Aviva’s income protection cover provided payments totalling more than £29.5m in 2011.

Aviva’s claims data shows the range of conditions that prevented or restricted customers from working last year, and the length of time some Aviva customers have to wait for their claim to be processed.

Psychiatric conditions were the most common reason for claim last year, with more than one in four income protection claims paid for this reason.

Just over a fifth of claims were for orthopaedic conditions, which also account for one of the longest average periods of time in claim, at 10 years.

The third most common condition claimed for is neurological, with 18 per cent of claimants unable to work for this reason.

The data also showed of the claims relating to psychiatric conditions in 2011, moderate depression was the most common, with nearly a third of psychiatric claims made for this reason.

Anxiety was cited for 15 per cent of psychiatric claims, and stress for 12 per cent.

Aviva stated the average age for the start of a claim through disability was surprisingly low at 44-years-old, and nearly half of individual income protection customers currently receiving benefit have been claiming for more than 10 years.

The longest current claim is for a corporate customer who had to give up work 36 years ago as a fitter due to an orthopaedic condition.

Aviva paid more than 91 per cent of income protection claims in 2011 and last month announced it has significantly changed its income protection solutions offering to make cover more affordable for a wider range of customers.

Another insurer, Exeter Family Friendly, has urged the industry to continue to push for an “open and transparent approach to claims”, stating that it is important to the long-term success of the industry that providers continue to push for an open and transparent approach to claims.

Will Kentish, head of income protection at Aviva UK Health said: “We want to help customers understand the importance and real benefit of protecting their income by releasing this data.

“The figures show just how young the typical age can be for loss of income due to injury or illness, and just how long this can last.

“As the government’s changes in employment support allowance take effect, we’d encourage people to consider how they can ensure a regular income for as long as they would need, if they were prevented or restricted from working due to illness or injury.”

Aviva is also working with the industry to agree a consistent approach to reporting income protection claims pay-out rates.