ONS stats show rise in cancer-related deaths

Cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease are the UK’s biggest killers, statistics show, but despite the prevalence of protection products covering these, few people have taken out insurance.

An Office for National Statistics bulletin, Mortality Statistics: Deaths Registered in 2013, showed that there were 506,790 deaths registered in England and Wales in 2013, a rise of 1.5 per cent compared with 2012.

Among these, the ONS found that cancer was the broad disease group responsible for the largest percentage of deaths registered in 2013 – 29 per cent.

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The statistics also showed that the leading cause of death for men in 2013 was ischaemic heart diseases, at 15.4 per cent, while for females the leading cause was dementia and Alzheimer’s, at 12.2 per cent.

Phil Jeynes, head of account development for life provider PruProtect, said: “Critical illness plans have always covered cancer and heart attacks, as these are the headline diseases.

“But few people have taken out policies, which puts them at risk. Where our serious illness cover can help is that generally, cover has had a cut-off time regarding payouts, but SIC will pay anything from 5 per cent to 100 per cent, depending on where the patient’s condition sits on the arc of severity.

“For example, if people have an early stage cancer for which they can get treatment, then the plan will give them a smaller amount to help meet those costs. At the other end, when it is impossible to treat, then the policy will pay out.”

The figures came as research by consultancy Towers Watson found that UK companies were facing big cost increases in their employee insurance premiums as the average age of their employees continued to rise.

It found that, when a company’s average employee age rises by five years, its group income protection insurance premium could increase by as much as 50 per cent.

The company also found that a change in the average employee age from 35 to 40 could result in a 40 per cent increase in premium costs for group life assurance, with the cost continuing to increase as the organisation’s average age rises.

A rise to an average age of 40 to 45 could result in a 50 per cent premium increase. Should the average age rise to 45 to 50, a 60 per cent increase could result.

Key facts

506,790 deaths registered in England and Wales in 2013

Cancer accounted for 29% of deaths

15.4 per cent of all male deaths were from heart disease

12.2% of all female deaths caused by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

Source: ONS

Adviser view

Peter le Beau, managing director of Kent-based consultancy Le Beau Visage, said: “The improvement in overall mortality means that people of insurance buying age are likely to live longer than previous generations and this is reflected in cheaper rates for those in good health.

“As always though it is a good idea for clients to buy cover at as young an age as possible before any health issues evidence themselves.”