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Cancer leads to nearly two-thirds of critical-illness insurance claims Posted: July 5th, 2012

By Maryalene LaPonsie

Maryalene LaPonsie has been writing professionally for more than a decade on topics including education, insurance and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Western Michigan University.

Cancer is the leading factor behind critical-illness insurance claims, according to recently released data from the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance and the General Re Life Corporation.

The 2012 Critical Illness Insurance Buyer & Claimant Study found cancer was the reason behind nearly two in three claims. These claims far outnumbered those from stroke and heart attack, which were the second and third most common source of claims.

Analysis of critical illness insurance claimants

The study considered critical-illness claims for 2011 from 10 critical-illness insurers as well as data from 57,000 policies.

Nearly half of those making claims in 2011 were between the ages of 35 and 54. The percentage of claims for those younger than age 45 increased in 2011 as compared to 2010. Last year, 13 percent of male claimants and 12 percent of female claimants were younger than 45.

The three leading causes of claims were the following conditions:

  • Cancer - 61 percent
  • Stroke - 18 percent
  • Heart attack - 11 percent

Claims can supplement medical insurance

Unlike medical insurance, critical-illness coverage provides cash payments to claimants that can be used to pay bills of any kind. In addition, the money can be used to fill any gaps left by health insurance coverage.

"Individual health insurance policies today have large deductibles, typically require co-payments and don't cover all costs, especially for a critical illness," said David A. Gerrish, senior vice president of sales for Dearborn National Worksite & Individual Solutions, in a statement.

Critical-illness insurance is purchased separately from health insurance plans, and employers may offer coverage as part of a benefits package. Gerrish notes premiums for these plans typically are affordable.

Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Association, says in a press statement that as health insurance plans increase deductibles and add policy restrictions, critical-illness insurance is gaining popularity among people in their 30s and 40s. The fact that younger individuals are purchasing the policies in increasing numbers may explain the increase in claims for those in the under-45 age bracket.

While critical-illness insurance can be beneficial for those facing a serious condition, consumers should be aware the policies are not medical insurance and are not a substitute for health insurance coverage.