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Combined Life and Critical Illness Protection from Guardian


Pros

Cons
New combined life and CI planSome narrowing of cover
Improved and widened benefitsIt can be argued some changes have had to be made in response to getting a few things wrong initially
Available to existing customers tooA quality-led approach is never going to result in lowest premiums – but then price should never be the overruling factor

The Product

Guardian has launched a combined life and critical illness (CI) cover plan to offer a more competitive proposition for those who want both types of cover, albeit with a single payout. There are also a number of enhancements to its CI proposition for existing customers, including three new full payout 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, whichever comes first.

Available to existing customers, the three new full payout conditions added to CI are gastrointestinal stromal tumour, neuroendocrine tumours and ulcerative colitis.

Improvements to various definitions include cardiomyopathy, intensive care eligibility, low-grade prostate cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer, with metastatic non-melanoma skin cancer uplifted from additional to full payment.

The age range of children’s CI has been increased up to age 23, regardless of full-time education status. In addition, the indexation cap that previously restricted the sum insured to a maximum of £100,000 has been removed, and the blindness definition enhanced.

CI Expert has reported that one change has been 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. The cardiomyopathy definition has been widened.

Some conditions have been brought into line with market standard definitions, including benign brain tumour and dementia including Alzheimer’s. Type 2 insulin dependent diabetes mellitus is now paid as an additional condition.

However, critical illness buy-back has been removed, as has reserved cover (allowing cover increases within the first 27 months) and the benign brain tumour definition no longer pays on diagnosis but on undergoing treatment. Type 1 diabetes 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.

What they say

CEO Katya MacLean said: “A big part of Guardian’s journey to date has been based on listening. So, we’re really pleased, just over a year since launch, to be introducing a new type of cover requested by our mortgage partners.

Being a Guardian policy, our combined cover benefits from the quality we’ve become renowned for – simple definitions, many of which pay out on the word of a UK consultant; cover upgrade; our dual life approach; and the ability to add children’s critical illness cover. But because it pays out just once, we’re able to offer it more competitively than the standalone options which have the possibility of multiple payouts.”

What we say

When Guardian launched last year, many in the industry were surprised at some of its simple definitions and its overall aim to simplify. Some added that this level of innovation was both risky and was certain not to last, and those critics will probably now point to these changes as evidence they were right.

I’m not sure that would be a correct interpretation. However, Guardian’s initial approach did come at a price – literally. The insurer found that its pricing for standalone benefits was generally above what financial advisers were prepared to recommend, unless quality of cover was the sole criteria.

Now, it has reviewed the experience of its first few months and taken onboard adviser feedback. The result is this new combined plan that includes a number of cover improvements and enhancements, albeit with some narrowing of cover in certain areas too. We have not looked at pricing in detail, but would expect this to be more competitive too.

Importantly, cover changes are available to existing customers too – potentially a real plus point over time.

When Guardian relaunched some saw it as a breath of fresh air. With this product, that breath still smells pretty sweet. Overall, Guardian looks to be proving it is both listening and reacting but not with any sense of panic. It deserves to do well.