ProtectionApr 17 2023

Rise in protection claims related to WFH

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Rise in protection claims related to WFH
Musculoskeletal related claims were the most common form of claim in 2022, accounting for 33 per cent according to AFM(Thirdman/Pexels)

The systemic shift to remote working for much of the UK population has seen an increase in back, neck and other related protection claims, an analysis has shown.

Figures from the Association of Financial Mutuals has shown that musculoskeletal related claims were the most common form of claim in 2022, accounting for 33 per cent. 

Musculoskeletal claims can be any injuries relating to limbs, the back and neck. These can be related to joints, muscles, ligaments or tendons.

According to AFM, its members that offer income protection paid out £52mn in claims in 2022 to more than 9,000 customers. 

“This, and increasing amounts paid out emphasise the growing importance people attach to ensuring their income is secured if they can’t work due to injury or illness,” AFM chief executive, Andrew Whyte said. 

The total amount of claims paid out was up significantly from £34mn in 2021, although much of the increase can be accounted for by the fact LV joined AFM in that period, expanding its value of claims paid. 

Removing LV from the equation, the amount paid out in 2022 was approximately 3 per cent higher, while the number of claims was down 2 per cent. 

Rise of WFH

Musculoskeletal related claims were also the most frequent in previous years, although AFM noted that the rate of increase is significant.

In 2020, AFM speculated that the fall in musculoskeletal claims coincided with lockdown and the likelihood that people were spending less time travelling and at their desks. 

It has said that the rapid rise in claims since indicate that this respite was temporary and that changing lifestyles since the pandemic, such as increased remote working and greater use of technology, have made people more vulnerable to problems with joints, bones and muscles.

Meanwhile, the number of claims relating to mental health fell slightly in 2022, from 9 per cent in 2021 to 8 per cent in 2022. 

This is despite the HSE reporting that more than half of workplace-related ill-health cases are caused by stress, anxiety and depression. 

The majority of claims - 66 per cent - last less than a year, while one in seven run for over five years. 

The proportion of claims approved by AFM members dropped slightly in 2022 down to 92 per cent from 94 per cent the year previous. 

According to AFM, the main reason for claims to be declined was due to key information not being disclosed at the point of application or that the claim was outside the scope of the policy.