Younger women twice as likely to access GIP for mental health

Younger women are significantly more likely to access group income protection for mental health issues than men, with a third of women claiming earning under £20,000, Unum’s claim statistics show.

The figures show that while claims increase considerably with age, 42 per cent of women making a mental health claim are under 40 years old, compared to 21 per cent of men.

Unum’s figures show 30 per cent of women who claimed last year earn under £20,000, challenging the perception that GIP is largely a valuable benefit for higher earners. Overall, 21 per cent of new claims were made by men and women earning under £20,000. But claims by men increase considerably as they age, with 59 per cent of male claimants 50 years old or over and just 18 per cent under 40.

Women are under-protected compared to men – with only 37 of those Unum covers being female, even though they make up 44 per cent of claims.  They are also more likely to face serious health problems earlier in their working lives than men, which is reflected in GIP claims, with 28 per cent of women claiming across all conditions being under 40, a further 28 per cent in their forties and 45 per cent 50 or over. That compares to 59 per cent of males claiming who were aged 50 plus.

The insurer met 1,722 GIP claims in the year to 31 July 2017.

The statement also reveals the most common conditions men and women claim for. Cancer and mental health problems are the biggest causes of long-term sickness absence among men and women.  Exactly a quarter of claims made by men and a third of those made by women are for cancer. An identical proportion – 17 per cent of claims made by both genders are for mental health problems, such as stress, depression and anxiety.

Cardiovascular and circulatory problems are the third most common condition for men, representing 12 per cent of their claims, but ranks eighth for women, for whom the condition represented just 3 per cent of claims.  Musculoskeletal problems are the third most common reason women claim – a cause of 12 per cent of claims, and the third most common condition overall – representing 10 per cent of all claims across both genders.

Unum CEO Peter O’Donnell says: “There are record numbers of women in work and this statement proves how valuable group income protection is throughout their careers.  Almost a third of women claiming earn under £20,000 and more than 40 percent of women who made a mental health claim were under 40 years old.  More of our claims still come from older workers though, especially men over 50.

“So we need to do more to protect our changing workforce.  Less than 1 in 10 workers have GIP and women and older workers are even less likely to be protected.  A temporary tax break for employers that invest in group income protection is the best way to close this unsustainable protection gap”.