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How fit are we? Heart stopping truths about health and lifestyle in the region

If UAE residents are making such good health and fitness choices, why are critical illness claims on the rise?

Heart attack and stroke are the topmost health risks across the community accounting for almost 39% of life benefits Accidents are the third most imminent threat in our region at almost 13% of life cover claims 90% of UAE residents consider themselves healthy with 42% of people rating themselves as extremely or very healthy

Research from Zurich Middle East

A new report from Zurich in the Middle East indicates that the number of life insurance and critical illness claims are on the rise with $111 million paid over the last three years while a survey of lifestyle and health trends in the region has revealed that majority of people in the UAE are making more wholesome lifestyle choices with 90% of people rating themselves as healthy. So, we need to ask ourselves the question – how fit are we?

Zurich in the Middle East has released its 2020 Customer Benefits Paid Report which offers some startling insights into the prevalent life and health risks in the region. Derived from Zurich’s 2017-2019 Claims Data in the region, this study shows:

  • Heart attack and stroke are the topmost health risks across the community accounting for almost 39% of life benefits paid and over 42% of critical illness claims. These also remain the most prevalent health risk for men.
  • Cancer poses the second most significant risk, responsible for 27% of life claims and close to half of all critical illness claims, and is the most pervasive risk among the female population – with 8 in 10 female critical illness claims arising from cancer
  • Accidents are the third most imminent threat in our region at almost 13% of life cover claims.
  • The average age of customers who claimed under Critical illness benefit is 49 years and the average life expectancy according to our claims data is 51 years of age.

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To better understand the lifestyle choices contributing to these alarming statistics, Zurich commissioned a YouGov survey of 1000 participants across the UAE. While encouraging, these insights also show that perhaps we are somewhat misguided about what constitutes a healthy lifestyle.

  • 90% of UAE residents consider themselves healthy with 42% of people rating themselves as extremely or very healthy and a further 48% of people consider themselves somewhat healthy.
  • Over 55% of people exercise more than once a week with 16% undertaking daily exercise.
  • 44% of people take steps to reduce stress and 72% take time for themselves at least one or twice a week.
  • However, while 59% of people claim to eat healthier meals, 55% confessed to eating junk food and 61% admitted that they eat out or get takeaway more than once to twice a week.
  • In addition, 35% of people haven’t been for a general checkup in over 1 year and a staggering 12% of people have never had a general checkup.
  • Almost half of the survey respondents reported driving around in a rush once a month or more with 34% driving recklessly more frequently than once or twice a week.

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“The greatest barrier to taking out life insurance is lack of awareness around life and health risks. Understandably, most people avoid thinking about their own passing or the chances of becoming a victim of critical illness,” says Walter Jopp, CEO of Zurich in the Middle East. “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 $111 million in claims. This is an increase of 9% from the previous period.”

Many people who have life insurance, tend to overlook protecting themselves against critical illness. Stroke, heart attack, cancer, diabetes, among other debilitating conditions, are prevalent in the region. These illnesses are also living conditions, where the insured can benefit in their lifetime to cover the cost recovery and manage the loss of income.

Furthermore, insufficient cover continues to be an issue. Zurich reports that 93% of critical illness claimants were insured for $250,000 or less. The climbing costs of treatment and associated expenses, together with supporting the family and paying bills without an income for an extended period of time means that the insured amount may fall short of what is needed.

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“I am proud to say that we have been protecting our customers in the Middle East for over 30 years, delivering on our promise of being there when customers need us most”, said Jopp, “We paid claims even when our customers moved across the globe, in over 53 countries worldwide and 9 of 10 claims were paid out within 3 days of receiving the required documents.  Zurich in the Middle East and the insurance industry as a whole has an important job of building awareness about the importance of life insurance. It is for this reason, we produced our Customer Benefits Paid report – to help our community understand the major lifestyle and health concerns that affect us, and prepare them for what may come.”

Learn more about the Customer Benefits Paid Report at www.zurich.ae/health-risks.