Canada Life International – Flexible Protector Plan
Type: Individual critical illness cover
Minimum premium/cover: £15 a month, £150 a year/subject to
Maximum cover: £1m
Illnesses covered: Accidental HIV, alzheimer's disease,
pre-senile dementia, angioplasty, aorta graft surgery, benign brain
tumour, blindness, cancer, coronary artery bypass surgery,
Creutzfeldt-Jakob's disease, deafness, heart attack, heart
valve replacement or repair, HIV/Aids by blood transfusion, keyhole
heart surgery, kidney failure, loss of independent existence, loss of
limbs, loss of speech, major organ transplant, motor neurone
disease, multiple sclerosis, paralysis/paraplegia,
Parkinson's disease, stroke, terminal illness, third
Minimum-maximum ages: 18-80
Options: Life cover, total permanent disability cover, waiver of
Commission: Initial 100% of Lautro, renewal 2.5%
Tel: 01624 820399
Jonathan Elms - Partner, Teare Rose
Peter Overy - Principal, Overy & Booth
Reza Parvaneh - Principal, Imperial Financial
Peter Selby - Associate, Brookridge Services Associates
Company's reputation: 6.0
Premium rates: 4.8
Range of illnesses: 7.0
Product literature: 6.8
Canada Life International has entered the individual critical illness cover market by introducing its flexible protector plan.
Looking at how the plan fits into the market, Elms says: "It fits in reasonably well, though I don't understand why it is underwritten by the offshore company, when it's for the UK market."
Overy thinks it is a fairly standard whole of life and critical illness cover plan, with no outstanding features. He says: "The premiums will be the deciding factor."
Parvaneh feels that the plan is in line with other major providers' products. Selby says: "The plan fits into the market very well. It is nice to see competitive contracts being introduced."
Identifying the type of client the plan is suitable for Overy lists, male and female on a single life basis, couples and people in business subject to the premiums.
Elms thinks the plan would be suitable for the middle-income group, small businesses and ex-pats. Elms feels that denomination in other currencies may be useful in due course, for example the euro, for ex-pats.
Selby thinks most clients requiring critical illness cover on a standalone or life cover included basis, who require this type of contract on a whole of life basis.
Parvaneh says: "It's flexible enough to suit all age groups, however, mainly professionals in their mid-to-late thirties."
Turning to the marketing opportunities the plan will provide, Elms says: "I quite like the working life option to compete with Pegasus and Standard 100. It could have long-term care implications which may be of interest to director controlled companies."
Selby thinks it will not provide any new opportunities, he says: "The market for critical illness has always been there." Parvaneh feels that it's up to the adviser to use this to their advantage and market it.
Overy says: "Except for older and business clients there are no special
Analysing the main useful features and strong points of the plan, Elms again points out the working life option.
Selby says: "The contract has taken into account the key features of the recognised market leaders. It is very well presented." Parvaneh thinks the plan has a good range of protection menus.
Overy says: "The plan can be started at age 65 attained, whereas most plans client must be under the age of 55. The plan can also run to the age of 100 which is important today due to increased life expectancy."
The panel agree that the illnesses covered are comprehensive, with all the major illnesses covered. But Overy points out that the children's cover is lower than some plans.
The panel has mixed views on the plan's flexibility, Parvaneh says: "The plan is not quite as flexible as most other providers, it could do with more bells and whistles."
Overy thinks it is no more or less flexible than most, he says: "There does not appear to be an option to change from first death to last death to enable the plan to be used for inheritance tax planning."
Selby says: "The plans flexibility is very good, it has some very nice features."
Turning to the plan's disadvantages, Elms says: "The brand is not too visible in the IFA market. There is no term option and whole of life plans tend to be expensive. Own occupation should be available throughout the plan without any conditions."
Selby also points out that the plan is only available on a whole of life basis. He says: "A term version of the plan would have presented more marketing opportunities. It is a pity that a buyback facility was not included."
Parvaneh thinks that more funds should be available. Overy thinks that no flexibility on waiver of premium is a drawback.
Commenting on Canada Life International's reputation, Selby thinks it is very good.
Parvaneh says: "I have not had much dealing with Canada Life on the international side, but it is a respected company among IFAs."
Overy says: "Personally, I would prefer to use a UK-based company, due to built in protection. Quite a few Canadian-based companies have failed in recent years, for example Confederation Life."
Elms doesn't think much of Canada Life International's reputation. He says: "It does have some exposure as a protection office, but not as an investment one and there is investment involved in whole of life."
The panel list Scottish Mutual Pegasus, Scottish Provident, and Scottish Amicable as the main competition for the plan. Overy says: "All UK-based insurance companies which offer whole of life and critical illness cover with a few exceptions."
Examining the plan's premiums, Overy feels that they are too expensive, while Parvaneh thinks they are average.
Selby says: "On the samples taken they rank about third for male non smoker at age 30, 40 and 50. On female lives first at age 30 and fourth at age 50."
The panel agree that the charges and commission payable are fair and reasonable. Although, Elms says: "The charges are not specific enough in the key features document, which is a weakness. A four year establishment period is long by today's standards."
Looking at the product literature, Overy says: "It is fairly good and comprehensive." Parvaneh thinks it is very simple.
Elms says; "The literature is not bad, at least it's fairly concise and straightforward. The premium can be split between a maximum of four funds, that are not specified in the literature, as far as I can see." Selby sees it is as some of the best available."
Summing up Selby says: "The underwriters were easily available and very helpful - other companies should take note."
Elms says: "There is no pressing reason for us to recommend this contract."
Overy says: "A standard whole of life and critical illness cover plan with limited use. Other companies offer better value for money and marginally better features. Canada Life International has either not done their homework, as any IFA would do, or they are not serious about this market."