Ageas Protect has recently changed its life insurance underwriting approach for certain types of cancer. John Downes explains why these changes were made.
Over the last 20 to 30 years we have seen an increase in the number of people being diagnosed with cancer, but on the other hand half of all adult cancer patients in England and Wales are predicted to survive for 10 or more years.
Cancer is unfortunately one of the top 20 most commonly disclosed conditions on the applications we receive for life insurance.
We are always looking for ways to make applying for cover as simple as possible for customers, so in light of the changing landscape, armed with this knowledge and with feedback from advisers and customers we reviewed our underwriting approach.
We looked at cancers where there is a high survival rate and also the small gaps between five and 10 year survival rates as an indication of long-term prognosis.
As a result of this analysis, we have been able to update our system to enable us to accept online applications for life cover from people with a history of cancer.
It does depend on the type of cancer, treatment received, the prognosis, where the indication is that it was not at an advanced stage and we also would not require a GP report.
The types of life cover applications that we can now offer standard rates for where there is a history of cancer are cervical; ductal carcinoma in situ; endometrial and uterine; skin; thyroid; vulval; prostate and testicular cancers.
In order for an applicant with a history of cancer to receive standard rates, they will need to meet certain criteria, all of which are good indicators of the severity of their condition.
The cancer will need to have been treated by surgery only, the primary treatment will need to have taken place 10 years ago or more and the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body, no longer be under review and they must not have had a recurrence.
Under our old underwriting rules, any disclosure of cancer on a life insurance application would have automatically triggered a request for a GP report.
These requests for medical evidence frequently caused delays and we sometimes did not receive a response, which had a negative impact on the rate of applications not proceeded with.
By introducing this new rule, we hope to improve the journey for advisers and the customers by offering them a quicker and smoother journey and for us we are hoping it will improve completion rates.
We continuously monitor our underwriting approach to take account of proven treatments, medical advancements and new medical statistics. We use this data to review our overall risk appetite.
Our analysis of cancer types is just one example of this ongoing activity. As improvements in treatment, diagnostics and survival rates of cancer and other critical medical conditions continue to evolve and improve our aim is to keep pace with these changes, to determine if our underwriting is fair and relevant.
We are in business to protect people. This small step should increase the number of people we can offer life cover too and means people who have survived a cancer diagnosis can have peace of mind too.
John Downes is head of underwriting and claims at Ageas Protect.