£1.1bn in individual protection claims helped more than 53,700 customers and families in 2021

Father and child colouring on living room floor

£69m of claims paid related to the continuing impact of COVID-19

Aviva’s annual Individual Protection Claims Report reveals that more than 53,700 customers and their families were helped financially last year when they claimed on their individual protection policy.

A total of £1,094,919,735 was paid out in 2021 across individual critical illness, life insurance and income protection policies with 98.1% of all claims received being settled.

The scale of the payout, equivalent to around £3m in payments made to customers every day, highlights the crucial support that protection insurance provides for tens of thousands of UK households.

In the last five years, Aviva has paid out around £5bn across more than 187,000 individual protection claims, with 97.7% of all claims paid.

Jacqueline Kerwood, Claims Philosophy Manager at Aviva, said:

“2021 was a year when society had to manage the continuing impacts of COVID-19 whilst trying to get back to normal life, all against a backdrop of continued pressure on the NHS, rising rates of mental health issues and emerging increases in the cost of living.

“We saw some of these impacts in our protection claims experience, with mental health claims continuing to be prominent on income protection alongside a rise in claims for long covid. Life insurance claims due to COVID-19 also continued, although thankfully these did reduce considerably over the year as the vaccine rolled out.

“Fewer critical illness claims were presented to us than before the pandemic due to delays in diagnosis and treatment of serious conditions, but we did see claims numbers increase on the previous year.

“Helping more than 53,700 families with payouts last year highlights the real financial vulnerability that many households without cover could face if they were unfortunate enough to experience significant illness or the loss of a loved one. This vulnerability will sadly only be exacerbated by today’s cost of living crisis and never has it been as important to have and keep some protection insurance in place.”

Impact of COVID-19

Individual protection claims related to COVID-19 continued in 2021, with the majority of the £68.9m paid out being death claims. Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 until the end of 2021, Aviva has paid out more than £107.8m in COVID-19 related individual protection claims, predominantly on life insurance and income protection claims.

Around 2,000 death claims due to COVID-19 were paid last year, totalling £68.5m. The disease became the third most common reason for a life insurance claim last year, but following the vaccine roll out claims due to COVID-19 dropped considerably across all age groups as the year progressed.

Aviva also supported larger numbers of individual income protection customers impacted by COVID-19 than in 2020, as long covid symptoms became more prevalent. Just over £376,000 in benefit payments were made last year to support customers unable to work due to the syndrome.

Following the introduction of a specialist long covid income protection claims pathway, nine in 10 (91%) of individual income protection customers who received support for long covid returned to work last year.  Rehab support specifically for long covid accounted for 12% of all rehab support provided in 2021.

Life insurance claims (including terminal illness benefit)

Last year Aviva accepted 99.4% of all life insurance claims, helping just over 43,900 customers and their families with life insurance and terminal illness benefit payments. More than £731.6m was paid in claims.

Cancer remained the most common reason for claim at 36.6% of all claims, followed by Cardiovascular (19.5%), COVID-19 (11.8%) and Respiratory (7.9%). COVID-19 was the third most common reason for claim for customers aged 40-69.

Aviva Life Insurance (inc. terminal illness benefit) claims paid by age, 2021

Most common reason for claim by age band




Under 30


Accident and cancer




Accident and Cardiovascular













Over 70




Critical illness claims (including children’s benefit and total permanent disability)

£309.7m was paid out for critical illness claims last year, including £4.7m in children’s benefit, with 92.4% of all claims received being settled. The average adult claim was £73,969.

The number of critical illness claims paid increased from 2020, but remained lower than before the pandemic as the impact of delays in medical diagnosis and treatment continue to show in claims received. 4,367 claims were paid in 2021, compared to 4,294 in 2020 and 4,957 in 2019.

Of the 7.6% of claims declined, 5.5% was because the definitions in the policy were not met while 1.8% was because the customer misrepresented relevant health and lifestyle information during the policy application.

The three big causes for critical illness claim continue to be cancer (59%), heart attack (11%) and stroke (7%).

Income protection

4,300 individual income protection customers had claims accepted during 2021, with a total of £51.2m paid out to them in benefit payments.

85.4% of all new claims were paid1. 6.7% of new claims were declined due to the customer misrepresenting relevant health and lifestyle information, 4.7% were declined for other reasons and 3.2% declined as the policy conditions had not been met.

Almost a third (32%) of customers paid last year were under the age of 40 when Aviva first paid their claim, with the average age of claim lower for women at age 42 than men at age 44.

Musculoskeletal conditions remain the largest cause for new claims at 37% of all claims, followed by mental health at 21%, other conditions at 12% and cancer at 11%.

Aviva’s income protection claims team also worked with customers to identify where it was appropriate to help them get back to work through our rehabilitation support services. Last year, around eight in 10 customers (78%) who had rehabilitation support returned to work.

Total Aviva individual protection claims paid in 2021


Number of claims paid

Value of claims paid

% of claims paid

Life insurance

(inc: terminal illness benefit)




Critical illness

(inc: Children’s Benefit+TPD)




Income protection




Fracture cover




Hospital and trauma cover








Download the Individual protection claims report



1 The individual income protection claims data shown is for new claims assessed in 2021. An alternative reporting method used by the industry includes all claims where a payment is made during the year, which for Aviva during 2021 is: 4,300 claims and 93.9% of all claims paid.

Media Enquiries

Melissa Loughran

Senior Media Relations Manager

Fiona Murphy

Protection, Health and Regulation

Notes to editors:

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