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It pays to Pioneer

The champion of the week is Pioneer, which paid out on 96 per cent of income protection claims last year.

The firm’s statistics are slightly down from the 96.89 per cent of claims it paid in 2006 but it is still thrilled.

Musculoskeletal and back injuries accounted for 32 per cent of claims and operations and fractures resulted in the second and third highest number of claims. Dental and optical injuries accounted for 8 per cent of claims last year.

Chief executive Andy Chapman has urged other income protection providers to publish claims statistics, after a recent dispute about the merits of doing so between Lifesearch and the Association of British Insurers.

He says: “We believe it is vital to publicise claims statistics to reassure policyholders and intermediaries of the importance and value of this crucial form of protection insurance. We were the first provider to reveal our income protection claims statistics and are committed to doing so annually.

If the income protection market is to reach full potential providers have a responsibility to be open and transparent with intermediaries and consumers.”

Meanwhile Axa has responded to adviser demands and introduced a roving underwriter service where underwriters visit advisers around the country to answer their protection queries.

The underwriters will talk to Axa’s key accounts about FSA guideline changes, technical medical queries and business protection and financial underwriting. Chief underwriter for protection Mike Taylor says it the first time a UK protection provider has offered a roving underwriter service.

He says: “Just a few years ago underwriting was seen as a back office function but it is now part of the sharp end of protection sales. Our key accounts have requested more access to our underwriting team which is why we have decided to bring in roving underwriters to be deployed in the field.”

And Bright Grey has boosted its guaranteed rates by adding indexation to life and critical illness cover in an effort to guard against inflation.

Head of intermediary sales Kevin Stevens says it makes sense to consider inflation given the increasing utility bills, food, drink and fuel prices contributing to the rise in the cost of living.

He says adding indexation offers excellent value for money by maintaining the true value of a client’s protection and also means cover can be increased every year without the need for medical information.

He says: “Indexation is an immensely valuable option in the adviser’s toolkit. Selecting the indexation option, at no extra cost, gives their clients the added piece of mind that should they be ill during the term of the plan, they still have the ability to increase their cover.”

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