The AXA Protection Account, which was first launched in 2004, includes life, critical illness (CI), mortgage income protection and business protection cover. A number of changes have been introduced:
Children’s cover provides protection for children in full time education up to age 21 (the previous limit of 18 still continues for those not in full time education). Maximum benefit is the lower of 50% of the sum insured or £25,000.
The definition for stroke has been made ABI+ by removing the exclusion for traumatic injury to brain tissue or blood vessels (AXA says it is the first company to do this). The plan also includes ABI+ definitions for nine other conditions.
Open heart surgery has been added as a new condition. This takes the total number of conditions covered up to 38.
The number of countries acceptable for CI and HIV claims has been extended to 44.
A new Care Consultants service offers all new customers access to additional practical and emotional support. It is available to policyholders, their spouse or civil partner and their children up to age 21. This service claims to be the first in the UK to bring three support services into one comprehensive offering. They are:
– a second medical opinion uses US-based specialists to give a second opinion to those with a serious medical condition.
– claim support gives customers a dedicated counsellor at point of claim. The counsellor can also assess what other services may be appropriate.
– a medical helpline gives access to nurses, counsellors, midwives and pharmacists.
The plan already includes free cover on application; a choice of application routes; four additional covers that do not reduce the sum insured; advance payments for major heart surgery and terminal illness, and premium reductions for cancer and MS exclusions.
Further enhancements are also planned. One recent development has been the introduction of a 90 day premium guarantee. This means that rates are guaranteed even if they pass a birthday before taking out a plan.
What They Say
Director of marketing Iain Mallon said: “Changing lifestyles and differing family pressures make the CI improvements to permitted countries and children’s cover essential. By focusing on the three main claimed for conditions, cancer, heart attack and stroke, we’re improving our product where it matters the most rather than simply creating a long list of conditions to cover. We are increasingly witnessing customers recognise how much they need and value the additional support providers are able to offer. As a result we have launched the Care Consultants service, offering three essential support services in one, which covers every practical and emotional need a customer could experience for the duration of their policy.”
What We Say
The race to add new CI conditions has been joined by the race to add ABI+ (i.e. better than industry standard) definitions. That is no bad thing – while the ABI definitions provide a good start point, anything that offers customers better or wider cover is to be encouraged.
We like the idea of having a single Care Consultants umbrella, to include three sub-benefits. Increasingly, such benefits differentiate modern protection both from its forebears and from what the State can provide. More than that, they provide practical help and information at just the time it is needed.
Extending child cover to 21 for students is welcome, but why limit it to 21? Many students – even those who do not take a gap year – now study beyond age 21, and many still rely on the Bank of Mum and Dad…