In an industry that has not always been noted for change and innovation, 2013 in the protection industry saw providers making more changes to their critical illness (CI) products than ever before.
The now seemingly simple concept of a race to add conditions a policy will pay out on has transformed into a race to add ABI+ definitions, introduce partial payments where a policy may previously not have paid out, and to cover cancer more comprehensively.
Alan Lakey, partner at Highclere Financial Services and founder of protection website CI Expert, agrees: “2013 was the busiest year ever for companies upgrading their plans and competing on quality. The changes were 99% positive and this can only be good news for consumers and advisers.
“For consumers it is better because the plans are more comprehensive than before and advisers because it enables them to highlight the benefits of advice and to focus on value over price.”
Here we look at the ten most significant changes in the critical illness market in 2013.
1. Skandia returned to the CI market
After exiting the CI market in 2010 to concentrate on its investment solutions, Skandia re-entered the CI market in April 2013 to much industry applause. Citing the fact that advisers are re-prioritising protection following the introduction of the RDR and wanting more product choice for their clients, its focus was clearly set out as a high-net-worth offering competing on quality.
Skandia launched a product covering 56 CI conditions, 18 of which use ABI + definitions, and including children’s cover from birth to age 21, with joint life policies paying out double on children’s claims. Skandia also introduced Serious Accident Benefit within the plan, which pays out up to £25,000 following an accident that hospitalises clients for 28 days.
As a previous high quality provider of critical illness plans their re-entry into the market was wholeheartedly welcomed, with adviser research site CI Expert saying the new product regularly came out at the top of its comparison tables.
Since launch, Skandia has further enhanced its CI plan and it now also includes 13 partial payment conditions. The firm has backdated all recent upgrades to customers who have taken out a product since the new plan launched in April 2013.
2. Heart attack claims made easier
A host of insurers updated their policy definitions to make it easier for people to make a claim for a heart attack. Providers were applauded for removing the need for troponin to reach a specific raised level for a claim to be successfully paid, and instead simply requiring enzyme levels to be raised for a paid claim, Some even removed the need to rely on enzyme levels altogether.
This moves the industry back to the more encompassing heart attack CI definitions commonly used before changes were made to ABI standard definitions in 2007. The companies noted to have done good work in this area in 2013 include Beagle Street, Ageas, Aviva, HSBC, PruProtect and Scottish Provident.