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‘Group Critical Illness Cover’ by Legal & General


A range of improvements for L&G’s group CI plan.Group CI plans tend to cover fewer conditions than individual CI plans.
More conditions covered.The group CI market is still relatively small.
Increased flexibility.Not a major market for most advisers.

The Product

L&G has updated its group critical illness plan, bringing the number of core conditions covered as standard to 15. Optionally that can be increased up to 41.

Children’s cover, included as standard, has been enhanced with six child-only conditions, and children are now covered from birth until age 21. The six are: cerebral palsy; cystic fibrosis; hydrocephalus (treated with insertion of a shunt); muscular dystrophy; spina bifida, and child loss of independent existence.

Three new adult conditions have been added – cancer (second and subsequent), cardiac arrest and progressive supranuclear palsy.

There are eight updates to existing adult conditions. These are the removal of postural instability for Parkinson’s; improved definition for loss of hand or foot (only one now needs to be affected); 20% burns to head or face for third degree burns; removed reference to specific troponin levels for heart attack; paralysis of limb definition changed; Hong Kong added to HIV country list; subcutaneous nodules and positive rheumatoid factor test removed for rheumatoid arthritis, and removal of exclusion for Kennedys disease for motor neurone disease.

The insurer has also introduced unlimited step changes at each benefit selection date, to allow increased flexibility for flexible benefits and voluntary customers.

The maximum benefit is now the lower of £500,000 or five times scheme earnings.

The 15 core conditions now covered are:

* Alzheimer’s disease – resulting in permanent symptoms.

* Cancer including Hodgkin’s disease – excluding less advanced cases.

* Cancer second and subsequent – new and unrelated cancer.

* Cardiac Arrest – with insertion of a defibrillator.

* Coronary artery by-pass grafts – with surgery to divide the breastbone.

* Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) – resulting in permanent symptoms.

* Heart attack – of specified severity.

* Kidney failure – requiring dialysis.

* Major organ transplant – from another donor.

* Motor neurone disease – resulting in permanent symptoms.

* Multiples sclerosis – with persisting symptoms.

* Parkinson’s disease – resulting in permanent symptoms.

* Pre-senile dementia – resulting in permanent symptoms.

* Progressive supranuclear palsy – resulting in permanent symptoms.

* Stroke – resulting in symptoms lasting at least 24 hours.

Additional cover options (available at an extra cost) are:

* Angioplasty – to treat specific conditions of specified severity.

* Aorta graft – surgery requiring surgical replacement.

* Aplastic anaemia – with permanent bone marrow failure.

* Bacterial meningitis – resulting in permanent neurological deficit.

* Balloon valvuloplasty – to relieve heart valvular abnormalities.

* Benign brain tumour – resulting in either surgical removal or permanent symptoms.

* Blindness – permanent and irreversible.

* Cardiomyopathy – of specified severity.

* Coma – resulting in permanent symptoms.

* Deafness – permanent and irreversible.

* Encephalitis – resulting in permanent neurological deficit.

* Heart surgery – with surgery to divide the breastbone.

* Heart valve replacement or repair – with surgery to divide the breastbone.

* HIV infection – caught in a specified country from a blood transfusion, a physical assault or at work in an eligible occupation.

* Liver failure – of advanced stage.

* Loss of hand or foot – permanent physical severance.

* Loss of independent existence (including muscular dystrophy) – permanent and irreversible.

* Loss of speech – permanent and irreversible.

* Paralysis of limb – total and irreversible.

* Pulmonary artery surgery – to excise and replace with a graft.

* Respiratory failure – of advanced stage.

* Rheumatoid arthritis – of specified severity.

* Terminal illness – before State pension age where death is expected within 12 months.

* Third degree burns – covering 20% of the surface area of the body or 20% of the face or head.

* Total and permanent disability – before state pension age and of specified severity

* Traumatic head injury – resulting in permanent symptoms

In addition, Total and Permanent Disability is now on an ‘own occupation basis’; ‘any occupation basis’; or cover can be excluded for Total and Permanent Disability and Terminal Illness.

Children are covered for the same illnesses and conditions as the insured employee as well as for the additional six child-only conditions.

What They Say

Distribution director, group protection, Colin Fitzgerald said: "We understand that life can be unpredictable, which is why we have updated our critical illness products to offer advisers and their clients better support, added flexibility and greater confidence that they will be protected during difficult times. "These improvements will help us to better serve our customers, providing them with more choice and a top-quality proposition. Providing better value for customers is central to our proposition and with more innovations in the pipeline this year we look forward to improving our products further to become one of the leading providers of group CI."

What We Say

"Last month we reviewed L&G’s latest changes to its individual CI plans and it has now followed this up by updating its group risk CI plan too. "Group CI is generally less comprehensive than individual CI, although the gap is narrowing, and these changes to the group product further extend what it will pay out for. "The changes are welcome and L&G also says it has more changes in the pipeline. That certainly indicates a dynamic insurer, although too many changes can become confusing. Overall, this is a sound product that should appeal even more to employers and employees."