Scottish Widows has published its protection claims statistics, which show that more than £219 million was paid out in life and critical illness claims in 2015, equating to an average of more than £4 million per week.
The company paid out just under 99% (98.9%) of life claims, remaining in line with the claims paid in 2014.
Scottish Widows paid 90.5% of critical illness claims, an increase of 0.9% compared with 2014. The total number of claims paid for life cover was 7,649 and for critical illness it was 1,990.
Of the declined life claims, 0.89% were due to mis-representation and 0.26% due to the definition of terminal illness not being met. Out of the declined critical illness claims, 6.7% were due to the definition not being met and 2.9% were due to mis-representation.
A total of 9,639 individuals and their families were helped with the impact of critical illness or death.
Since January 2000 the total combined amount Scottish Widows has paid out to its customers across both life and critical illness claims stands at £2.1 billion.
The figures are based on the combined number of critical illness and life cover claims paid out on Scottish Widows plc and St Andrew's Life Assurance plc plans from January 2000 to December 2015.
Scottish Widows' figures were compiled using the ABI guidance for calculating claims statistics.
Life claims - key statistics:
• The total amount paid out in life claims was £140.6 million, with £15.5 million paid in terminal illness claims.
• 54% of all claims from women were as a result of cancer, compared with 43% of men.
• Heart related claims accounted for 23% of cases for men and 12% of cases for women.
• The average policy duration at claim stage was eight years and the average age of people who claimed was 58.6 years.
• The average size of term claim paid was £42,805, the highest individual claim was £500,000 and 61% of claims were from men.
Critical illness - key statistics:
• The total amount paid out in critical illness claims was £79.1 million.
• The three main reasons for women making a claim remain cancer (74%, of which 50% were due to breast cancer), stroke (6%) and multiple sclerosis (6%).
• Among men, 52% of claims made were for cancer, 22% for a heart attack and 10% for stroke.
• The average size of claim paid was £35,573 and the highest individual claim was £592,527.
• The average period in force before a claim was 5.4 years and the average age of people who claimed, excluding children's claims, was 49.
• Women accounted for more than 53% of all claims.
Scott Cadger, head of underwriting and claims strategy at Scottish Widows said:
"In 2015 we paid out more than £4 million every single week in life and critical illness claims, helping each one of the 9,639 individuals who claimed, and their families, to cope with the financial and emotional impact of a death or serious illness. This demonstrates the true value of taking out appropriate cover.
"We're committed to paying as many claims as possible and as quickly as possible in order to help our customers when they're at their most vulnerable. We've worked with charities and industry experts to speed up our time taken to pay claims by more than 35% over a period of eighteen months."
"As an industry we need to continue supporting initiatives such as the Seven Families campaign, and to make more people aware of the need for financial protection, as too few take out cover. As result, millions of families are exposed to potential hardship should the unthinkable happen without having any safety net in place."