Many life insurance policies contain an extra benefit called Terminal Illness Benefit. Terminal Illness Benefit means the Insurer will make a prepayment of the death benefit to the policyholder/s if they are diagnosed as being terminally ill for any medical reason and have less than 12 months to live.

People who are terminally ill may find that receiving a life insurance pre-payment while they are still alive significantly reduces financial worry at an extremely difficult and stressful time for them and their families. Making a terminal illness claim is usually straightforward and can be paid quickly and there is the additional benefit that the payment does not need to go through Probate.

Irish Life recently released its claims figures for the first half of 2018. In total, over that period they have paid out €153.6 million to 4,600 policyholders and/or their families who have been affected by illness, injury and death.

The claims data shows that in Ireland, only 3% of people claimed a Terminal Illness Benefit. In the UK, the comparable figure for terminal illness claims is 20%, according to the 2017 Report of the Association of British Insurers.

Of the death claims paid out by Irish Life in the first half of 2018, almost half (44%) were for malignant cancer. Many of these cancers would have been a terminal condition long before the person unfortunately passed away. This would suggest that a substantially higher number of people could be claiming terminal illness benefit while the condition was in place.

Lack of awareness of the benefit in Ireland is the most likely reason for the reduced numbers of claims. Many life insurance plans have a Terminal Illness benefit added, so if you or a family member has a life insurance policy and have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and have less than 12 months to live, you should contact your broker. The broker will confirm if you are covered and eligible for a life insurance prepayment now and your broker will help you make the claim.