Critical illness covera wider scope

By: Michael Challiner

Critical illness insurance offers cover for certain specified conditions such as cancer, heart problems, kidney failure, loss of limbs, etc., The cover is quite simple and straightforward, in that if you are diagnosed with one of the severe illnesses listed in your policy a payment is made. On average 35 conditions would be considered as falling into this category with most companies. There is just one company, Virgin, who vary the cover by offering severity-based payments when cancer is diagnosed. Obviously with an illness such as cancer, there are various degrees of severity and with increasing success rates in the treatment of this disease; this seems a fair way of dealing with the situation.

The Financial Services Authority are not certain that people realize the limitations on the number of severe medical conditions covered by their policies and that they could be in for a nasty awakening if they assume that every serious illness will be covered.

With this in mind, the Prudential have brought out a policy which lists 140 severe conditions, which will be covered by their plan.

Rather than the “black and white" decision made on diagnosis, this promises a grading of the payout according to the severity of the condition. A spokesman for the Prudential says the policy, named the Prudential’s Flexible Protection Plan, will mean that more payments will be made to insurers with debilitating illnesses, whose illnesses would otherwise be outside the scope of the insurance and who would then get nothing at all.

An improvement then on “black and white", but could this leave a “grey" area instead? Apart from knowing that they are, in fact, likely to be paid out, the decision could be left open to argument regarding the grading of the level of severity of the condition: therefore consumers could be worried and confused about the final amount agreed. What insurers would grade as relatively minor may appear very different to someone newly diagnosed with a condition. It could be a case of accepting the fact that a smaller payment is better than nothing at all, but it could also be that the payment doesn’t match expectations. It would be advisable to make sure that you thoroughly understand the full implications and terms of the policy before considering taking cover.

Conventional critical illness cover, for a typical 30 year old family man, who doesn’t smoke would be around ?24 per month, whereas it could more than double with this new plan.

It may be that critical illness cover is not the product for you. For financial security for your family, in the event of your death, life insurance would be the most important planning tool. To cover outgoings if you are incapable to working, income protection insurance could be useful. This offers cover for common ailments too, and not just the critical ones.

For advice and help on the type of insurances available, the easiest course of action is to find an internet broker, who’ll be able to answer your questions and come up with a range of quotes with a minimum of trouble to you and ensure that you arrange the insurance cover which is right for you and your family.

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