Jeff Prestridge  

Onwards and upwards

Jeff Prestridge

Jeff Prestridge

On a personal level, I was intrigued to see the change on the definition relating to low-grade prostate cancer (which I have).

Guardian has now removed the exclusion for those whose prostate cancer is ‘just’ under active surveillance. It means my cancer, excluded last year, would be now covered and I would be able to make a claim – if I had one of its policies.

Sadly, Guardian’s innovative lead is not being followed. Indeed, according to Alan Lakey, director of critical illness policy scrutineer CIExpert, many protection insurance rivals believe Guardian’s innovation is  ‘unsustainable’. 

“Some of the downgrades support this view,” he adds. “However, it is still an extremely good plan”.

I hope it is sustainable because it represents progress. It should be the norm, not the exception.

Carrying on the theme of necessities, mothers and innovation, the analytical tools now available to advisers in the protection insurance world are better than ever.

A few days ago, Mr Lakey gave me a guided online tour of CIExpert.

It is an astonishing database, one that allows advisers to identify the most effective critical illness policy according to a client’s particular circumstances (date of birth, smoker or non-smoker, amount of cover required, term and type, and children – even children planned).

A tool that provides claims data on nearly all insurers apart from a couple of renegades such as Phoenix and ReAssure. A database that allows advisers to drill down to the nitty gritty of individual policies, thereby enabling them (for example) to compare one insurer’s definition of accidental hospitalisation against another and discover one is 10 times better than the other.

A database that acknowledges the different critical illness needs of males and females – that more females in percentage terms claim for cancer illnesses while men are more likely to claim for heart attacks than women.

If only such forensic analysis was available in the investment funds industry then maybe tens of thousands of investors could have averted the Woodford debacle.

Jeff Prestridge is personal finance editor of The Mail on Sunday