2018 was a year where the critical illness market landscape saw unrivalled product updates and launches. Whilst the established order of who provided the most cost effective and who had the most comprehensive plans may have changed on sometimes a weekly basis, the changes being made were overwhelmingly positive. Any improvement in coverage should be welcomed, however at FTRC we particularly look for improvements in the conditions with high incidence, as improvements in coverage in these conditions will result in far more claims being paid. In this week’s insight we will look to explore this further to understand how a client’s age and the term of the plan will affect what conditions a female is more likely to claim on.

As you would expect, you are more likely to suffer from a critical illness the older you become. There are however certain conditions that are more prevalent at younger ages. This is particularly important to understand when considering critical illness as the conditions that are more likely to affect a female in their 20s will be different to what will affect her in her 50s.

As many would expect, cancer has the largest incidence across all age ranges. The type of cancer that is most likely to affect a female however, will differ dependent on age. From the mid-20s to the mid-30s, the highest incidence cancer is actually carcinoma in situ of the Cervix Uteri. The main reason for this is due to extensive cervical screening (smear test) during these ages which picks up abnormal cells in the cervix at an early stage. This highlights that for younger females a good carcinoma in situ of the Cervix Uteri definition is preferable. As females enter their 40s and beyond the highest incidence cancer becomes stage 1 to 4 breast cancer, which would be covered within critical illness plans under the main cancer definition. 

Although cancer is by far the most likely cause of a critical illness claim for younger females, there are several other conditions that have relatively high incidence at a young age. One such condition is Multiple Sclerosis which has its highest incidence in females between the ages of 30 and 40. Whilst incidence is not as high as the previously mentioned carcinoma in situ of the Cervix Uteri, prevalence is still significant with higher incidence in Scotland particularly.

As females become older and approach their forties, the incidence of coronary conditions increases. Heart Attack, Coronary Angioplasty and Congestive Heart Failure are the three highest incidence coronary conditions. As can be seen from the chart below, the incidence of these conditions is minimal before age forty with incidence for each increasing considerably as the client ages. Whilst all insurers cover heart attack to a similar level (there are some small differences between insurers), the level of cover for both Coronary Angioplasty and Congestive Heart Failure is far more diverse with several insurers not offering a definition at all for congestive heart failure.

Whilst most conditions increase in incidence the older a female becomes, dementia in particular has a massive spike in incidence as the client passes 65. Many studies have linked the onset of dementia to retirement and the reduction in cognitive activities and therefore it is perhaps not surprising that it is after 65 when we see a spike in the incidence of Dementia. To highlight the steep increase in dementia, we compare its incidence over time to that of all stage 1-4 cancers (i.e. what would be covered under the main cancer definition).

Ultimately what this all highlights is that the conditions a client is most likely to claim for will depend on a number of factors including their gender, age and the term of the plan. As part of our underlying research within our protection comparison tool, Quality Analyser, we use this medical incidence data to help us identify which conditions are more prevalent at different ages. This combined with our panel of doctors’ analysis of insurer definitions, enables us to highlight which insurers are more likely to pay a claim based on the conditions that a specific client is likely to suffer from.


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