Friends Life CI changes could hit later claims

Friends Life CI changes could hit later claims

A small number of people could be unable to make a second claim for a different early stage cancer as a result of improvements to Friends Life’s Critical Illness Cover.

In March, Friends Life, now owned by Aviva, upgraded its CI cover with a simplified cancer definition, increased and standardised payments and the option to add global treatment in association with Best Doctors for £4 extra a month.

It introduced a less-advanced cancer additional payment definition, which will cover 20 specific types of cancer, a move which several advisers, such as Alan Lakey, founder of Herts-based CI Expert and Tom Conner, director of East Sussex-based Drewberry Insurance, said was welcome.

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However, Mr Lakey said there may be an unintended consequence to creating this less-advanced definition, in that several CI conditions previously treated separately are now brought under one definition. These include early-stage breast cancer and carcinoma in situ of the cervix uteri.

He said: “Anyone with a pre-March 2015 plan may find that they get an early-stage breast cancer, recover and get a payout. Under the old plan, if they later got carcinoma in situ, they could get another payout. However, this will not happen now.”

CI Expert research revealed that 3,000 women between 25 and 65 get early-stage breast cancer a year. Although it is more tricky to put a number on the women who get carcinoma in situ and are treated each year, it is roughly 20,000.

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Ben Moss of Friends Life said: “With our Critical Illness enhancements we wanted increase our coverage for cancer and also ensure it is as clear as possible to customers when they would be able to make a claim. We did this by offering an additional payment for 20 less advanced cancers, the most comprehensive cover on the market. If a customer claims for a less advanced cancer and receives an additional payment they will still be eligible for a full payout if they were unfortunate enough to go on and develop a more advanced cancer.

“The likelihood of a customer needing to make two separate claims for two different less advanced cancers is extremely low. Because of the increase to the number of less advanced cancers we now cover we fully expect to pay out more claims, supporting our customers when they need it most.”