LV= has revealed it paid more than £15.6m in cancer-related claims during the first five months of the year but is expecting that to rise sharply during the second half of 2021.
It highlighted that delayed diagnoses and treatments as a result of the NHS being swamped with the Covid pandemic meant it was likely there would be more deaths from cancer.
The insurer said the more than 200 claims paid up to 10 May was on par with 2020 figures but warned screenings and urgent referrals for cancer had been significantly reduced from previous years as a result of the pandemic.
LV= cited figures from Cancer Research UK that around 45,000 fewer cancer patients had started treatment between April 2020 to March 2021 compared to the previous year.
It added that in May 2020, there was a 47% drop in urgent cancer referrals compared to the previous year, with 2,700 fewer cancer diagnoses each week, while LV= recorded a 45% drop in critical illness claims compared to figures from February 2020.
Up to 10 May 2021 the insurer paid £5.5m in cancer critical illness claims, with the highest claim paid for £367,000 while the youngest claimant was 29 and the average age was 52.
It also paid £83,000 in income protection claims so far this year with the youngest customer to claim being 31 and an average age of 50.
LV= also revealed that breast, bowel, lung and prostate cancers were the most common reasons to claim.
‘More claims and more deaths’
In its Protection Pays report, head of underwriting and claims Anna Rogers highlighted that from a protection provider perspective it was still quite early to fully see the impacts of Covid on cancer diagnosis and claims.
“The Covid response has delayed and reduced many areas of healthcare, particularly in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer,” she said.
“Cancer services have been reduced along with a reduction in normal screening programmes. As we are now moving out of what hopefully is our last lockdown period, we expect to see a full return to health services.
“We expect this to result in an increase in the number of claims we see for cancer across all products. The impacts on cancer claims will take much longer to become clear across all protection products.
“Delays in diagnosis and early intervention treatment are likely to contribute to more claims, where the cancer staging may be more advanced and ultimately harder to treat. Tragically, this may result in more cancer-related death claims.”
Debbie Kennedy, protection director at LV=, added that cancer remains the leading cause for critical illness claims and was in the top three for income protection.
“Limited early intervention treatment and delays in cancer diagnosis will make certain cases harder to treat, leading to a potential rise in cancer-related claims,” she said.
“We have not yet reached a peak of advanced cancer cases, and we expect this will take longer to be seen in claims experience across all protection products.
“It is important that claimants continue to receive timely financial and emotional support.”