Zurich brings one-stop protection platform to market

But he intimated there was "much more to come", stressing the new platform's capability would enable the company to "evolve and develop" over time.

Zurich is phasing in the launch of the platform to advisers across the entire market throughout September, but early adopters of the service have given it an initial thumbs-up.

Emma Thomson, life office relationship director for Lifesearch, said: "Zurich’s new range is great news for customers. It will appeal to those who value the option to flex up or down, depending on where they’re at in their lives.  

"Specialist services such as in-house rehabilitation for income protection customers will also provide reassurance that professional help is at hand when they need it most."

Jon Nixon, head of protection for The Buy to Let Business, called it a "breath of fresh air" in an ever-changing market, while advisers working for Safeguard insurance services claimed it was "easy to use". 

According to Murray Baker, spokesman for Safeguard: "The back office staff love it as it gives total clarity and as the portal is self-serve, it means we don’t have to waste time hanging on the phone.”

The launch of the platform came as the Financial Services Consumer Panel (FSCP) issued a discussion paper, Understanding the Protection Gap, in which it found the protection market was "not producing good outcomes for consumers".

The paper called for simpler, more flexible products that were easier to understand, and strongly recommended more conditions to be covered, such as mental ill health. Coincidentally, Zurich's new-look CI cover includes mental illness within its 100 CI conditions.

The FSCP also suggested a greater attention to fintech developments could "help with providing further innovation, especially in the underwriting process".

Alan Lakey, founder of CIExpert, said he was impressed by the two policies which offer flexibility to match individual needs, and particularly the select version which will enable Zurich to "compete strongly with other top quality policies".

Mr Lakey said: "For many years Zurich has been content to offer a reasonably costed but average critical illness plan which relied as much on reputation and underwriting as it did the quality of its definitions.

"The new contracts confirm that Zurich is emerging as a serious player in both the premium-based and the quality led determinations."