Critical Illness Cover - UK - February 2009
Demand for critical illness (CI) policies from individuals has been in decline since 2003. Adverse media coverage surrounding claims handling and a perceived lack of transparency have tarnished the product and fostered public mistrust of the industry. The slowdown in the housing and mortgage markets has created further challenges for providers – owing to the fact that a large proportion of new CI business has traditionally been generated via the mortgage sales process.
This report examines the recent performance of the UK critical illness market and assesses its future prospects for growth. It explores the current issues facing CI providers and the developments that have been made to quieten the critics, restore confidence in the product and to breathe new life into the sector. In addition, Mintel’s consumer research reveals trends in ownership and barriers to purchase, as well as attitudes towards protection insurance and potential targeting opportunities.
What is the size of the CI market and how has it performed recently?
Who are the leading underwriters and what is their view of the market’s current health and prospects?
How has the credit crunch and housing slump affected demand for CI cover?
How is the industry tackling criticisms relating to low claims payouts and negative perceptions linked to adverse media?
Has there been any notable new product development recently?
What proportion of UK adults have CI cover and other related protection products?
What is their view of these types of insurance?
What was their experience of arranging cover?
Why do people not have it?
Impact of the economic and housing market slowdown – reduced affordability and low housing transactions are feeding through to lower sales of new CI policies.
In decline – even before the credit crisis, the market was suffering from falling demand, negative public perception and a loss of consumer confidence.
Claims payouts – claims costs are rising as payout levels increase, following new
ABIguidelines. The industry has moved towards proportionate/partial claim payouts in accidental cases of non-disclosure.
Improving product/industry image – the new approach to claims is part of a concerted effort by the industry to improve its image, enhance the product’s appeal and win back trust.
Product development – although the CI market has not been particularly progressive historically, there have been some notable industry initiatives and product innovations over the past year. Could the market be about to turn a corner? Or will recession delay its revival?
Competition – as the pool of new customers shrinks, competition has intensified. Providers are seeking to get ahead by differentiating on price, service and level and flexibility of cover.
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