Friends Provident claims performance

Friends received 624 claims last year; of these 578 (92.6%) were paid and 46 (7.4%) were declined. The percentage of claims declined due to non-disclosure fell by nearly half from 4% to 2.1%. Just 5.3% of claims were declined due to the definition not being met.

The statistics reveal an increase in the number of children's critical illness claims the company has received and paid since 2007. Children's claims now account for the fifth highest reason for claims.

Ed Stuart-Brown, head of protection at Friends Provident, said: "I am delighted that our percentage of claims paid has increased for the seventh year in a row. What these figures show is just how valuable critical illness benefits are, very often a financial lifeline in difficult times.

"The industry sometimes finds itself under attack for turning down a small proportion of claims, but the reality is we are in business to pay claims rather than to find reasons not to. Over 570 people benefited from a £34.5 million safety net last year."

The key points are:

• 92.6% of claims were paid

• Cancer, stroke and multiple sclerosis are some of the main reasons for claims

• The majority (68%) of claims paid were for cancer

• The average critical illness payout was just under £59,000

• The largest claim paid in 2009 was £600,000

• The average age of a claimant was 44

• The number of claims declined for non-disclosure fell by nearly half to 2.1% from 4%

• 1% of the total claims paid were proportionate payments

• 5.3% of claims were not paid due to the illness not meeting the definition (down from 8.7% in 2008)

• The average length a policy was in force before a claim was received was 5.5 years

• The youngest children's claimant was a baby girl aged just 9 months. The claim was for open heart surgery and the payment was £20,000, the maximum amount payable under a children's critical illness claim

• The youngest adult claimant was a female aged 26, who claimed for cancer and received over £81,000.