Scottish Provident and Skandia Life have topped a new Lifesearch critical-illness report card launched exclusively in Money Marketing this week.
The two firms beat nine other major providers, scoring 92 points out of a possible 120, derived from rating the prov-iders' types of rates offered (guaranteed or reviewable), conditions covered, service, communication, flexibility and quality of underwriting.
Lifesearch says it has developed the rating system – which is intended to be published every six months – in a bid to help consumers, intermediaries and providers understand the critical-illness market better by rating providers in categories.
Joint second on 89 points are Liverpool Victoria and relative newcomer Bright Grey, which was highly praised for its underwriting.
Scottish Equitable got only 63 points and Scottish Widows came last with only 53 points.
Last month, it was announced that protection expert Nick Kirwan had resigned as head of marketing and product development at ScotProv and was joining Widows as marketing director for protection.
Lifesearch rated Widows poorly on its competitiveness and flexibility as well as its decision to offer only reviewable rates.
Senior technical adviser Kevin Carr says: “This is a comprehensive, independent analysis of the UK's leading critical-illness insurance providers which will help consumers and intermediaries better understand the critical-illness market. The analysis demonstrates the extent to which areas such as policy conditions, service and underwriting can vary in addition to just looking at price.”
Widows senior protection marketing manager Rod McKie says: “LifeSearch has a particular view, as do any IFAs. We are increasing market share in the industry and many IFAs see us as value for money and feel our product is a good one.”