LV= has reported a drop in critical illness claims for cancer of 45% during lockdown in April 2020.

The protection specialist has predicted that as a result of this decline, cancer claims will likely rise in 2021.

LV= attributed the drop to a fall in diagnoses and referrals while lockdown restrictions were in place.

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According to data collected by the protection firm, the 45% drop represents an estimated 2,700 fewer people diagnosed with cancer each week.

Cancer accounts for 20% of LV= income protection claims, 56% or critical illness and 40% of life assurance claims.

Despite the fall in claims, LV= paid more than £22.7m in cancer claims to 412 individuals and their families across income protection, critical illness and life insurance, between 1 January and 31 July 2020.

Debbie Kennedy, director of protection at LV=, said: “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.”