Critical concern over post-Covid cover –  THE CRUSADER

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Jim Owen, 58, and his wife have been paying into a joint life and critical illness plan since the early 1990s. Only now are they looking at it again. Struggles with his painful, slow recovery have made Jim more anxious about everything, he told Crusader.

“I’m finding it hard to compare the doctor’s report about my heart problems with what the insurance says,” he admits.

“I don’t want to slip up making a claim that’s rejected but then affects the whole policy and protection for my wife.”

His medical report indicates it is likely he had a heart attack which caused scarring.

The first reassurance for Jim is that even if he makes an unsuccessful critical illness claim, it won’t affect his policy.

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According to independent broker LifeSearch, however, over 90 percent of claims in the UK do pay out.

The number of claimants has dropped by an unprecedented 40 percent over the past year.

Covid is thought to be putting off people with health problems from visiting their doctors, so they lack the medical evidence.

Tragically, they might also leave it too late, turning any claim into a life insurance one for their loved ones.

The price and level of cover can vary greatly, from 100 conditions to three key ones – heart attack, stroke and cancer.

Severity plays an important part too, and keeping your policy up to date is crucial, says protection expert Kevin Carr.

“One of the most important areas where policies have evolved is the development of partial, or severity-based payments, where a lower amount is paid for less serious conditions, for example, early-stage cancer,” Carr explains.

“Most new plans will pay a small amount, such as 25 percent, with the further amount paid should the condition worsen.”

As with Jim’s cover, most critical illness policies include life protection.

“This is typically on a first event basis, so whichever happens first triggers the pay-out, but not both,” says Carr.

“Medical science evolves so quickly, newer policies can be quite different to older ones.”

Buying through an adviser does not typically cost any more than buying direct.

Policies need to be personalised taking account of age, health, smoking, occupation, hobbies and family history.

Premiums are usually fixed.

If Jim does make a successful claim it would yield about £30,000 but end the life cover which at his age would be impossibly expensive to replace.

“It’s tricky,” he says. “But I’m more confident now about how to proceed.”

Premium guide: for a healthy 41-year-old non-smoker, level term life cover with critical illness over 20 years would cost £49 a month with Zurich and £50.46 with Scottish Widows.

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