As you may know, this week is Men’s Health Week, and this year’s focus is men’s health by numbers. With this in mind I’ve been looking at last year’s claims statistics for LV= across income protection (IP), critical illness (CI) and life insurance, and in particular looking at trends in claims involving men.
I’ve also drawn out some of our experiences of dealing and talking with male clients, who have been recommended by advisers to apply for cover with us.
Some of the statistics will reinforce what you probably already know – in some cases in quite stark terms – and others may surprise you.
We should of course remember that behind each of these statistics is a real person or a family with a unique story.
Our statistics tell us that men are disproportionately more likely than women to claim on their IP or CI policies as a result of heart disease.
Heart attack claims see the biggest disparity between men and women – with heart attacks accounting for 20% of male CI claims compared with only 0.1% of female claims.
With a recent report warning of an increase in heart disease in the UK for the first time in 50 years, it’s never been more important for men in particular to know their vital numbers. For example, do your male clients know their blood pressure or BMI? And do you (or they) know what the numbers might mean for their risk of heart disease?
The report also tells us that more than 14 million adults in the UK have high blood pressure but nearly 5 million don’t know it because they haven’t been diagnosed.
Customer case study: Keith is aged 41, self-employed, and has income protection. In 2018 he suffered a heart attack while cycling.
His policy paid him £1,800 per month, but perhaps more importantly we learnt he’d been suffering with work-related stress so arranged for him to speak to our rehabilitation partners, and together they agreed that psychological therapy would help.
Keith was able to open up to the therapist about his mental health and the concerns he has about suffering another heart attack.After a 2½ month absence he has returned to work part time and he continues to benefit from a partial claim payment and the help and support provided as part of his cover.
Looking at applications for IP we see that women are far more likely to disclose a history of mental health issues than men – of all applications made for IP by men, 10.5% include a disclosure of a history of mental health issues, while for women this figure is 20.3%.
However, the vast majority of the IP claims we pay in relation to mental health issues (64.9%) are made to men.
So if we’re going to make sure that people are getting the correct cover it’s our job to make it easier for people to disclose details of their mental health.
We have trained staff who can talk with customers about their mental health, something that might not always be easy for advisers to broach.
We also have a role to play in helping people back to work if they need to make a claim against their policy.
Customer case study: David is a 46 year old teacher who was diagnosed with anxiety and depression during 2018 and was unable to work. Before David was eligible to claim on his policy he notified us of his situation and we began to help.
We have kept in touch with David, and as well as paying his income protection claim we helped in organising some voluntary work as part of a career assistance and rehabilitation plan. He has since returned to work full-time in a different role.
It would be remiss to talk about men’s health and avoid talking about male suicide, one of the biggest killers of men under the age of 50.
Our statistics are sobering. In 2018 we paid 20 claims for life insurance where the cause of death was suicide. Of those claims, 17 were men and seven of them were in their 40s.
And to be clear, the gender split for our life insurance policyholders is almost 50/50.
Anecdotal evidence from our telephone support teams backs up what the experts tell us – men are far less comfortable talking about their mental health and seeking support.
We need to make sure that our policyholders know that support is available to them, usually without making a claim – our protection cover comes with a number of added benefits including immediate access to doctors and psychotherapists through our Doctor Services smartphone app which allows the policyholder to remain anonymous if they choose to.
Even though this is only a small snapshot of the more than 7,400 protection claims paid by LV= in 2018, the statistics are clear. Some health issues are heavily skewed towards men, and as providers of protection cover we need to understand this when designing products and helping customers through the underwriting and claims process.