Legal & General paid out a record 43 personal protection claims every day in the UK during 2020, totalling more than £763m.

This represents an increase of £32m from 2019.

A total of 15,855 customers and their families benefitted from an average pay out of £48,186 in 2020.

It has paid out more than £3.2bn in claims over the past five years across its Life, Critical Illness Cover, Terminal Illness Cover and Income Protection insurance products.

The life insurer paid 96% of personal protection claims and is working with partners and distributors to help minimise misrepresentation to support even more customers in 2021.

Of these, more than half of Life Insurance claims (53%) were misrepresentation of a condition related to the cause of death, while for Critical Illness claims, 73% of misrepresentations were about a condition related to the cause.

Misrepresentation around lifestyle – most commonly alcohol consumption and smoking – was the second most common reason for non-payment of claims.

This year’s claims data was heavily affected by the pandemic; one in ten death claims were COVID-19 related.

Legal & General paid out 99% of the 1,214 COVID-19 death claims at an average of £32,287 per claim and a combined total of more than £39m.

David Banks, director of claims and underwriting at Legal & General, said: “We are very aware that when we are unable to pay a claim in full – or at all – it can have a significant impact on our customers and their families.

“That is why we are working hard to improve the underwriting process and the questions we ask to make sure we are as transparent as possible about the information we need and most importantly, why we need it.

“We want to encourage intermediaries and distributors to make sure customers understand that we need to know about their general health and lifestyle to assess their risk and that is why we ask questions around pre-existing conditions, height, weight etc.

“Because, if there is a claim and misrepresentation is discovered, it can effect the claim pay-out, and have a potentially devastating impact on those customers relying on the money at their moment of need.

“We will therefore continue working with our partners, distributors and customers on ensuring all those involved in the process understand the consequences of misrepresenting their health so that we are able to pay more claims.”

“If 2020 has taught us anything it is that protection has never been more important. One in ten of all death claims were paid out because of COVID-19, something that wasn’t even on our radar 18 months ago, which further emphasises the benefits of insurance.

“It also reiterates the importance of seeking help; early intervention is key, which is why our IP protection includes help and support for customers to access as soon as they’re ill, because the sooner we know, the sooner we can help prevent their health problem from progressing.”