DORSET insurer LV= has paid out more than £12million in claims prompted by the coronavirus.

It said it had paid more than 1,400 life insurance, critical illness and income protection claims related to Covid-19, totalling £12.1m.

The virus was responsible for 42 per cent of the insurer’s death claims this January, with the number of admitted death claims up 40 per cent on the previous January.

The youngest person whose death led to a payout was 44 and the average age was 67.

LV= said its first Covid-related claim was paid on March 16, 2020, and the figures cover the period to March 11 this year.

LV= shows age and sex of customers who have died from Covid

The insurer has supported 332 policyholders with personal sick pay and income protection policies over Covid, paying out more than £146,000.

The most common occupations of claimants were nurses, care workers, carpenters and warehouse and factory workers.

Demand for mental health support through the company’s LV= Doctor Services has risen fivefold during the pandemic, with an 88 per cent rise in the use of remote GP services.

More than 250 LV= members were given payment breaks, which are offered a month at a time for up to six months during financial distress. Policy holders do not need to repay the missed premiums.

LV= research into pandemic finds one third are worse off

Debbie Kennedy, director of protection at LV=, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been devastating. It is having a huge impact on people and we expect to see the effects on claims lasting for several years. Not only have people been affected directly by the virus, millions of people around the UK are struggling with mental health issues caused by isolation, coping with lockdown and financial worries.

“I am a strong believer that protection insurance is not only about paying claims; it’s about supporting customers when they are at their most vulnerable and proving emotional and practical support when they need it.

“I believe we can be proud of how we’ve responded and how we’ve stepped forward to look after our members throughout the pandemic. We’ve been there for our claimants and their families in their hour of need, and supported our members through the emotional, financial and practical challenges thrown at them.”

LV=’s figures, contained in a report called Protection Pays – A Year of Covid, come as the Association of British Insurers revealed that the industry paid £202m to support the families who died because of the coronavirus last year.

The total equates to £553,000 of payments every day.

Yvonne Braun, the association’s director of long-term savings and protection, said: “No-one will have been affected by the pandemic more than the families of those who have tragically died due to Covid.

“While no amount of money can ever replace a life, insurers have and continue to do everything they possibly can to help families cope financially through these distressing and worrying times.”