The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has rubbished reports that insurers pay out less than 50% of premium income in claims for some types of cover.

The Sunday Times, relying on what it called “secret industry figures”, said that insurers kept 55% of mortgage protection insurance premiums and 50% of critical illness and income protection insurance premiums.

Suzanne Moore of the ABI said the figures “look at the amount paid out in claims and don't look at the insurers' overheads. There are different factors at play across different classes of insurance. Certain types of insurance are more expensive to sell.

“It doesn't say where it got its figures from, it is very vague.” Moore said where the ABI did have figures they differed from those given by the paper.

The ABI has figures for motor and household insurance. These showed that insurers paid out at least as much as they took in premiums for both types of insurance, Moore said. The paper said insurers got to keep 25% to 35% in each case.

The report also said insurers often relied on small print to avoid paying out on critical illness policies, refusing to pay if certain medical techniques were used.

The ABI said that critical illness cover provided protection for a list of quite specific conditions. It added: “If there are specific cases where people believe they should have had a payout then that needs to be followed up with the relevant insurer.”