At Ear Service Company (ESCO), the only product we offer is insurance for hearing devices. Whether it is protection from the financial impact of an aid suddenly lost, or by covering the cost to repair or replace a damaged device.
Because all insurance types are regulated and monitored closely, as an insurance agency, we are required to track and report on very complex and specific data points. ESCO continuously tracks what situation the wearer was in when they lost an aid. However, after speculation and rumors surfaced about facemasks being a significant reason for lost aids, ESCO began to examine internal data. In June of 2020, ESCO made a surprising discovery.
By comparing data of loss claims filed from January 2016 to June of 2020, hearing aids lost from the removal of facemasks went from zero lost in February 2020 to become the second most prevalent reason of all time.
Hearing aid loss claims in 2020
- Disappearance / Misplaced = 69%
- Face Mask Removal = 17%
- Nursing Home or Retirement Facility loss = 5%
- Damaged beyond repair = 5%
- Animal / pet total loss = 3%
- Unspecific/Random/Lost in Shipping = 1%
ESCO uses a broad general term to describe aids lost without reason. In short, the cause was unknown, or the loss was an accident. That term: disappearance/misplaced accounts for more than 78% of total claims in the past five years.
Compared to the number of instances involving a pet/animal each year, at just over 3%, the unknown reason is a significant number of aids lost.
However, hearing aids lost in 2020 from removing a facemask (all a cause of the pandemic) became the second highest reason in just weeks. Yes, hearing aids lost because of the removal of a facemask went from zero claims in February 2020 to over 50 claims in just a few short weeks.
It is difficult to describe what sort of impact this is and how it relates to the overall number of hearing aids lost in a year without pointing out, each of those lost hearing aids was someone’s way of communicating with family, friends, and loved ones. I think we all know how significant that is. Especially considering the isolation imposed by the pandemic. Not to mention, many hearing clinics were closed for a short period in late spring, early summer of 2020. Replacing a lost hearing aid just was not an option for several weeks.
It is still too early to report on data for 2021, but sadly, from early glimpses at lost hearing aid claims thus far in 2021, it looks like the number from facemask removal is continuing to ramp upward.
If you wear hearing aids, you are likely asking, what can I do? Having to continue to wear facemasks well into 2021 is a realistic expectation. And changing your lifestyle or isolating yourself because of the mandate to wear facemasks is not reasonable. By taking suggestions through a random poll of hearing care providers, ESCO has some tips.
· When removing a facemask, be mindful and double-check to ensure your hearing aids are still in place.
· Ask a friend or loved one to remind you to double-check.
· Use clips or lanyards to attach your hearing aid to clothing just in case it does slip off your ear.
· Check with your provider on other tips or tricks on how to wear a facemask with hearing aids.
· Most importantly, since accidents do happen, double-check that your hearing aids have loss and damage coverage.