The majority of providers seem to be waiting until the last possible moment before they implement the ABI's new critical illness definitions, but I'm still not convinced they will make product and marketing material any clearer.
I expected to get a deluge of emails at the start of April announcing providers have adopted the new CI definitions and consumers will benefit from increased clarity and, as a result, will be treated more fairly.
But, as far as I know, only five providers in the individual protection market – Norwich Union, Royal Liver, UnumProvident, Legal & General and, from next week, Bright Grey – and one in the group protection market – Canada Life – have done so.
Part of the problem is the ABI did not set a specific date for providers to adopt the definitions by when it introduced them last year, and the April deadline seems to have been interpreted by most as April 30th.
But as a consumer, I’m really not that bothered because I don’t believe the new definitions are going to improve matters.
The ABI says it has produced more descriptive headings of illnesses so consumers have the right impression of what is really covered in the policy, but for cancer this merely involves writing the statement “excluding less advanced cases” in the heading.
So this still means consumers have to trawl through pages and pages of small print to discover what a “less advanced” case is.
Similarly, traumatic head injury is followed by the statement “resulting in permanent symptoms”, which seems a rather obscure and legalistic way of saying something like “you are affected for life”.
And HIV infection, with its statement “caught in the UK from a blood transfusion, a physical assault at work in an eligible occupation”, means consumers will have to find the relevant list detailing what an eligible occupation is.
I just hope advisers understand the definitions enough to explain to their clients what they mean, but judging from research by Progress from Royal Liver in July last year, I doubt this is the case.
On that somewhat negative note, this is my last week on IFAonline and I would like to thank everyone who took the time to read my stories and who sent me humorous, informative and sometimes challenging emails in response. I’ve had a great time!
If you have any comments you would like to add to this story or would like to speak to its author about a similar subject, telephone Emily Perryman on 020 7034 2680 or email [email protected].IFAonline
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