AIG Europe is officially launching its WellWoman critical illness package following a successful pilot scheme earlier this year.
WellWoman is designed for the one in 10 women who will develop one of the seven female-specific cancers at some time in their lives. The most common, breast cancer, affects over 30,000 women each year.
Initially the package is only available through affinity groups, usually employers who will be able to offer the benefit to their female staff at no cost to the company, deducting monthly premiums directly from salaries.
Premiums are assessed purely by age, starting at £3 a month for women under 30, and are fixed at the level of entry.
There is no heredity exclusion, and women who have been given the all-clear after suffering from cancer will also be able to take up the plan. The only women to be excluded will be those who are tested for or diagnosed with cancer within 90 days of taking out a policy.
The WellWoman scheme will pay out £6,000 on diagnosis, a monthly income of £500 for up to 12 months, £3,000 after surgery, and £100 per day of hospitalisation to a maximum of 100 days, with no restrictions on how the cash is spent. There is also unlimited access to a 24hr information and counselling helpline. Nicholas Walsh, managing director of AIG Europe (UK) said: “When developing this product we threw away the rule book. We wanted to find real and tangible ways to help women and our entire focus has been directed at recovery. We have created WellWoman from the perspective of the patient – with both emotional and financial support.”
For every policy sold, AIG Europe will make a donation to cancer research and match this with a contribution to The Haven Trust, the national breast cancer charity.
Chief of the World Health Organisation’s Cancer Programme, Professor Karol Sikora commented: “This is a very interesting development; incidence of cancer is set to double from 10 million to 20 million sufferers in the next 20 years, and is the number one health fear of both women and men. With technological advances and an ageing population the cost of health care is rising, and because governments don’t want to raise taxes, critical illness plans are the way forward.”
AIG Europe plan to make the WellWoman product available to individuals in 1999, when it will be targeting organisations such as the Women’s Institutes.
An equivalent package exclusively for male cancers is also on the drawing board.