Royal London has added a handful of new definitions to its critical illness cover, including key changes to child cover which it said will help it pay more claims faster.
The mutual insurer’s enhanced critical illness cover for children now has a different bacterial meningitis definition.
Royal London said this condition, which is rarer but more serious than viral meningitis, was the most common reason for a child critical illness claim in 2020.
The updated definition means permanent symptoms after infection, which can include hearing loss, epilepsy and loss of limbs, are no longer needed for a claim to be approved.
Some experts have said the number of claims which will be paid out for this condition should double as a result of the change.
Bacterial meningitis usually needs to be treated in hospital for at least a week, according to the NHS. Overall, it's estimated that up to one in every 10 cases of bacterial meningitis is fatal.
Alongside a change to this definition, Royal London has also broadened the definition of spina bifida. This happens when a baby’s spine does not develop properly, causing a gap in the spine.
The definition will now include meningocele, which happens when a sac full of liquid forms from the spinal column.
As well as making changes to its child cover, Royal London added two new full definitions to its adult cover for Crohn’s disease and Syringomelia (or Syringobulbia). The latter happens when fluid-filled cysts develop in the spinal cord.
It has also added two new heart-related conditions, after a heart attack was the second biggest reason for a critical illness claim in 2020, and a ‘severe sepsis’ definition.
Other definition changes include a reduction to the percentage surface area of the body/face which needs to be affected by third degree burns to make a claim, and a reduction in the need for a loss of hearing from greater than 95 to 70 decibels.
The changes came into effect today (March 21). “The addition of new conditions and updates to existing condition wordings have improved the cover offered by Royal London especially for children,” said Adam Higgs, head of research at Protection Guru.
“Removing the requirement for permanent neurological deficit with persisting symptoms from their bacterial meningitis definition is particularly positive for children’s cover as it should double the number of claims being paid for this condition.
“Whilst some of the changes are just bringing their wordings in line with the rest of the market and have minimal impact on the coverage, overall these changes are very positive and will improve Royal London’s standing compared to the most comprehensive plans in the market.”
Alan Lakey, director at CIExpert, added that Royal London “has made tremendous strides” in recent years, particularly with its “high quality” child cover.