Life insurance, critical illness and income protection claims caused by coronavirus have totalled £12.1m since the start of the pandemic, according to LV=.

The protection specialist has paid more than 1,400 pandemic-related claims.

For COVID death claims, the youngest claimant was 44 years old, with an average age of claimants being 67 years.

Coronavirus was responsible for 42% of all LV= death claims in January 2021, with the number of admitted death claims 40% higher than in January 2020.

LV= has supported 332 COVID-related claims for policyholders with personal sick pay and income protection policies, paying out over £146,000.

Most common occupations of claimants were nurses, care workers, carpenters, warehouse and factory workers.

Demand for LV= non-claim related mental health support, through LV= Doctor Services has risen five-fold during the pandemic, with an 88% rise in use of remote GP services.

More than 250 members have been supported through the LV= payment break option.

This is funded through the LV= Member Support Fund; payment breaks are offered a month at a time, for up to six months to members experiencing financial distress.

Policyholders are still able to claim during a payment break, and there is no requirement to repay missed premiums.

Debbie Kennedy, director of protection at LV=, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating.

“It is having a huge impact on people and we expect to see the effects on claims lasting for several years.

“Not only have people been affected directly by the virus, millions of people around the UK are struggling with mental health issues caused by isolation, coping with lockdown and financial worries.

“I am a strong believer that protection insurance is not only about paying claims; it’s about supporting customers when they are at their most vulnerable and proving emotional and practical support when they need it.

“I believe we can be proud of how we’ve responded and how we’ve stepped forward to look after our members throughout the pandemic.

“We’ve been there for our claimants and their families in their hour of need, and supported our members through the emotional, financial and practical challenges thrown at them.”