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Working from home triggers increase in protection claims

Written by: Emma Lunn
More people working from home has led to an increase in claims for back, neck and aching muscles.

The Association of Financial Mutuals (AFM) found that musculoskeletal related claims were the most common form of claim in 2022, accounting for a third (33%) of cases.

AFM members that offer income protection products paid out £52m in claims in 2022, to more than 9,000 customers. This compares to £34m in claims in 2021.

Much of the increase reflects that LV= has since joined AFM and its results have expanded the value of claims paid. Looking at the figures on a like-for-like basis, the amount paid out in 2022 is around 3% higher, whilst the number of claims fell 2%.

The most common form of claim was musculoskeletal (33% of all claims). Whilst these claims were also the most frequent in previous years, the rate of increase is significant.

In 2020, the AFM speculated that the fall in musculoskeletal claims coincided with lockdown and the likelihood that people were spending less time travelling and at their desk. It says the rapid rise since indicates that this respite was temporary, and that changing lifestyles since the start of the pandemic, such as increased remote working and greater use of technology, have made us more vulnerable to problems with joints, bones and muscles.

Interestingly, the number of claims relating to mental health fell slightly, from 9% in 2021 to 8% in 2022. This is despite the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reporting that more than half of workplace-related ill health cases are caused by stress, anxiety and depression.

The importance of income protection

According to the AFM, the vast majority of claims last a relatively short time, but one in seven claims run for over five years.  This illustrates the vital support that income protection can provide. Whilst the number of people who need to claim is modest, the benefits to those that do can be immeasurable. The AFM says that by having protection in place, people that would otherwise be forced to rely solely on state support, can maintain their standard of living during a protracted illness.

Andrew Whyte, AFM chief executive, said: “AFM members sold 50,000 new income protection policies in 2022. 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.

“Whilst inflation and the cost of living remain high, having the capacity to pay the bills and look after the family finances has never been more important. Mutual income protection providers are at the forefront of paying claims and committed to providing the best possible service to their members.”

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