Solutions for an ageing society

27 Jun 2017

The fourth in the series, this year's Next Generation Insurance Customer considered solutions for an ageing society. The conference asked four key questions: (1) How will we fund an increasing number of elderly in their upkeep, their health and their care if and when needed? (2) What changes can we expect to see in mortality and morbidity trends in older age? (3) How will our relationship with technology affect how we care and support those in older age? And (4) how can insurance continue to develop products and services for elderly consumers? The answers we got were revealing and thought provoking.

For more information on Swiss Re and ageing, please see our Funding Longer Lives page.



The needs of an ageing population

Tom Wright
CEO, Age UK & Age International

The ability to live longer is, in one sense, one of the great human achievements. However, it comes at a cost. One of those costs is that the elderly will form an increasingly large proportion of the population in most countries; and must to some degree be supported. The other cost is that life expectancy is outpacing healthy life expectancy. We might be living longer, but with a growing range of incapacities and illnesses.

This presents a variety of challenges for society. The first is that the elderly must support themselves at a time when state pensions are decreasing and private pensions are increasingly structured around defined contribution schemes, the ultimate success of which are unproven. This creates a range of political problems. The second challenge is that the elderly need more healthcare. The average health spend required for an 85 year old is around 8 times that of a 25 year old in the UK. A third challenge is that increasing numbers of elderly will need social care, an increase of 25% expected in the UK between 2015 and 2025.

Insurance would be one potential solution to these funding pressures; however, insurance is more effective for near-term dangers, and individuals place a steep discounting rate on risks many decades into the future. Others see solutions in terms of robotics and digital interfaces. However, although there are some elderly heavily active on digital technology, a disproportionate number relative to the overall population are not. Robots may appear equally alien to many elderly users, who may have legitimate concerns around privacy and surveillance.

Click here to watch the summary video. 

Ageing: a challenging opportunity

Séverine Rion
Head Life & Health R & D Europe, Swiss Re