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Is protection’s new kid on the block up to scratch?

Launched just last month, new protection player Guardian has yet to prove itself. But from what we can tell so far, we like this new approach. Some small but important details have been radically improved and, although the definitions still run to many pages, there is an overall theme of simplicity, with clients front of mind.

Its first two products are life and critical illness cover. The two are not offered as a combined option, as Guardian says that can mean life cover ceases after a CI claim is made. Instead, a multi-policy discount applies.

Policies are available to UK residents aged between 18 and 65. Cover can be level, decreasing (in line with a 5 per cent repayment mortgage) or increasing in line with inflation. Instead of a lump sum, benefits can be paid as a family income benefit, with annual payments until the end of the term.

Clients can add children’s CI protection and fracture-plus protection, too. There are no general exclusions. Instead, they are considered on a case-by-case basis. Rather than long winded medico-legal definitions for conditions such as stroke, heart attack and multiple sclerosis, the products pay out simply if a UK consultant says such an event has occurred.

The cancer definition includes all malignant skin cancers. Terminal illness benefit applies the normal 12-month rule but also pays out on diagnosis of stage 4 cancer, motor neurone disease, Parkinson-plus syndromes and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, regardless of life expectancy.

One of the most interesting features is the payout planner, which enables clients to contractually gift the life insurance benefit so it can be paid out fast on death. Also very interesting is the fact that, if the CI definitions or product features are improved in the future, existing clients will be contacted and their policies updated (although that may incur an optional higher premium).

Children’s CI is a separate policy, meaning non–parents do not pay for cover they do not get. Cover can be from £10,000 to £100,000 and added or removed at any time.

Joint life cover is not available (again because that could give rise to having no cover after the first death/event), but a multi-cover discount applies.

Guardian takes an alternative view – its heart attack, stroke and MS definitions are a model of clarity and common sense

When it comes to added value services the company’s Halo claims team provides access to medical, legal and financial experts, in most cases at no cost to the client.

Guardian Anytime offers up to four virtual GP appointments a year, plus physiotherapy, a second medical opinion and mental health support.

It is good to welcome a fresh face, but new insurers need to offer something different as well as being keenly priced. Guardian aims to achieve this by taking an alternative view in some very important areas. The heart attack, stroke and MS definitions are a model of clarity and common sense.

The products bristle with such attention to detail. It will be interesting to see how well they are received by advisers.

Andy Couchman is co-chairman of Protection Review 

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