Income protection premiums have always been more expensive for women.
The cost of protection for females can be up to three times more expensive than for men because statistics show women take more time off work due to illness and they claim more often.
But this enhanced cost of cover is not deterring women taking out IP insurance as they are increasingly recognising the importance of protecting their income.
Friends Provident protection product manager Karen Evans believes that women are generally more conscious of their health than men and are more likely to visit their doctor regularly and discover an illness.
Hargreaves Lansdown head of research Jon Briggs says: “Women are more aware of themselves and more likely to get regular check-ups and find out if they are ill whereas men sweat it out until they are at death’s door. Men are more likely to die and women are more likely to be sick.”
Research conducted by Aegon Scottish Equitable last year found that women tend to claim much earlier in life than men, with 41 per cent of women claiming between the ages of 21 and 40 years while only 23 per cent of men claim at this stage. Between 41 and 50, 39 per cent of women make IP claims compared with 27 per cent of men.
Half of all male claims are made when the client is 51 or over while only 20 per cent of claims are made by women at this stage of life.
Evans believes that claims for women tend to last longer than male claims because the illnesses are detected earlier. But Aegon Scottish Equitable head of underwriting Matt Rann says women generally get back to work faster than men, within six months or so.
He says men are more likely to be paid out for longer because they tend to be older when they claim so they are often at a later stage of their illness which can be harder to cure.
He says: “Women have a higher number of claim inceptions because they get checked out more often but they return to work sooner and men do not go to the doctors as much so probably have less inception but are off work longer.”
The Aegon Scottish Equitable study also listed the most common illnesses making people unfit for work. The data shows the major reason that women claim for income protection is musculoskeletal or back problems at 27 per cent. This is closely followed by psychological conditions such as stress and depression which cause 24 per cent of claims and 14 per cent of claims were due to cancer, mostly breast.
For men musculoskeletal problems were responsible for 38 per cent of claims followed by psychological illnesses at16 per cent and cardiovascular problems on 13 per cent.
Evans says women suffer more from stress and anxiety than men and adds that psychological illnesses are on the increase. She says heart disease, an illness which has largely been a male problem, is also increasing among women along with osteoporosis, obesity and problems related to excessive drinking.
The Office for National Statistics’ labour market trends reveal that female employees are more likely to take at least one extra day off sick than men and women aged 25 to 34 have the highest rate of sickness absence.
Some IFAs believe that certain occupations common to women could be causing more illnesses and more claims from female clients.
CBK principal Peter Chadborn says: “Certain types of occupations common to women have higher claim rates. The two biggest reasons that people claim are back problems and stress. Teaching has one of the highest stress levels and nursing, because of the lifting involved, causes a lot back problems.”
But Evans says women are not being deterred by their higher premiums and are becoming more aware of the consequences of being off work.
She says: “Women understand the need to cover themselves. Women are financially aware and independent so more women are taking out income protection because they know they have to support themselves and possibly any children they have.”
Evans believes that more women are uncomfortable on being financially dependent on a partner and want their own careers.
The higher percentage of single people and people getting married and having children later in life are also factors which are contributing to women recognising the need to protect their income. Evans says the increase in working mothers is also having an effect.
She adds that more women are self-employed these days and are more vulnerable.
Evans says: “A quarter of women setting up their own businesses are single, divorced or widowed and often have no one to bail them out if it goes wrong so they realise the need to protect themselves.”