Insurer Legal & General has urged its critical illness policy holders not to delay getting medical advice if they have any critical illness symptoms.
According to the company, its critical illness cover claims dropped by more than 40 per cent in April, with the UK under lockdown.
Given reports that those with serious illnesses and conditions have not been seeking medical advice in order to avoid coming into contact with the coronavirus, L&G has expressed concern that serious and critical conditions may be going undiagnosed and therefore untreated.
In May, the National Health Service urged people experiencing symptoms of a critical illness such as cancer to visit their GP and seek medical advice in line with government safety guidelines.
Medical practitioners raised concerns about a fall in the number of people visiting hospitals amid the Covid-19 outbreak and stressed that people should continue to use the service for any urgent medical needs.
Ali Crossely, managing director for distribution at L&G, said: "Our NHS is doing a fantastic job in supporting those people affected by Covid-19 and doctors and nurses across the country are truly heroes. We wholeheartedly back the advice given by Public Health England that the NHS is everybody’s service, and nobody should be forgotten.
“We are living through uncertain and unprecedented times, but while our attention is focused on the Covid-19 outbreak, there are still thousands of people each and every day experiencing symptoms of a critical illness such as cancer or heart disease.
“Nobody ever wants to be in a situation where they are suffering from a critical illness, and we understand that people will be particularly worried in the current crisis as they agonise over visiting their GP or hospital."
According to Legal & General’s statistics, 41 per cent fewer policyholders claimed on their critical illness insurance in April than the typical figure of around 300 claims a month.
These figures reflect recent research by The Health Foundation, which showed that face-to-face GP appointments in England have steadily declined since January 2020, falling nearly 6m by March.
Concerns have also been raised about a 62 per cent drop in urgent cancer referrals for NHS England, as announced by Dame Cally Palmer, chief executive of the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, in a recent Health and Social Care select committee hearing.
A cancer diagnosis was responsible for 66 per cent of Legal & General’s CIC claims in 2019, when the insurance giant paid out a total of £224m across its critical illness policies.
Legal & General has reiterated delaying visiting a GP to proceed with getting a diagnosis will have no impact on whether customers are able to claim.
However, the insurer is encouraging people with symptoms to visit their GP as soon as possible in order to catch any critical illnesses early and have the best chance of a successful prognosis.