The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has explained what it expects providers to do to assist consumers to understand and compare critical illness polices.
The 29-page Guide to minimum standards for critical illness cover sets out a minimum definition of each of the three core conditions that must be included for a product to be described as critical illness insurance.
These conditions are cancer, heart attack and stroke.
It also provides minimum definitions for further conditions which may be included in critical illness cover such as Alzeimer’s disease, benign brain tumour and blindness.
It also provides standard definitions for common exclusions so that, when they are included in critical illness policies, they must adopt the form specified in the guide.
The guide replaces the 2014 version of the ABI's statement of best practice for critical illness insurance cover.
To a large extent, the guide replicates what was in the statement but where there are changes, ABI members are encouraged to implement any changes to their products as soon as possible but, in any event, they must do so by 1 February 2019.
Alan Lakey, director at Hertfordshire-based Highclere and CI Expert, said: "This is the seventh version of the ABI publication, although in previous years it was called statement of best practice.
"There is a lot of sense in trying to clarify wordings and introduce minimum standards however the scope is limited.
"Firstly, they provide 21 definitions when there are over 100 critical illness conditions in use. This deficit reduces the effectiveness.
"Secondly, many companies already go beyond the model wordings making the exercise somewhat redundant for all but the least comprehensive plans.
"While the original statement of best practice, in 1999, provided welcome clarity the scope of today's plans means that this type of publication is no longer required as market forces dictate the need for quality rather than the ABI big stick.
"There is a strong argument in favour of ending the endorsement of minimum wordings as this may muddy the waters as it appears to have done with the Financial Ombudsman Service which still refers to the 2014 statement of best practice within the critical illness section of its site."