Moving on to the main useful features and strong points of the plan, Rutter has a list: “Moving home option, although this is pretty standard in such plans, ability to reschedule over a longer term, 50 per cent children's cover, no apparent upper limit on mortgage interest rate covered and high non-medical indemnity limits.”
Moore also goes into detail: “The list of conditions covered is comprehensive and is worldwide, which may benefit those clients who then move overseas with work but retain a property in the UK. Children's cover is always a good option and in my experience has been popular with parents.”
Upsall is more specific, and says: “Particularly useful for covering mortgages.”
Overy picks up on different areas: “Flexibility, term, sum assured extension, buy back option for life cover, unit linked – therefore possible return at end of term or on surrender.”
The panel is once again in agreement when assessing the range of illnesses covered by the plan.
Moore says: “Wide range with very clear and comprehensive policy definitions.”
Upsall says: “Very good and wide ranging.” Overy feels that it compares favourably with other companies.
Rutter also says: “Comprehensive in line with several other providers.”
The panel is positive when considering the flexibility offered by Permanent's product.
Overy says: “Permanent may have found a niche market by using unit linking with a mortgage protection plan and the buy back option is good, provided premiums are reasonable.”
Rutter is enthusiastic: “Good. Adaptable to client's changing circumstances. On the underwriting side, I have found Permanent's use of paramedics is welcomed by busy clients.”
Upsall says: “Very good, especially increases available for marriage and children. Also the ability to have joint names.”
Moore feels that the plan has good flexibilities with extension options.
Rutter and Overy are able to find some drawbacks in the plan. Rutter says: “Reviewable premiums, although some clients prefer the possibility of a decrease on review. I would have preferred a 10 year review period, not five.”
Overy says: “The premium guarantee is only for five years. It is not possible to add income protection to make a combined plan.”
Upsall is more positive, and says there are no disadvantages as far as he can see. Moore agrees with this, saying that none are immediately apparent.
Moving on to Permanent's reputation, the panel is in agreement. Upsall simply calls it: “Very good.”
Moore adds: “I have used them on many occasions for income protection and found them to be very efficient in the processing of policies. Claims have been dealt with well.”
Rutter says: “Excellent. Although not a household name with the public, they are well-known and highly regarded by IFAs as a protection specialist. They are innovative, have competitive premiums and first-class administration. Does the client or IFA ask for anything more?”
Overy adds: “Very good reputation – I would have no hesitation in recommending Permanent subject only to offering best advice.”
Turning to the companies providing the main competition, Rutter lists: “Scottish Provident's self assurance. Also Zurich, Norwich Union and Swiss Life.”
Moore mentions Legal & General and Friends Provident and Upsall picks out Zurich.
Overy says main competitors are: “Plans which offer critical illness cover only (which Permanent does as well). Combination plans which can wrap other plans such as income protection into the same plan – this avoids paying more plan charges.”
On the subject of premiums for the plan, Overy feels that the minimum premium is in line with other providers.
Rutter and Upsall are in agreement, saying that they are okay, and what you would normally expect.
Moore is lukewarm: “Permanent appear more competitive on smoker rates than non-smoker and have not entered the market on the most competitive form from the illustrations raised.”