employees to make an Income Protection Claim in 2013, according to Friends First, the leading insurer in the income protection market. 

An analysis of the data for 2013 also demonstrates that there is a high level of claims being made by females, with 54% of total claims made by females in comparison to 46% of claims by males. 

Commenting on the findings, Karen Gallagher, Product Director, Friends First said; “What is evident from the most recent claims data is that while the level of claims made by customers for orthopaedic and cancer illnesses are still high - a growing number of clients are making claims for psychiatric conditions such as depression. The level of these claims has increased over the past two years, from 17% in 2012 to 24% in 2013. We have also seen a shift in Psychiatric claims from males to females with 64% of claims for Psychiatric conditions being made by females with only 36% of claims in this area coming from men.” 

Claims admitted in 2013: 
Condition Total Male Female 

Orthopaedic 26% 50% 50% 
Psychiatric 24% 36% 64% 
Cancer 18% 39% 61% 
Cardiac 6% 97% 3% 

Commenting on the findings, Dr Ciara Kelly added; “We know from TILDA data and anecdotally from everyday life that women tend to bear the primary responsibility for caring and rearing. Whether that is through raising children or indeed older dependent parents, women tend to carry primary responsibility in this area. Many women are also operating in the work force in full or part time roles – the combination of pressures on the home front and in the work place can have a debilitating impact on the mental health of some women, as this data demonstrates." 

“Women who lead stressful lives need to look after their physical and mental health. They should recognise when they are under undue pressure and seek help early if they're having difficulties. There is help available through their GP, through counselling, through support groups and the psychiatric and psychological services. Our mental health is so valuable and the majority of us will struggle with it at some point. Medication is not always the solution. Often good psychological supports and lifestyle change can make an enormous change for the better," she added. 

Friends First, the market leader in the income protection market, has paid over €145 million in income protection claims over the past five years and over €35 million in 2013. The average claim per annum is approx. €20,000 while 86% of claimants are aged between 40 and 65 years of age. The average claim lasts about five years and the current claims acceptance rate exceeds 90%. 

“Many more women are now the primary earners for their families, we would urge women to take stock of this to make sure that this income is adequately protected in the event of illness arising. People do not realise that unless they have Income Protection cover through an individual, group or company policy, if they have to leave the workforce for a prolonged period due to illness, they will have to rely on the social welfare system which will entitle them to a payment of only €9,776 a year. (€188 a week). Also, the self-employed are not entitled to any state support in the event that they are unable to work so they really need to take measures to protect their livelihood. Income protection offers a replacement salary of up to 75% of your income if you are unable to work due to illness, injury, accident or disability,” added Karen Gallagher.

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