LV= has seen a major decrease in cancer claims due to the impact of coronavirus lockdown.
In April, the protection provider recorded a 45% fall in critical illness claims compared to 2019 figures. Around 2,700 fewer people were diagnosed with cancer each week, and in May 2020 there was a 47% fall in urgent cancer referrals compared to May 2019.
However, it is anticipating a rise in advanced stage cancer diagnoses and claims in 2021 caused by a backlog of screenings.
In spite of the fall in cancer claims through lockdown, figures from LV= latest Protection Pays report shows that from 1st Jan to 31st July 2020 LV= paid more than £22.7m in cancer claims to 412 individuals and their families across income protection, critical illness and life insurance.
Cancer accounts for 20% of LV= income protection claims, 56% or critical illness and 40% of life assurance claims. Breast, bowel and lung cancer are the most commonly claimed for, amounting to more than 40% of LV= claims.
Debbie Kennedy, director of protection at LV=, said: “Since the start of lockdown we saw a worrying fall in Critical Illness insurance claims as the NHS was forced to shut down or significantly reduce many areas of non-Covid care for cancer between April and June.
“This, combined with fewer patients seeking care during lockdown, means that there has been a significant drop in elective procedures, urgent cancer referrals, first cancer treatments and outpatient appointments.
“There is a real risk that having fewer cancer screenings during lockdown will develop into a long-term problem, as more people are prevented from receiving a timely cancer diagnosis. By the time that these cases reach the claims stage, customers may experience more acute symptoms than in previous years which will be difficult to treat.
“We extended our cancer coverage earlier in the year with enhanced cancer cover; including adding additional payment conditions, and a new £1,000 cost of diagnosis of cancer payment to help with the unexpected initial costs associated.
“At LV=, we have adapted our claims processes making it easier for policyholders to claim and, through conversations with our claims assessors, access timely and helpful guidance, treatment and support for those diagnosed with cancer.”