Claims – the whole purpose of insurance

the whole purpose of insurance

Sometimes when it comes to life assurance and cover for living benefits within specified illness and income protection policies, you can get a little lost in the marketing messages of the different features and benefits that are available in the market. While these are of course important in helping you (with our guidance) choose your preferred policy, it’s really important to never lose sight of the real reason for taking out insurance, and that comes back to one single key aspect – that the insurer will pay out to you or your loved ones in your time of need.

So, with this central thought in mind, we took a look at the claims statistics of the largest insurer in the market, Irish Life. This is not a suggestion that Irish Life is (or is not) the best insurer in the market, but we believe that their claims statistics give us a sense of the trends in the market as a whole. Of course, when it comes to finding the optimal policy for you, we always consider the products of all the insurers in the market.

Here are some of the key insights we discovered with respect to 2023.

Across all of Irish Life, they paid out over €7 million on average every week in 2023, this adding up to an eye watering €376.3 million paid out in claims over the full year.

We then dug a little deeper into the claims data from their Retail division, which includes all the claims from the policies that are taken out by individual clients. We noted first of all that 98.6% of all death claims were paid – this is a great endorsement of the value of taking out life assurance, and the confidence it gives that bereaved people are looked after financially in their hour of greatest need.

We also saw that the volume of Death Claims increased by 14% compared to the previous year and that cancer continues to be the gravest threat, with over 1 in 3 Death Claims due to cancer. There were also tragically 8 death claims as a result of road traffic accidents, a sad reflection of the stubbornly high road traffic accident statistics in Ireland in recent years.

However, death claims are only one part of the claims picture. In 2023, two out of every three claims paid by Irish Life were for living benefits – specified illness cover and income protection. Within this segment of the claims, we observed several noteworthy insights,

  • 64% of Specified Illness claims in 2023 were due to malignant cancer – again the greatest threat to our health. Malignant prostate cancer is the greatest threat among males, with malignant breast cancer the greatest threat among females.
  • It was also interesting to note that of the heart attack claims, 80% of these were in men, who also accounted for almost three quarters of stroke claims.
  • The volume of Income Protection claims increased by 15% in 2023, with Mental Health the biggest cause of claims once again.

But back to the theme of this review of the claims data, and that is the confidence and comfort that you can take from having the cover in place for when you need it most. We’ll leave the last word with one of Irish Life’s customers, who made a claim in 2023 under their Specified Illness policy,

“It was just the most seamless process I think I’ve ever claimed for anything. Within 6 weeks, there was money in the account. It wasn’t going to make me better, but it was just something to give you the peace of mind and the security.”

Now that is what insurance is all about. The peace of mind that money will not be a central worry at the time of dealing with a death or major illness.

When we sit down with you to examine your protection requirements, of course we spend a lot of time helping you to select the right insurer and the best policy for you. The differences between various policies can make a material difference. But at the end of the day, the most important feature is that if needed, your claim will be paid quickly and without fuss in your hour of need.

Separation – reduce the financial turmoil

Ending a marriage is usually a really tough time. There are big decisions to make about who gets to take care of the kids, how often each parent gets to see them, and where everyone’s going to live. Often, things get pretty tense between the ex-partners.

Then comes the tricky part: figuring out who gets what stuff, how much money one person needs to give the other for support, and how to pay off any debts. It’s really helpful to have a financial planner involved because they can handle all of this without getting caught up in the emotions. Our main goal is to make sure you come out of this with the best possible outcome regarding money matters. So, here are some areas to think about, and where we can lend a hand.

We’ll leave the emotion at the door

Believe it or not, we’re just as emotional as anyone else, but when it comes to handling our clients’ money, we switch gears completely. During the intense period at the breakup of a marriage, it’s incredibly helpful to have someone who can set aside emotions and focus solely on the financial side of things. Sometimes, we might suggest solutions like selling the family home to buy two smaller ones, even though it’s tough for both parties to agree this on their own. Remember, equitable doesn’t necessarily mean equal. Factors like who primarily uses the asset or who might need it more (for example, a primary caregiver might need the family car) should be considered.

As part of this, don’t forget to take care of your emotional and mental well-being and encourage your ex to do so too. This isn’t directly a financial tip, but stress can lead to impulsive or poor financial decisions. Consider counselling or support groups, and ensure you have a personal support network to lean on. Having voices of reason around you can save a lot of time, expense and additional heartache.

Keep lines of communication open

Emotions tend to run high during a separation. However, open and honest communication about finances is essential for both parties to achieve the optimal solution. Do your best to leave “one upmanship” outside the room, and instead focus on the current situation and how to handle joint responsibilities and assets.

Keep the kids front and centre

It might seem like putting the kids first should be a no-brainer, and for the most part, it is for many couples going through a separation. But sometimes, people get so focused on getting what’s best for themselves that they forget about what’s important. If you have kids, it’s crucial to make sure their needs come first. That could mean setting aside money for their schooling or making sure they have a stable place to live. And remember, child support isn’t about punishing or rewarding anyone — it’s just about making sure the kids are taken care of.

Understand the financial products needed in the future

When you’re going through a separation, it’s important to make sure you have the right life insurance in place to secure maintenance payments if one partner passes away. Get advice on what type of policy to choose and who should receive the benefits, so you can minimise any Capital Acquisitions Tax liabilities on receipt of the benefits.

If you’re receiving maintenance payments, it’s also crucial to make sure your ex-partner has enough income protection in case they can’t work due to illness or injury. And don’t forget to keep your health insurance coverage in place, as letting it lapse can lead to higher costs or less coverage later on.

Dealing with pensions can be really tricky, especially during a divorce. A Pension Adjustment Order (PAO) allows you to get a share of your ex-partner’s pension fund, but there are different ways to set this up. You can either keep the benefits in the pension scheme until your ex-partner retires, or you can transfer your share to your own pension arrangement. We’ll help you figure out the best approach for your situation.

Be realistic about household expenses

It’s crucial to get real about your household expenses when you’re going through a separation, especially if you and your ex didn’t pay much attention to spending before. If you’re going to be receiving maintenance payments later on, you need to really understand how much it takes to run your family. This means keeping a close eye on your monthly spending and also considering any big expenses that come up throughout the year—things like car costs, school fees, holidays, club memberships, and insurance. These expenses can really add up, and we can help you figure them all out.

But here’s the tough part: we can’t make them disappear. Going forward, you might have to support two households with just one income, which often means making some sacrifices.

A separation is never going to be easy, particularly in an emotional context. But by focusing on the practicalities and ensuring decisions are equitable and fair, both parties can transition to their next life chapter with greater security and peace of mind.