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Barnard blasts Pru critical plan

Dr Marius Barnard, the architect of critical-illness cover, has slammed Prudential’s new flexible protection plan, saying it is complicated and gimmicky.

Barnard has long campaigned for the introduction of staged payouts based on the severity of a disease, which the Pru product offers, but he says these should only apply to critical diseases, not the myriad of less serious conditions also covered by the Pru product.

The Pru plan, developed with South African insurer Discovery, covers the four main conditions first included in CI policies by Barnard – heart attack, cancer, stroke and coronary bypass surgery – but it also covers many other conditions that can affect lives, such as the loss of an eye.

Barnard, who was part of the team that conducted the world’s first human heart transplant, says the number of payout permutations is difficult for him to understand, let alone a member of the public.

He says: “If you go blind in one eye, you can live a perfectly normal life. I would not class this as critical. I want to see severity based on the main conditions, not on all these 100-odd conditions.

“I think this is a very complex product. If I cannot understand it, then what chance has the average consumer got? I think this is quite gimmicky. They are very clever though.”

Prudential head of protection Paul Cowman says: “We spent a lot of time working with leading ophthalmic surgeons and if you lose the sight in one eye, your field of vision is restricted, so you might not be able to drive. We have assessed conditions based on the impact on people’s lives, which is why they are not all full payouts but we want to reassure people that if a certain condition occurs they will get a payment, preventing the lottery of existing policies that require a lot of medical knowledge to understand them.”

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