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Focus on Protection

Rumours are rumbling on of another approach by Aviva to buy Prudential but both parties have denied it with Pru saying it does not comment on “rumour and speculation”.

In other possible acquisition news, Deutsche Bank is said to be eyeing up the closed-life business held by GE Life. The two other potential bidders said to be interested include Swiss Re. GE Life is expected to sell for £350m to £380m and bids are due on September 15.

No big surprise to see that Standard Life is likely to qualify for the FTSE 100 index shortly – probably at the expense of Schroders.

Resolution is also expected to benefit in the latest quarterly FTSE indices change and is a likely victor among the companies poised to graduate from the FTSE 250 when the results are announced in the next couple
of weeks.

Aegon has had a branding makeover in a bid to raise its profile among consumers who are sometimes unaware that it is the parent group of Scottish Equitable. All of the Group’s UK subsidiaries will now sport the Aegon logo in a move that will see Scottish Equitable become marketed as Aegon Scottish Equitable.

Scottish Equitable Protect will be merged into the main ScotEq brand which leads me nicely onto the protection marketplace.

Liv Vic has offered Red Arc’s services to all critical illness policyholders but this seems to have kicked up a bit of a storm among advisers. Although advisers agree that Red Arc offers a valuable provision and are pleased to see another provider using the care advisory service, the contention stems from the when the service is made available
to customers.

Liv Vic says the service will be offered once the claim has been settled but Lifesearch head of protection strategy Kevin Carr says this means the service will not be as valuable to clients as the Red Arc service offered by Bright Grey which is paid at point of claim, not point
of payment.

He says if a policyholder is diagnosed with cancer and three or four months down the line they are offered counselling services and a personal nurse adviser, the value of such a service is questionable. By this point the customer may either have already dealt with their illness psychologically or gone elsewhere for such support. But it is still good to see providers starting to offer benefits other than low premiums.

The FSA’s consultation period on the age 70 rule is almost up and the consensus in the industry is that the archaic regulation should be abolished altogether. The Association of British Insurers released a copy of the response it sent to the FSA which calls for those whole of life and fixed-term products which are pure protection products with no investment element or where the investment element is non-profit to be sold under Icob.

Scottish Widows is rolling its protection products menu out to all Lloyds TSB branches. The menu includes pension term assurance and whole of life policies and will be made available to the IFA market at the beginning of next year after a few tweaks.

And finally, we end on PTA where one of the latest concerns is that soaring sales could lead to a simultaneous dip in CI sales – the last thing the industry needs. CWC Research senior partner Clive Waller says most life products sold are term policies with accelerated critical illness cover but this cannot be sold alongside PTA. Waller wonders if stand-alone CI insurance will be sold as an alternative but suspects it may not sell as well as accelerated CI due to the fact it is a complicated product and potentially more expensive.

Concerns about PTA impacting upon sales of other types of protection products are continuing to emerge too. Can someone remind me which industry commentator it was who dismissed PTA as a “storm in a teacup”?

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