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Critical illness plan updates have improved cover in step with societal change – Lakey

by: Alan Lakey, director of CIExpert
  • 20/08/2021
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Critical illness plan updates have improved cover in step with societal change – Lakey
Covid-19 has disrupted aspects of critical illness insurance as much as it has affected other areas of personal and business life.


Changes have been applied rapidly to plan designs, condition wordings, children’s cover and many other matters such as added value benefits.   

The frequency of changes has diminished over the last 12 months, which may be a good thing for advisers confused by perpetual modifications. Equally, it’s probably setting up a long train of future changes which may all come along at once. 

The latest major change came from Royal London, which introduced a batch of enhancements at the end of July.  

The plan with enhanced children’s cover now pays the lower of £30,000 or 50 per cent of the sum insured, and runs until the 22nd birthday, or the 23rd if in full-time education. The child death benefit has been increased to £10,000 and the 14-day qualifying period for this death benefit has been removed. 

Aviva introduced DigiCare, courtesy of Square Health, into its personal protection plans excluding Simple Life in December 2020.   

Policyholders can make use of a free annual MOT, mental health support, physiotherapy, second medical opinion, digital GP service and various other benefits. This sits alongside 25 per cent gym membership discounts and the Global Treatment option courtesy of Best Doctors. 


Critical illness changes 

Major changes were made to critical illness cover (CIC) plan designs in October 2020.  

Both AIG and HSBC introduced substantial upgrades, which has served to elevate both of them towards the top of the quality ladder.

AIG took several steps further than other insurers by harmonising conditions. Many conditions have a similar claim trigger. So, even though it appeared to reduce condition numbers, it actually simplified the product whilst simultaneously widening the potential to claim.   

The most useful of these headings was Degenerative Neurological Disorder. The term includes any neurological condition creating one of two disabling outcomes. This enabled numerous disabling conditions, which previously had fallen through the cracks, to now be insured.   

Further, it unveiled the two-tier approach of a core and a comprehensive plan, made children’s cover optional and introduced a unique birth defect cover for children.  

HSBC introduced wholesale changes to its two critical illness plans with the most notable improvements being to the high-quality Critical Illness Plus plan, where children’s cover now pays the lower of £50,000 or 50 per cent of the sum insured.   

Additionally, children are now covered from birth and for a range of child-specific conditions such as Down’s syndrome and spina bifida. 

HSBC has also introduced a wide range of added value medical services, courtesy of Square Health. These provide HSBC policyholders, and in some instances their spouses or partners, with a range of online health services including a remote GP service, biennial health MOT, physiotherapy and mental health counselling. 

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