CIExpert: Friends Life CI changes 'significant'

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CIExpert has described Friends Life's changes to its critical illness (CI) product as offering 'a number of significant improvements'.

Alan Lakey, director of CI Expert said: "Friends Life has made a number of significant improvements to its CIC product with a clear focus on continuing to offer top of the market cover.

"The seven conditions have had their wordings tidied up to meet the December 2015 deadline for complying with the changes to ABI model wordings. These have minimal impact other than to add clarity."

The four major changes are:

1. The introduction of a new over-arching condition - "less advanced cancers
2. The introduction of "severe hearing loss" as a new additional payment condition
3. Ensuring homogenous payouts for all additional payment conditions
4. Removal of Alzheimer's disease, which is already covered within Dementia

Less advanced cancers Friends Life currently includes four specific in situ cancers, breast prostate cervix and bladder, which provide for payments between £12,500/12.5% and £25,000/25%.

The new condition covers 20 in situ cancers, in addition to the 4 shown above it covers anus, bile duct, colon/rectum, gallbladder, larynx, lung/bronchus, oesophagus, oral cavity, ovary, pancreas, renal pelvis, stomach, testicle, uterus, vagina and vulva.

All require some form of treatment, apart from carcinoma in situ of the renal pelvis and urinary bladder.

The improvement means Friends Life now offers the widest cancer cover within a standard CI policy.

Severe hearing loss The ABI model wording, standard for most providers requires hearing loss in the better ear to be 95 decibels or higher. The additional payment reduces it to 70 decibels in the better ear.

The wording mirrors deafness working used by Old Mutual and L&G both of which provide 100% payouts.

Additional payment conditions all additional payment conditions are mandated as the lower of £25,000 or 25% of the sum assured removing confusion.

In some instances this has doubled the existing payment, eg CIS of the breast and cervix, cerebral arteriovenous malformation, lobectomy and non-malignant pituitary adenoma.

Lakey concluded: "In short, the above improvements are beneficial in that they will increase the numbers of claims and simultaneously reduce those cancer claims that are currently declined for being in situ.

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