31% of long-term sickness claims are for cancer

John Letizia - Head of public Affairs at Unum

Just under a third (31%) of long-term sickness claims paid relate to cancer, according to research by Unum.

Its second annual claims statement, which provides information on all the income protection claims paid by Unum to people who became too ill to work between 1 August 2015 and 31 July 2016, also found that 25% of paid claims relating to cancer were for breast cancer, and 23% were for gastrointestinal cancer.

The research also found:

  • Blood and lymph system cancers account for 12% of paid cancer claims, the nervous system for 8%, and respiratory tract for 6%.
  • 35% of claims paid to men relating to cancer were for gastrointestinal cancer. Breast cancer accounted for 47% of cancer-related claims paid to women.
  • 19% of long-term sickness claims paid were for mental health conditions, with 9% relating to musculoskeletal problems, and 8% for cardiovascular issues.
  • 48% of those who made a claim earn less than £30,000 a year, and 67% earn less than £40,000 a year.
  • 51% of cancer claims and 44% of total claims are made by women.
  • 64% of those covered by group income protection are men.
  • 50% of all claims and 57% of cancer claims are made by employees over the age of 50.
  • 22% of employees making claims are under the age of 40.

John Letizia (pictured), head of public affairs at Unum, said: “This data reminds us that anyone can become too ill to work and benefit from the financial security and support services of income protection.

“But at a time when more and more older people and women are in work, it shows the unique value of income protection for the evolving UK workforce. Women are almost one and a half times more likely to claim than men and half of our claims come from those aged 50 and over. We urge the government to look at what can be done to encourage employers to protect more of their staff.

“The statement also lays to rest the misconception that income protection is some kind of exclusive or executive benefit. Half of those making a claim earn under £30,000. Their employers recognise the business benefits of providing people with financial support when they’re ill and practical measures to help them return to work when they’re ready.”