Zurich has launched standalone critical illness (CI) cover for customers who do not want a product combined with life insurance.
It is also widening its Total Permanent Disability (TPD) definition, offering standard rates for customers with some mental health conditions and improving the wording around mental health conditions on its applications.
The insurer said its core and select levels of critical illness cover will be available, providing different tiers of benefits that these options include.
Standalone critical illness cover is often required when a customer already has a separate life insurance policy in place. Equally, if they have no dependents or a mortgage to consider but are looking to ensure they are supported should they become seriously ill.
This is also an option when customers want life cover to continue after making a critical illness claim.
Children’s cover, multi-fracture cover, TPD and waiver of premium can be added as optional extras, in the same way they can on the current product. This benefit is available through Zurich’s life protection platform.
Enhanced TPD and relevant life trusts
Zurich’s TPD benefit is also being enhanced through the addition of a work tasks definition to provide wider access. In situations where Zurich is unable to issue terms for the current own occupation definition, customers will be automatically offered work tasks instead.
This pays the sum assured if a customer, through illness or injury, is permanently unable to carry out three out of six specified work tasks. These include walking, climbing stairs, lifting an object, bending, getting in and out of a car or writing.
Age limits for TPD have also been increased on application from 54 to 65 with customers able to claim until their 71st birthday from their 60th.
Zurich has also developed the functionality for relevant life trusts to be fully completed online – removing the need for signatures and physical copies of the trust, speeding up the process. This means that if all information is to hand, these trusts can be completed in one session.
Further clarity has also been given on how many trustees should be added to the trust.
Standard rates on mental health
Amid increasing claims for mental health conditions, Zurich is now offering standard rates for customers with anxiety, stress and depression where symptoms are being well managed.
The wording of application questions has also been improved in a bid to understand individual circumstances more clearly, reduce the need for further medical evidence and lead to speedier decisions on cover.
To coincide with these enhancements, the insurer added that underwriting explanation letters and all communications to customers, have been reviewed to ensure they deliver information clearly and with sensitivity in line with the Association of British Insurers (ABI)’s forthcoming Mental Health Standards.
Louise Colley, director of retail protection at Zurich, (pictured) said: “We’ve listened to advisers and customers who have made it clear to us that flexibility, choice and access are top priorities.
“We’re confident that our latest enhancements will mean more people can access vital cover which meets their specific needs.
“We know through our claims expertise, that incidence of mental health issues among our customers is increasing. Our aim is to ensure that we can help as many people as possible put a financial safety net in place.”
Standalone CI sales increasing
Alan Lakey, director at CIExpert, said while one may think that there are few reasons for an adviser to recommend a standalone critical illness plan, compared to an accelerated life plan, many advisers are now using these within a menu to create a bespoke protection package for their clients.
“The Swiss Re Term & Health Watch 2021 advised that standalone CI sales grew by 31.3% during 2020 although it is clear that the majority of these purchases were not via advisers but via direct to customer firms,” Lakey said.
“Zurich considers terminal illness cover to be a critical illness condition so while the standalone plan will not pay out on death it will pay out if the client is deemed likely to die within the next twelve months.
“The introduction of a work task-based TPD will offer a degree of comfort to those in higher-risk occupations although statistics show that around 70% of work task claims are declined due to the onerous requirement to fail three of the six tasks.
“All in all this is a worthwhile move which enables advisers greater choice and flexibility when assisting their clients.”