Ageas Protect has updated its critical illness (CI) plan and changes include:
- The number of ABI+ (Association of British Insurers) definitions has been increased from 11 to 15 (the highest in the market, Ageas Protect claims) and that includes the definitions for cancer, stroke and multiple sclerosis.
- Two of the existing TPD (total and permanent disability) definitions are now also ABI+.
- Total disability is the new name for TPD with temporary disability, putting into one option two previous benefits. This pays a monthly income after 26 weeks off work if the condition is likely to be temporary. If it then becomes permanent, the balance of the benefit is paid as a lump sum. The monthly benefit is broadly the lower of 1% of the sum insured or 50% of pre-incapacity income.
- Double child payment. This doubles the benefit where treatment is not available in the UK but is overseas and is supported by Best Doctors. This takes this benefit to 100% of the sum assured up to a maximum of £100,000 in such cases. The feature applies to all covers, so if each parent has a single life plan two payouts could be possible.
Unusually, the improvements apply retrospectively, and Ageas Protect was contacting its customers before the end of 2011 to inform them that their benefits have increased. It says it is the only insurer to restrospectively apply improvements in this way two years running.
In fact, as we went to press, it was planning to go further by increasing payments already made in some cases. For example, a benefit limited child’s claim could result in a second payment now being made.
The plan itself now covers 39 conditions (one of which pays out a partial payment), includes the Best Doctors service and has no standard exclusions.
What They Say
Ageas Protect head of marketing Andy Milburn said: "Our upgraded CI benefit has focused on improving customer confidence and peace of mind. Our objective is to ensure that customers have value for money and effective protection against serious events. Once again we have shown that our existing customers are as important as new customers and our definition enhancements will be applied to all our customers retrospectively."
What We Say
"Ageas Protect is one of the more aggressively innovative life offices [we mean that as a compliment] and these new changes help move the CI proposition on.
"Two things stand out. First, total disability is a strong concept, paying an income if disability is temporary, switching to a lump sum if it becomes permanent. It doesn’t replace the need for IP, but can help where the customer does not [yet?] have IP cover. That said, we still think CI needs more innovation to better meet its brief.
"Second, applying improved CI definitions restrospectively is only really available to newish providers but nevertheless is a very valuable benefit for customers."