Cancer remains the main cause of specified illness and death benefit claims in Sligo, according to the latest figures from Irish Life – the country's largest provider of life assurance and specified illness cover.
The Irish Life figures show that cancer accounted for 54% of specified illness claims and death benefit in Sligo in 2008 while heart conditions accounted for 25% of claims.
These figures compare with the national average of 50% for cancer-related claims and 22% for heart-related claims. The figures also compare with a Connacht average of 57% for cancer-related claims and 19% for heart-related claims.
The figures show that Irish Life paid out €962,000 in respect of 11 death benefit claims in Sligo in 2008 and a further €821,000 in 13 specified illness claims. The average age in Sligo for whom death benefit was paid was 57 for males and 65 for females..
In 2008, Irish Life paid out €29.7 million in respect of more than 500 specified illness claims nationally – an average of just under €59,000 per claim.
Some 300 of the claims were in respect of cancer and 107 were heart-related. The other main causes of claims were strokes (33) and multiple sclerosis (23).
The single biggest payment was €752,000 to a 41-year-old female medical professional in respect of breast cancer.
Last year, Irish Life paid out more than €86 million in respect of 1,335 death claims – an average of just under €65,000 per claim. Twice as many death benefits were paid in respect of males than females.
As with specified benefit claims, cancer (almost 50%) and heart-related conditions (22%) accounted for the vast majority of death benefit claims. The single biggest death benefit paid out by Irish Life was €1.2 million in respect of a 45-year-old female who died of ovarian cancer.
Commenting on the figures: Irish Life's Head of Underwriting and Claims, Martin Duffy said: "Our national death claim figures show a significant number of payments in respect of people in their 30's, 40's and 50's, many of whom were the main income earners.
"This shows how crucially important it is to examine your level of specified illness and life cover to ensure your family is fully cared for if these things were unfortunately to happen to you.
"However, our average payment for death claims last year was just under €65,000, which would only give a family an annual income of €4,607 for 20 years.
"Would this be enough to help support dependants? With the average income in Ireland now being a little over €40,000, regrettably many Irish families who lose a loved one could also have to face up to coping with financial difficulties," he said.