People assume that serious illness is something that happens when we get older, but that is not always true, according to an analysis from AA Life Insurance.

Almost a fifth of Specified Illness claims made in Ireland were made by people under the age of 40.

The analysis showed that 18% of serious illness claims were made by a person under the age of 40. Men were also found to have made up a lower percentage of the number of claims made in 2016 in comparison to 2015, dropping from 61% to 55% of all claims within the last year.

The market analysis also found that women, while accounting for less specified illness claims, were likely to be younger when making a claim against their cover.

“Serious illnesses hit young people as well,” says AA Director of Consumer Affairs, Conor Faughnan. “The consequences can me more serious for the family when that happens, especially in terms of loss of income.”

While the average age of male claimants in 2016 was between 49 and 53, this figure dropped to an average age of 42 among women. In addition, an overwhelming majority of specified illness claims made by women (83%) related to a form of cancer, compared to 54% of claims made by men.

On average the amount paid out in relation to specified illness claims increased slightly in 2016, with the average claim amounting to €96,672 compared to €94,857 in 2015.