The latest from LV= who highlight the serious – and in some cases tragic – consequences of the NHS focus on Covid related activity becoming the number one priority since March this year. The rise in suicides, depression, stroke, heart conditions and many other illnesses in 2021 will also prove to be one of the most enduring legacies of the Covid pandemic.
In April 2020, LV= recorded a 45% fall in critical illness claims compared to 2019 figures. About 2,700* fewer people were diagnosed with cancer each week, and in May 2020 there was a 47%** fall in urgent cancer referrals compared to May 2019.
However, it is anticipating a rise in advanced stage cancer diagnoses and claims in 2021 caused by a backlog of screenings.
In spite of the fall in cancer claims through lockdown, figures from LV= latest Protection Pays report shows that from 1st Jan to 31st July 2020 LV= paid more than £22.7m in cancer claims to 412 individuals and their families across income protection, critical illness and life insurance.
Cancer accounts for 20% of LV= income protection claims, 56% or critical illness and 40% of life assurance claims. Breast, bowel and lung cancer are the most commonly claimed for, amounting to more than 40% of LV= claims.
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.
“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.“At LV=, we have adapted our claims processes making it easier for policyholders to claim and, through conversations with our claims assessors, access timely and helpful guidance, treatment and support for those diagnosed with cancer.”
LV= support services
LV= offers a range of support services to help policyholders when they need it most.
£1,000 cost of cancer diagnosis payment
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. This could be used to pay for things like child care, cover the cost of travel to hospital appointments or time away.
Enhanced critical illness insurance to include additional coverage for a wider range of early stage cancers
Support from Maggie’s cancer charity
At the start of the year, LV= started 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.
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.