Guardian’s new plan is a combined life and critical illness (CI) cover plan designed to make having life and CI cover less expensive. There are also a number of enhancements made to the CI proposition for existing customers, including three new full pay-out conditions and improvements to children's CI cover.
The new plan offers a single payout in the event of the customer's death or diagnosis of a critical or terminal illness.
For existing customers, three new full payout conditions are added: gastro-intestinal stromal tumour, neuroendocrine tumours and ulcerative colitis.
Guardian has also made improvements to a number of definitions include cardiomyopathy, intensive care eligibility, low-grade prostate cancer, Parkinson's disease, and cancer. Metastatic non-melanoma skin cancer has been uplifted from additional to full payment.
The age range of children's CI has been increased to age 23, regardless of whether they are in full-time education. Also, the indexation cap that restricted the sum insured to a maximum of £100,000 has now been removed, and the blindness definition has been enhanced.
Industry analyst CI Expert has noted the removal of the active surveillance/watchful waiting exclusion for low grade prostate cancer, while the intensive care eligibility definition has been reduced to seven days from the previous ten it says. The cardiomyopathy definition has also been widened.
Some conditions have been brought in line with market standard definitions. Those include benign brain tumour and dementia including Alzheimer's. Type 2 insulin dependent diabetes mellitus is now paid as an additional condition.
Guardian has removed the critical illness buy-back option, and also reserved cover (this allowed cover increases in the first 27 months of the policy). The benign brain tumour definition no longer pays on diagnosis but on undergoing treatment. Type 1 diabetes benefit has been changed from 100% to additional payment status.
Cover can be level, decreasing or inflation linked increasing, and can be single or joint life.
Comment: Guardian shook up the market by offering simpler CI definitions and a fresh approach to some elements of the cover. However, that came at a price and its generally high quality cover also commanded a price (premium) that restricted business volumes.
This new plan addresses many of those issues – widening cover in some areas, narrowing it in others and offering a single life/CI payout. So does that mean it got things wrong initially?
Arguably yes, but that’s really not important. What is important is that it is continuing to be different, and tweaking cover if it needs to be tweaked is a sensible strategy. It remains a provider of high quality cover, but the battle to get all advisers and customers to buy on quality not just price remains a tough one.
Plus points: A new combined life/CI plan; Some cover widening; Cover improvements extended to existing customers; Guardian remains an innovate life office.
Not so plus points: Some of the moves arguably indicate the initial offering was not pitched correctly; Some narrowing of cover.
Rating (max 10): Overall: 9 Platinum
Tags: CI; Guardian
I Mark: No