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Norwich Union looks to a sure future

When asked to pick out the main useful features and strong points of the product, Pack says: "Norwich Union is the largest UK insurer, together with Age Concern 750,000 clients are a formidable force."

Spencer likes the option to pay either a single or regular premium, as well as the choice of benefit levels. He also mentions the discount for joint life applications. Colsell agrees, adding that the flexibility offered is a bonus.

Both says he appreciates the ability to alter the level of cover after the plan has started, independent living equipment, the paid-up benefit option, level and retail price index linked cover and the fact that care benefits are tax free.

Considering the benefits available within the product, Spencer says: "There would appear to be a good range of benefits available, depending on the level of cover selected ie blue, silver or gold, which gives the option of selecting a benefit level from £2,400 to £40,000 a year to suit individual circumstances."

Colsell likes the independent living benefit of three times the monthly benefits on the failure of one activity of daily living (ADL) for all three levels of cover. She also feels the independent care consultant is extremely important for those who do not have family support or whose families do not fully understand this market.

Both calls the benefits: "Very comprehensive." Pack says they appear to cover the range of benefits required by a changing marketplace.

Moving on to the flexibility of the product, Colsell says: "Very good, provided that the client’s needs are reassessed to take advantage of these possible changes. There is a requirement for a detailed review."

Both calls it impressive, while Spencer says: "The product would appear to be extremely flexible. There is flexibility in the premium options, single premium, regular level premiums and regular increasing premiums." Pack also mentions the ability to change the level of cover.

Casting an eye over the disadvantages of the product, Both says: "The life insurance rider seems a bit pointless and confusing. Apparently it can run up to age 70, or for five years if the client is up to the age of 80. Essentially, it just seems to be approximately the same as a return of fund – why not just call it that?"

Spencer says that, unless you build in life cover to the product, there would be no return to the estate on death before receiving any benefits. He feels that this is the biggest single obstacle to people buying this type of product.

Pack agrees, and adds: "The future costs are unknown. Also, Government changes in legislation could cause problems."

Colsell feels the number of options available could be confusing for the elderly. She also mentions there is concern about the assessment of the ADLs.

Evaluating the premiums, Both calls them reasonable, while Pack feels the minimum premium is a bit low to achieve the aim of the policy. Colsell says: "I understand they are expensive for older ages."

Assessing Norwich Union’s reputation, Spencer says: "Generally a very good reputation. There was a time when there were serious concerns over administration problems, however these seem to have been resolved and the company has become more efficient."

Colsell disagrees, saying the company is currently suffering in terms of its administration capabilities. She adds that the public perception is likely to be that of a large, financially secure, well-known name.

Pack calls the reputation: "Very good, although the propsed name change could cause problems." Both calls it generally very good, but once again mentions it is being let down by weak administration.

Looking at the main competition, the panel lists PPP, Scottish Widows, Scottish Amicable, Skandia Life, Prudential and Bupa.


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