Zurich has introduced a new protection platform aiming to make its products easier to buy (instant cover online is now easier, pipeline updates are in real time and trusts are now signature free among other changes) and easier to service (much more flexibility and advisers can make changes online). At the same time it has introduced new income protection plans and new optional fracture cover.
Key features of the ‘Core’ Income Protection policy include:
* Up to 80% of net earnings covered for customers unable to work through illness or injury – compared to the industry average of around 60% of gross pay.
* Full rehabilitation support delivered by Zurich’s new specialist in-house team.
* Early claim notification benefit – Zurich will pay customers’ premiums when rehabilitation support is accessed during their deferred period.
* Return to work packages – if customers return to work on reduced hours, salary is topped up for two years.
* Choice of full-term or two year claim benefit option – with the ability to change between the two later.
A higher cost more comprehensive ‘Select’ version offers similar features, but with additional Trauma Benefit, where customers receive a lump sum of up to £50k on diagnosis of one of six conditions. Select cover also provides a Family Carer Benefit of up to £1,500 for 12 months, which supports families with a caring commitment following the illness or injury of a loved one. Other features include a Hospital Stay Benefit of £100 a night after six consecutive nights and a Funeral Benefit paying the lower of six times monthly benefit or £10k.
Multi-fracture cover is also available for customers between 16-70 and requires no additional underwriting. If a customer breaks a bone, dislocates a joint, ruptures their Achilles tendon or tears a cruciate ligament in their knee, they can claim up to £6k per year.
Zurich says its new platform also allows customers to change cover easily within the same product in future (traditionally, that often involved starting again), subject to underwriting where the risk increases.
Zurich has also updated its critical illness and life cover plans, and these also take advantage of the new flexibility it now offers customers.
What They Say
Head of market management, Peter Hamilton, said: "We’ve asked advisers and customers what they need and have completely redesigned our products and services to offer greater flexibility with slicker and speedier systems.
"We’re confident that through our new platform we’re offering market leading products, underpinned by first class service and support, so that more people can secure crucial cover to support them through life’s ups and downs."
What We Say"Go back long enough and Zurich (then Allied Dunbar) was clear market leader in the income protection market. Those days are long gone and in recent years some have seen Zurich as underperforming in the protection insurance market generally compared to some of its competitors. That said, it still paid out almost £9m in IP claims last year.
"That could be about to change and this new IP product illustrates the direction of change. Like other changes, the new product offers cover choices with the ability to switch between them, thanks to a new protection platform.
"Indeed, the backroom changes such as making products easier to buy, to change and to service will be welcomed by advisers and, over time, by customers too. Flexibility is one of those words long used and abused by insurers and all too often it meant customers’ ability to change the cover they had bought meant limited options to increase or else having to start again.
"Now, Zurich is allowing (within reason – there are still rules on how much and how often cover can be changed) customers to increase or decrease cover, switch between plan versions and otherwise change their plan as their needs change.
"The Select version of the plan, in particular, looks to offer wider benefits than traditional (and rather boring?) IP does, while even the client brochures have been written in a way that places the customer first and explains complex technicalities well."