Protection specialist LV= has predicted a surge in cancer diagnoses and claims in 2021 following screening backlogs.
Back in April when the coronavirus lockdown began, LV= saw a significant drop in critical illness claims, with 45% less recorded than the year before. According to Cancer Research UK, around 2,700 fewer people were diagnosed with cancer each week. In fact, cancer screening was paused in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and few invitations were sent out in England.
Furthermore, in May 2020, NHS England says there was a 47% drop in urgent cancer referrals compared to May 2019.
However, LV= has also warned of a potential jump in advanced stage cancer diagnoses and subsequent critical illness claims next year, caused by a backlog of screenings as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite the pandemic, LV= actually paid more than £22.7 million in cancer claims to 412 people and their families across income protection, critical illness and life insurance between January and July.
LV says cancer claims account for 20% of the firm’s income protection claims, 56% of critical illness claims and 40% of life assurance claims. Breast, bowel and lung cancer are the most commonly claimed for cancers, accounting for more than 40% of LV= claims.
Debbie Kennedy, director of protection at LV=, said the fall in critical illness claims since the start of the lockdown, as the NHS was forced to shut its doors or significantly reduce the number of non-Covid cancer services it offered between April and June, was worrying.
She added: “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.”
When you consider that lost GP appointments are putting people’s health in jeopardy and that NHS waiting lists are at their highest level since records began, the healthcare situation in England right now does not make for pleasant reading.
It is no wonder then that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has caused interest in protection products to rise.
While the pandemic will be over at some point, the fallout from it will be felt for a long time to come. Securing yours and your loved ones’ futures is always important, but it is magnified in times of uncertainty that we are all facing at the moment.