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Insurance Watch: Adding up the product benefits

Customers are seeing a wealth of attractive offers and financial incentives with their products as providers look to give protection.

Given the ongoing need to encourage our customers to be protected, it’s great to see providers taking steps to make their products, processes and overall proposition more attractive.

Staying in the race with CIC

Following hot on the heels of CIC product revisions from Old Mutual, Zurich and AIG, are improvements from Aviva.

It’s become increasingly important for providers to avoid being left behind when it comes to CIC, as competition in this area is high. Thankfully, this is no longer just about adding definition after definition, to come top in the numbers game. Instead, providers do seem to be looking at where they can add value for both adult and children’s policies.

Aviva has ensured that it has achieved this with its improvements. It has now added cover for brain abscess with specified treatment on its upgraded adult’s plan as well as introduced a new additional payment, which will pay for lesser-degree burns than required under a full payment. These are in addition to a new feature which would pay out £100 per night for up to 30 nights if an adult with an upgraded plan was to be hospitalised for more than seven nights.

Aviva has also extended the length of cover on its upgraded children’s plan up to the child’s 22nd birthday. This is in addition to including the above definitions for children but, most importantly, they’ve added cover for type 1 diabetes. Notably, Aviva has removed HIV as a definition, in-line with comments made by the ABI.

Income protection also seeing upgrades

Welcome enhancements have also been made to income protection products as the industry continues to look at ways it can encourage consumers to understand the crucial need for this type of benefit.

Whilst Zurich hasn’t been a notable income protection player in recent years, its new product release has ensured that it will be competitive going forward. The firm’s two-tier product offers an affordable yet quality contract, and also has the option of an upgraded alternative for those seeking additional benefits.

Zurich has also expanded the scope of improvement beyond the product itself and introduced an ‘early notification of claim’ benefit with a view to providing an enhanced claims process and experience. This ensures that a policyholder can get immediate access to rehabilitation services and waives the need for a customer to pay their premiums, even if they choose a long deferred period, which is an excellent move.

LV= has differentiated its IP product by introducing a new approach to the child carer benefits. The ‘parent and child cover’ importantly pays on diagnosis of one of the listed conditions covered, as opposed to requiring a child to have deteriorated to a point that they fail activity tasks. This means that money is potentially available much earlier, providing financial relief when it is very much needed. It’s great to see another provider thinking about how they can ensure a customer gets the help they need as quickly as possible.

Friendly Societies continues to look at how its proposition can attract more take-up by thinking not only about the product itself, but the extras it can offer.

Cirencester has released an improved version of its product alongside additional customer benefits.

It has made enhancements that include an increased choice of deferred periods, as well as an increased maximum benefit among other changes designed to ensure customers have more choice. The customer benefits package includes a wealth of discounts on health, fitness, fashion, holidays, motoring, food and drink, spa treatments and more.

British Friendly has always had a strong member benefits package, which includes the customer discounts and wellbeing advice and support, with access to virtual GPs available to policyholders and their family.

The mutual is now offering customers more certainty with guaranteed premiums. Whilst friendly societies still offers age-related premiums, it’s good to know that customers have guarantees of the amount that premiums will increase by and at what point.

Many advisers still shy away from policies costed in this way, but they can be very attractive for the right customer and are often a fantastic way for clients with a limited budget to get a meaningful level of cover.

Overall we’ve again seen positive moves by providers with enhancements to products that sit alongside improvements that will make a difference at the point of a claim. In addition, there has been an increased focus on benefits available, regardless of the claim. All this helps to provide a great outcome for customers, as well as developing more features and benefits for advisers to talk about.

Lucy Brown is head of protection at London and Country

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