Scottish Widows has launched a simplified protection range targeted at the mortgage market.
The ‘Plan and Protect’ range offers life, critical illness and life and critical illness combined products, with premiums starting at £5 a month.
Scottish Widows stated it wanted to make mortgage protection more accessible. However, the new products will only be available to customers in Lloyds Banking Group’s branches.
Scottish Widows also simplified its application process to save customers time, with seven health and lifestyle questions giving customers an instant cover decision in less than half an hour.
The range has been trialled across the Halifax branch network since October 2018 and will now be rolled out to more than 1300 mortgage and protection advisers across the wider Halifax, Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland branches.
Scott Cadger, head of protection underwriting and claims strategy at Scottish Widows, said the range was designed to leverage the reach and scale of Lloyds Banking Group to help "transform the protection market".
He said: "We’ve put a lot of energy into research, speaking to customers and advisers to understand their needs and pain points.
"We’ve created a straightforward product, transparent terms and conditions and a simple process that provides an instant decision to every customer, while providing value for money cover."
Mr Cadger added: "Our mortgage will often be the biggest financial commitment we’ll ever make, so having the right cover in place means customers can trust us to be there for them and focus on their health and wellbeing – instead of worrying about keeping a roof over their heads."
Alan Lakey, director at CIExpert, said Scottish Widows had aimed for simplicity in the range, resulting in a 12-page brochure and an 8-page key facts document in comparison with denser paperwork elsewhere in the market.
But he noted this had resulted in a reduction to the numbers of conditions covered and exclusion of conditions that were staples of the typical critical illness cover plan, such as blindness, coma and deafness.
He said: "The search for an easily understood plan has necessitated stripping out options and also a reduction to the numbers of conditions covered.
"This translates into terminal illness cover, guaranteed insurability options and child cover not being included.
"This plan has been designed for use by branch advisers and to be easily understood by both them and potential customers, which should pay dividends because we are aware of many advisers that refuse to offer critical illness plans due to the complexity.
"Whether such a design could operate effectively in the adviser market is doubtful but Scottish Widows is seeking to increase the size of the cake which should benefit the industry as a whole - many consumers require a graduated introduction to the concept and progress from there.
"Scottish Widows is to be congratulated on the design of a ‘simple’ critical illness design, something the ABI told us was impossible."