Critical Illness Insurance. How critical can you get?

By: Michael Challiner
There’s a new critical illness policy on the market which attempts to go some way with regard to sorting out the perplexity regarding exactly what is, and is not, covered when it comes to claiming on the policy. Traditional critical illness policies tend to cover up to 35 listed medical conditions. Policyholders could become seriously ill with a condition that doesn’t fall into the scope of the policy and find that their illness is not covered, whilst others may be diagnosed with a listed illness with a lower “grading" which is relatively easily treated, for which they get a full payout. Because of this inequality, the Financial Services Authority is uneasy with regard to insurers failing to fully understand that cover is restricted to certain specific illnesses.

This new product is marketed by the Prudential, under the name of the Flexible Protection Plan, and is unusual in that it claims to cover an amazing 140 medical conditions. However, cover is based on the severity of the condition which could possibly cause some uncertainty regarding the grading of these illnesses. This is how the plan works: Listed in the policy are practically all serious illnesses and the payout when one these is diagnosed will be graded according to the severity of the condition.

The Prudential says that by tying payments to the degree of seriousness of the illness means that more payments can be offered to people with debilitating illnesses, who may otherwise get nothing at all. An example of this is that should you lose the sight of one eye; the Prudential policy will pay 25% of the sum assured. Normally, critical illness policies would only pay out when total blindness occurs. In all, 140 severe conditions are covered.

A spokesman for one of the specialist financial advisers welcomed the range of the policy, but voiced some concern regarding the implementation of these severity-based payments, saying that it would be open to argument as to what level of severity some illnesses would be graded as. It was felt that it would not be advisable to enter into this type of policy unless you had a very clear understanding of exactly how it would work. We quote “It will be up to the consumer to decide whether a guarantee of getting a smaller payment is better than possibly getting nothing.

"The cost of this new policy is approximately twice as much as conventional critical illness cover.

If your main concern regarding insurance cover should you become critically ill would be the financial outcome, it might be better to consider life insurance. Particularly, if you have a family to support, you may need something that is going to guarantee their lifestyle in the worst case scenario and with the addition of some income protection cover, which would meet outgoings in the event of you becoming unable to work due to illness. This type of cover, unlike the critical illness policy, protects you against common conditions, which result in you being unable to carry out your work.

The best course of action would be to contact a broker and check out the alternatives. The internet’s a good place to start and there are some good internet discount’s available, along with plenty of advice. A good broker will be able to compare the products available and come up with the right insurance product for you.

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