Protection specialist LV= has paid over £15m in cancer-related protection claims to more than 200 families in the first half of 2021*.
Now it is preparing for a rise in cancer-related protection claims in the second half of the year, following reduced access to cancer screenings and urgent GP referrals during the coronavirus pandemic.
The figures are included in LV=’s latest Protection Pays report. It reveals that breast, bowel, lung and prostate cancers were the most common reasons to claim. The highest critical illness claim was £367,000. The youngest claimant was 29 and the average age of critical illness claimants is 52.
Figures from Cancer Research UK show that roughly 45,000 fewer cancer patients started treatment between April 2020 to March 2021 compared to the previous year.
Data from the LV= Wealth and Wellbeing Monitor, a quarterly survey of 4,000 UK consumers, shows that 3.7 million people (7%) said that they or a family member had experienced delays to medical diagnosis, operation or treatment. For women, this rises to one in ten.
Last year, LV= predicted a surge in advanced stage cancer diagnoses in 2021 because of a slowdown in cancer screenings. This will likely impact protection claims data once the backlog currently faced by the NHS is cleared and more cases are detected.
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. Similarly, LV= recorded a 45% drop in critical illness claims compared to figures from February 2020.
In 2021 to date, the amount of cancer claims that LV= paid out to policyholders were mainly in line with 2020 figures for the same period.**.
“Cancer remains the leading cause for critical illness claims and top three for income protection.
Although the NHS is working to overcome delays caused by the Covid outbreak, the reduction of cancer referrals will continue to impact protection claims and the industry as a whole. 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.
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. LV= has continued to be flexible, going beyond simply paying a claim to provide valuable support services to customers and their families.”
LV= offers a range of support services to help policyholders when they need it most.
£1,000 cost of cancer diagnosis payment (available through LV= Life and Critical Illness cover)
LV=’s cost of diagnosis of cancer payment helps customers with the immediate financial costs incurred while the claim is being processed. This is an additional payment which doesn’t affect the main cover benefit and is paid upon receiving medical evidence of the diagnosis if it’s a cancer covered by the policy. This could be used to pay for things like child care, cover the cost of travel to hospital appointments or time away.
LV= Life and Critical Illness insurance includes additional coverage for a wide range of early stage cancers.
Support from Maggie’s cancer charity. Since 2020, LV= has been working with Maggie’s, a charity offering emotional and practical support for people living with cancer.
Second opinion gives access to specialists to review diagnosis, clarify unanswered questions and help understand treatment options.
LV= Doctor Services (included as standard on all protection policies) gives access to six expert medical services, all available through a convenient app including: — Remote GP 24/7 – appointments around the clock for every day health concerns through to serious conditions. The service is, for example, used for enquiries about skin conditions and moles. Doctor Services has now been extended to include spouses and partners of policyholders.
16-23 member help line. The news of a cancer diagnosis can be hard to deliver to children. Through our 16-23 helpline, we're able to support children in full-time education as they come to terms with their parent's cancer diagnosis and any worries they might have for their future.
Member Support Fund
Those in exceptionally hard circumstances can apply for additional financial support through the LV= Member Support Fund.
LV= Member Care Line (included as standard on all protection policies) – Free and unlimited access to a 24/7 Member Care Line, including health and counselling services. This is operated by qualified professionals who can provide expert support and guidance when it's needed most. This could include advice on their medical condition, coping with the loss of a loved one or coming to terms with their medical diagnosis.