A number of significant enhancements have been introduced to Friends Life’s existing Group Critical Illness Plan. These include:
* A further 10 definitions have been enhanced over and above the standard ABI (Association of British Insurers) definition. These are for cancer, major organ transplant, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and stroke on the Standard Cover plan. On the Comprehensive Cover plan the enhanced definitions are for aorta graft surgery, blindness, coma, HIV infection and third degree burns. In total the plan now has 16 ABI+ definitions.
* Cardiac arrest has been added as a new standard definition.
* For children’s cover the maximum age has been extended from 18 to 21 for those children in full-time education.
* Maximum benefit is now the lower of five times salary or £500,000.
* Under flexible benefits schemes, members are now allowed unlimited benefit increases during the selection window and at standard lifestyle events.
* The Best Doctors service is now available to all members and their dependants at any time, not just only once a claim has been made. To support this, an employer microsite toolkit has been launched, setting out all information on the service in one place. Two new Best Doctor additions are i) ‘Ask The Expert’, offering a streamlined access to a world-leading specialist for a specified condition within a few days, without a full collection of medical records, and ii) ‘Ask Best Doctors’, giving access to an online multimedia library of medical conditions, treatments and testing.
What They Say
Director of group protection, David Williams, said: “Our critical illness product is an attractive benefit option for employers to offer their staff, providing members with access to expert medical opinion and a potential financial benefit when they are at their most vulnerable through illness.”
What We Say
“Group CI has been the poor relation compared to its individual CI cousin to some extent, with sales having grown, but not to the extent seen in the individual market. One reason is that group CI is a relatively expensive benefit to provide.
“Friends’ latest enhancements work on two levels. First, there is a raft of tweaks and enhancements that effectively mean more claims should arise per 1,000 employees. Second, the Best Doctors enhancements effectively mean more employees and their families will benefit from the expert advice available when a serious or life threatening condition arises.
“All CI cover is, arguably, still far too complex, but a case can be made that this is of less importance in the group risk space as the employer is the buyer, not the employee. Triggering third party services, not just money, when a critical illness arises, helps take CI into a wider space than it has hitherto occupied, and that must be good for this type of cover as a whole.”