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Not receiving an annual bonus might result in you suffering from depression, and your employer might not know what disability cover really is. 

These are two of the findings in the 2017 Old Mutual Corporate Disability Monitor, which was released this week.

The monitor canvassed the views of 100 companies, 35 intermediaries, four reinsurers and 14 assessors. 

Seventy percent of respondents said the state of the economy affected disability claims. When asked why members were more likely to claim when the economy was in the doldrums, 41% of respondents said that financial stress led to psychological stress, which resulted in physical problems. 

The reinsurers said that not receiving a bonus negatively affected the mind-set of employees. 

When asked which disabilities had increased, 71% of all respondents said psychological disorders and 70% said cancer. Twenty-four percent said muscular-skeletal issues, 16% said cardiovascular illness and 13% said HIV. Only 5% said there had been an increase in physical injuries.

The digital revolution has resulted in fewer physical injuries in the workplace. However, workplace health risks have not decreased but changed, the monitor says. Reinsurers and assessors are seeing a shift in claims from physical injuries to stress-related and psychological issues, as well as those that result from prolonged sitting.

Old Mutual said respondents have indicated that there needs to be greater emphasis on preventative care and rehabilitation in order to cut down on disability costs. 

Overall, 43% of respondents said that the nature of disability claims had changed in the past year, and 36% of companies and 45% of intermediaries agreed.

“While this modern world of work is opening up amazing possibilities, it has also brought a new set of challenges and health risks,” says Clement Chinaka, the managing director of Old Mutual Corporate. “Living in an always-on culture, we have become physically disconnected from each other and emotionally disconnected from ourselves. We’re less aware of our own physical and emotional needs, or just too busy to pay them any attention.”

The monitor found that there is a disconnect between businesses’ understanding of disability cover and what the evidence suggests. 

When asked what they thought disability cover included, only 11% of the businesses surveyed knew that disability cover included mental health issues. 

When asked what they thought disability cover included, 67% of companies said “anything that renders you unfit to do your job”. Thirty-two percent said that cancer was included and 30% mentioned losing a limb.

The monitor found that poor lifestyle – inadequate exercise, an unhealthy diet, smoking, substance abuse and obesity – led to 70% of the primary causes of disability claims.

Stress-related claims accounted for 54% of claims, while psychological issues comprised 39%. Physical injury accounted for 30% of claims and immune-compromised individuals who contracted secondary infections accounted for 25%. Motor-accident claims accounted for 23% of claims, while economic/financial stress accounted for 17%.

“A limping economy and being over-indebted causes anxiety and contributes to employees’ inability to cope. The tough economic climate is also causing many employees to worry about job losses and retrenchments (38%),” says Chinaka.

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