• Kyodo

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Insurance policies covering various expenses relating to dementia are growing more common as Japanese demographics shift to an older population.

One in five Japanese age 65 or older are projected to suffer from dementia in 2025, according to estimates by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

In January, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co. started selling a fire insurance product for households with a special clause to cover damages stemming from halted train operations caused by dementia patients wandering onto rail tracks.

The product was developed following a damages suit filed by a railway against the family of a man with dementia who was fatally struck by a train in an accident that disrupted railway operations. If families lose such cases, they face large compensation payments.

Fire insurance policyholders can obtain the special coverage by paying an extra ¥2,500 a year, according to Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance.

“We added the special clause to the fire insurance service purchased by many people because long-term care providers’ (liability) risk is growing,” a company official said.

Taiyo Life Insurance Co. started selling an insurance product covering treatment for dementia in March 2016. Insured people can receive a lump-sum payment of up to ¥3 million if they continue to show symptoms of dementia for 180 days.

Combined with related products, about 220,000 such insurance policies had been sold as of June, according to the company.

Taiyo Life found through interviews with consumers that their most common concern was anxiety about dementia, which prompted the company to develop the product.

One of the interviewees said, “I don’t want to cause trouble for my family,” while another said, “I would like to reduce payments (related to dementia) from an early stage of long-term care,” according to the company.

Taiyo Life also began dispatching personnel to help customers complete the procedure of insurance claims in response to their complaints that filling out documents was bothersome, an official said.

In April, Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Himawari Life Insurance Inc. started selling health insurance products with a special clause enabling a lump-sum payment for long-term nursing care.

According to a government survey, dementia is one of the major causes behind the need for long-term care.

If insured people are certified as level one or above in the five-point scale of long-term care need measured under the public nursing care insurance system, holders of the insurance policy can receive a lump sum ranging from ¥100,000 to ¥5 million.

“We responded to a rapid rise in the number of people with lower-level need for long-term nursing care. We hope the allowance will be used for such purposes as renovating their residence (to aid those in need of care),” an official of the company said.

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