£1 billion in claims payments helped Aviva individual protection customers in 2020

Grandad reading to two granddaughters

98.2% of all claims received were paid

Aviva paid more than £1 billion last year to its individual protection customers and their families – helping more than 50,000 families in their hour of need. This is equivalent to £2.85 million being paid out every day. 

The UK’s largest insurer1 made its highest ever pay-out to customers claiming on life insurance, critical illness cover and income protection policies and of all claims that were received, fewer than 2 in every 100 were declined.

The figure includes £38.9 million paid out for claims relating to the impact of COVID-19, with the majority of claims paid to bereaved families on life insurance policies. Other claims paid included income protection payments and rehabilitation support for the effects of long Covid.

Jacqueline Kerwood, Claims Manager at Aviva, said:

"Behind every claim we know there is an individual most likely going through the worst time of their lives and our focus is always to support them with empathy, respect and care."

“In a year like no other, the most important outcome for Aviva is that we were there to help more than 50,000 individual protection customers and their families.  We are proud of the scale of what we do, but behind every claim we know there is an individual most likely going through the worst time of their lives and our focus is always to support them with empathy, respect and care.

“We continue to challenge ourselves to introduce new initiatives that will help our customers during these times, to speed up claims, make the process simpler, and to add thoughtful gestures such as the gifts we send to families through ‘Project Teddy’ for children claiming on critical illness.”

Critical illness claims

Fewer critical illness2 claims were received in 2020 than previous years, with £314 million paid out to around 4,300 customers, a 13% drop in volume compared to 2019.  With COVID-19 putting the  NHS under extreme pressure, resulting in delays in NHS screening, diagnosis and treatment, this was evident in critical illness claims for cancer.  In 2020, cancer claims accounted for 57% of claims, lower than previous years where cancer has accounted for more than 60% of Aviva’s claims experience.

Aviva paid 92.7% of all critical illness claims received.  Fewer than 6 in every 100 claims received were declined because the policy terms and conditions were not met and fewer than 2 in every 100 claims declined due to misrepresentation of relevant health and lifestyle information.

Although cancer claims were down year-on-year, cancer remained the most common reason for claim, accounting for 78% of all claims by women and 49% for men.

Life Insurance claims

Overall, more than £682 million was paid out on life insurance, Over 50s and Whole of Life plans1, with 42,000 claims where the customer had died or met the terminal illness benefit definition. 99.3% of all claims were paid. 

Fewer than 4 in every 1,000 claims made were declined due to misrepresentation of relevant health and lifestyle information and fewer than 3 in every 1,000 were declined as the terms and conditions of the policy were not met.

Around 2,150 claims were for deaths due to COVID-19, the fourth most common reason for claim at 4.7% of all claims. Cancer remained the most common reason (28%), followed by cardiovascular illness (12%) and respiratory illness (5%).

Income protection claims

Around 4,400 claims were paid on income protection policies, with £44.7 million of benefits paid to customers unable to work due to illness or injury.  Just over 1,650 of these were new claims accepted, the equivalent to 87.5% of new claims made.

The average age of customers starting a claim was 43 for men and 40 for women, with musculoskeletal conditions the most common reason for new claims in 2020, at 30%. Mental health accounted for 24% of new claims, followed by cancer at 9%.

2020 also saw Aviva providing more rehabilitation support to individual income protection customers than in previous years. Through the support of our in-house rehabilitation team,  referring to clinical support for counselling, physiotherapy and other services where appropriate, nearly three-quarters (73%) of all rehabilitation cases either returned to or remained at work.

12.5% of new claims received were declined. Just over 6 in every 100 claims received were declined for misrepresentation of relevant health and lifestyle information and just over 6 in every 100 were declined as the terms and conditions of the policy were not met.

Total individual protection claims paid in 2020


Number of claims paid

Value of claims paid

% of claims paid

Life insurance

(inc: terminal illness benefit)







Critical illness

(inc Childrens critical illness + total permanent disability)








Income protection








Fracture cover









1.       Aviva has a 23% share of the UK life and savings market, Association of British Insurers (ABI), 12 months to end Q320.

2.       Aviva data for Critical Illness claims includes including childrens’ critical illness and total permanent disability.

3.       Aviva data for Life insurance claims in 2020 includes a book of Over 50s and Whole of Life policies that has not previously been included in our annual published claims data.

Media Enquiries

Melissa Loughran

Senior Media Relations Manager

Notes to editors:

  • We are the UK's leading diversified insurer and we operate in the UK, Ireland and Canada. We also have international investments in India and China.
  • We help our 19.2 million (as at 31 December 2023) customers make the most out of life, plan for the future, and have the confidence that if things go wrong we’ll be there to put it right.
  • We have been taking care of people for more than 325 years, in line with our purpose of being ‘with you today, for a better tomorrow’. In 2023, we paid £25.6 billion in claims and benefits to our customers.
  • In 2021, we announced our ambition to become Net Zero by 2040, the first major insurance company in the world to do so. We are aiming to have Net Zero carbon emissions from Aviva’s operations and supply chain by 2030. While we are working towards our sustainability ambitions, we recognise that while we have control over Aviva’s operations and influence on our supply chain, when it comes to decarbonising the economy in which we operate and invest, Aviva is one part of a far larger global ecosystem. There are also limits to our ability to influence other organisations and governments. Nevertheless, we remain focused on the task and are committed to playing our part in the collective effort to enable the global transition. Find out more about our climate goals at www.aviva.com/climate-goals and our sustainability ambition and action at www.aviva.com/sustainability
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