Critical illness claims for cancer are expected to soar in 2021 after a 45 per cent fall in claims during lockdown in April 2020.
Protection provider LV= says a fall in diagnoses and referrals is expected to lead to rise in claims in 2021.
In April 2020 the provider recorded a 45 per cent fall in critical illness claims compared to 2019 figures. About 2,700 fewer people were diagnosed with cancer each week, according to Cancer Research, and in May 2020 there was a 47 per cent fall in urgent cancer referrals compared to May 2019, according to NHS England.
LV= says a rise in advanced stage cancer diagnoses and claims in 2021 may be caused by a backlog of screenings.
Cancer accounts for 20 per cent of LV= income protection claims, 56 per cent of critical illness and 40 per cent of life assurance claims. Breast, bowel and lung cancer are the most commonly claimed for, amounting to more than 40 per cent of LV= claims,
LV= director of protection Debbie Kennedy says: “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.”