On its Protect menu protection plan, Scottish Widows has introduced a number of changes to the critical illness element. These include:
• Simplification. There are now 40 (down from 49) conditions covered. However this has been achieved by combining similar definitions. So, 16 previous definitions have been cut to just five, even though cover is now wider, with some conditions such as heart failure, having been added.
• The top ten conditions account for 96.3% of Scottish Widows’ claims, so it has widened some key definitions, concentrating on the two most common claims - for cancer and heart.
• A Booster Payment for selected neurological conditions is now included for customers 45 or under. They get an enhanced payment of 150% of their current sum insured (max £200,000).
• Advanced payment for surgical procedures has been added. Instead of having to wait for surgery, an advance payment of the current amount of cover is paid out if the customer is on a UK waiting list for treatment (NHS or private).
• Increased payouts for additional payments and children’s cover. The maximum payout has been increased from £25,000 to £30,000 for children’s critical illness cover and for children’s life cover the payout has been increased from £5,000 to £10,000.
• Child cover has been extended to all main and additional conditions except for TPD.
• The survival period for main conditions has been reduced from 14 days to ten days and removed completely for additional payments.
• Product literature. The 30 main conditions covered are now grouped together in five simple headings using a ‘body image’ concept. The five groups are: heart and arteries; organs; senses; brain and neurological, and cancer. Moreover, the Policy Summary is accredited by Fairer Finance as using clear design and simple language.
Although Protect is a menu style plan, each type of cover written as a legally separate entity, so making any future cover changes easier.
Comment: CI insurers are now going through an interesting phase – offering wider cover, but seemingly having fewer conditions covered. On the face of it confusing, the reality is that by merging definitions, insurers can achieve the seemingly impossible and offer more and wider cover that is actually simpler to understand.
Scottish Widows has gone further, by adopting a simple five headings body image concept to explain what CI covers. This is such a simple and effective idea that it’s a surprise it has not been widely adopted in the past.
One implication for advisers is that merging conditions where possible, also means simply counting conditions covered is no longer an appropriate strategy for advisers (if indeed it ever was). Instead, advisers increasingly need to look to expert analysis by such as CI Expert and Protection Guru to try to work out what it all means for their clients – a comment that applies to all CI plans, not just Scottish Widows’.
Plus points: More conditions covered; Wider cover; Including wider cover for children; Effective simplification – especially the body image concept.
Not so plus points: All CI contracts are now complex to fully understand, requiring specialist analysis to fully understand how plans compare; Not every condition can be covered by the simple five areas concept.
Rating (max 10): Overall: 8.5. Gold
Tags: CI: Scottish Widows
I Mark: No