The number of claims on critical illness insurance policies declined by providers has dropped significantly, according to one group. Insurer Standard Life has published figures reflecting critical illness claims in 2006 which suggests that declined claims have fallen in number to around 7.5 per cent. More than three fifths (64 per cent) of claimants on critical illness terms were aged between 40 and 59, the figures revealed, with only three per cent of claimants aged over 60. And while the average claim value for the year stood at £52,138, the largest payment reached £500,000. Mick James, protection marketing manager for Standard Life Assurance, said: “There is often a stigma associated with critical illness plans that they don’t pay out, yet we paid over 90 per cent of our customer claims last year. “These people did not need the added worry of financial stress at a time when their health needs to be their top priority.” Mr James stopped short of stating that the reduction in the number of declined claims represented the start of a trend, although he stated that efforts were being made to increase the clarity of forms and level of warnings about disclosure. Of the 7.5 per cent of claims denied by the firm last year, 3.3 per cent were declined as they did not comply with the definitions of the policy while 4.2 per cent were declined because claimants failed to disclose all relevant information. It is hoped that consumers across the UK will be able to enjoy increased clarity regarding their critical illness policies from today as the Association of British Insurers’ new definitions of critical illness cover are implemented.