For a family income benefit (life only) policy, Andrew Jenkinson, director at Drewberry, says the products across the providers are all very similar as it is a straight forward contract paying out on death.
When including critical illness cover, Mr Jenkinson says it becomes more complex to make comparisons as the type of illness and number of illnesses covered by policies can vary from one insurer to the next.
The quality of the FIB plan can be determined by factors similar to providing clients advice for any type of protection, says Jennifer Gilchrist, senior product development manager with Bright Grey.
For critical illness cover it could be the comprehensiveness of the critical illness definitions, Ms Gilchrist points out.
The ability to provide cover that increases annually so any claim payment keeps track with inflation and the flexibility of the policy options that allows FIB cover to be commuted to a lump sum should also be considered, Ms Gilchrist adds.
She says advisers should also explore if the cover can be changed in the future to accommodate lifestyle changes, for example, moving home and having children. The company behind the cover should also be examined and the track record in paying claims looked at, Ms Gilchrist says.
She says: “Because protection shouldn’t be just about paying out, advisers should look at the added value benefits which are included for the client and their family.”
Emma Thomson, life office relationship director at Lifesearch, says advisers need to be careful about what they are recommending to their clients. Ms Thomson says advisers should base their advice on product features rather than just price.
She says: “Vitality Life offers some unique features to make the product more appealing to those clients who are seduced by the idea of a windfall lump sum, and if critical illness cover is being considered, then it is important to be certain what conditions are being covered.”
The most important thing is to check the terms and conditions of an insurer’s product, agrees Steve Casey, head of marketing and propositions at AIG Life.
Some companies inflation-link payments throughout the life of the insurance while others do not, he points out.
It is also worth opting for FIB which still pays out within the last 12 months of the life of the insurance if the insured person is terminally ill and has less than 12 months to live, Mr Casey says.
He points out all providers are different and some insurers will not pay out if the insurance has less than 12 months to run. Mr Casey also agrees that advisers should take a look at the added-value benefits the family could use too.
Access to a second opinion medical service, for example, could be included as part of the deal by some providers to provide medical advice on diagnoses and treatment if an immediate member of family suffers from a medical condition, he points out.