Advisers should consider children's cover on CI policies as one of the more important aspects of the contract. Mark Anders makes the case.
These conditions can either cause death, or long-term disabilities in the children affected, which in turn has an impact on parents, guardians, and their wider families. One of the more serious congenital conditions is heart disease, with 9 in every 1000 babies born in the UK with a heart defect.
Around 80% of children born with heart disease will survive into adulthood, but the lifelong care and management of these health issues can be difficult for parents to deal with emotionally and financially.
But whether a child is born with a heart condition that is picked up on at birth, or suffers from heart problems at an older age, the industry’s aim should be to help as many families as possible cope with those financial strains brought on by such conditions.
Friends Life’s claims for open heart surgery or cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease) amounted to 15% of our overall claims for children last year, which means a number of children and their families would have been subject to a difficult time, emotionally and financially.
It is Friends Life and the other market leading insurance providers’ job, to assist those families financially, which will in turn have a positive effect on them emotionally.
Other conditions likely to affect babies and children include hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy. These may not feature on all critical illness policies in the market, and this won’t always be apparent to customers when they are considering taking out a critical illness policy with an added extra benefit such as child cover.
However, it is positive to see that the majority of providers do cover children for all types of the most common serious illnesses they are likely to be diagnosed with, including cancer.
Some of the most heartbreaking words a parent will ever hear is that their child has cancer. They will face feelings of fear, anger, denial and sadness, but they will also have to find the strength to support their child and deal with the practicalities of living with the disease on a day-to-day basis.
Last year, 66% of claims for children that came through our claims department were for cancer.
Life Changing impact
A number of people will have their life changed by just one of the 1500 children diagnosed with cancer each year developing the disease. The impact on parents is incomprehensible. Some might have to take long periods of unpaid time from work in order to be a daily carer for their child, or to transport them to and from hospital.
In some cases, one of the parents might have to give up their job altogether if there is no other family member who can care for the child, or if they simply just want to be there for their child during such a difficult period of time.
This inevitably puts a financial strain on any family, as the loss of income may affect the ability to pay their bills or mortgage in full. If they do not live close to the hospital where their child is receiving treatment then there will also be travel expenses to pay – especially if they have to travel to hospital each day to receive treatment such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
Making sure these families are covered during one of the most difficult times of their lives can alleviate some of this strain.
Whilst we all hope that our children won’t fall ill or suffer from a serious illness, they aren’t invincible, and can develop diseases that are on a par with those that adults can be affected by. Sometimes parents need practical, as well and financial, support as they come to terms with this.
A protection product which can provide added support services, such a second medical opinion or carer benefit, can be a huge help to those who find themselves in this position.
As an industry, I believe it is important for us to continue to provide this crucial support to families, and to continue to examine and enhance our policies, making sure that more child specific conditions are included on critical illness policies – if they are going to be marketed as a product that includes protection for children.
Mark Anders, director of sales and marketing, individual protection, Friends Life