A leading insurer has announced that it is broadening the range of cancers covered under its ‘critical illness’ policy in order to offer the widest possible protection to policyholders. Friends Life have updated their critical illness cover, making their new product one of the most comprehensive on the market.

The news comes as the insurer reveals that critical illness claims last year overtook life insurance payouts. Keep reading to find more.

Friends Life improves critical illness cover

Leading insurer Friends Life has updated its critical illness product in order to improve the coverage of less advanced cancers. The company already provides specific cover for breast, prostrate, cervix and bladder cancer but will now widen its definitions to include an additional 16 ‘in situ’ cancers.

According to a leading insurance expert this means it now offers the widest cancer cover within a standard critical illness cover policy.

Friends Life has made several major changes to its policy including the introduction of a new over-arching condition called ‘less advanced cancers’, the introduction of a new additional payment condition called ‘severe hearing loss’ and the removal of Alzheimer’s as it is already covered within the auspices of dementia.

Insurance expert Alan Lakey said: “The 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.”

Emma Thomson, life office relationship director at Lifesearch, said: “Friends Life has significantly improved coverage of less advanced cancers; a key concern for consumers and most importantly will enable more clients to claim,” adding that making all additional payments 25 per cent or £25,000 also simplifies the terms and conditions.

“Friends Life have once again focussed on making improvements that are meaningful and through improving definition wordings, will make it much clearer for clients what they are covered for.”

Critical illness cover claims overtake life insurance payouts for the first time

The news of an improved critical illness policy came as Friends Life announced that their payouts for critical illness claims overtook those for life claims in 2014 for the first time.

Chris Pollard, head of underwriting, claims and customer services, highlighted latest statistics from the provider, which revealed it paid £122 million in critical illness claims in 2014 – £1 million more than for life claims.

The insurer paid 94 per cent of adult critical illness claims in 2014 (up from 91 per cent in 2013) worth £122 million, plus £1.7 million to 88 families in child claims. This is compared to 99 per cent of life and terminal illness claims worth £121 million.

Friends Life also paid more than £265 million overall in individual protection claims to more than 7,000 people, the equivalent of £1 million every working day.

Mr Pollard said: “CI cover offers a financial safety net, meaning people can concentrate on getting better and not have to worry about paying the bills.”

Cancer remained the largest cause of a critical illness claim but there was an increase in the number of heart attack, stroke and multiple sclerosis claims paid out. More than £600,000 was also paid to customers under Friends Life’s diabetes cover.