CANCER is the main reason for claims made for life insurance and serious illness cover, a break-down of payouts made by Irish Life shows.

The life company said it paid out €168m in life insurance and specified illness claims last year.

Cancer accounted for 44pc of life assurance claims and 58pc of specified illness cover claims to Irish Life in 2013.

More than half of life insurance claims for women were related to cancer and 41pc for men.

The figures come from an analysis of the claims book of Irish Life, and Canada Life. The Canadian company took over Irish Life last year.

The analysis shows that €112.4m was paid out for 1,714 life insurance claims last year.

Another €56.4m was paid out for 81 specified illness cover claims.

The average payment was €65,560 in respect of Life Insurance claims, and €69,638 for specified illness cover claims although the figures show wide variations in the size of claims settled.

Managing director of Irish Life retail Gerry Hassett said: “The scale of the life insurance and specified illness cover claims paid shows that it is crucially important for people to look after the interests of their dependants in the event of death and serious illness.”