Mitchell says: “The plan is unusual in so far as only one application form is needed, but the policies themselves are separate legal entities. This does give greater flexibility. There is a wide range of choice as to the types of cover provided, ie level, decreasing or increasing and the vast majority of clients needs should therefore be addressed by this contract.”
Crossan says a good feature is: “The ability to arrange levels of cover within the menu system without reference to other elements of the plan. This means that the critical-illness cover does not necessarily have to be issued on a similar basis to say life cover.”
Wingar likes the fact that the plan provides multiproducts in one package, and that it is from a company that is competitive in the areas covered.
Looking at the range of illnesses covered under the critical illness cover, Crossan feels that it is quite comprehensive and comparable with other products on the market. He also mentions that it is fully compliant with the ABI statement of principles regarding critical-illness cover.
Wingar simply calls the range: “Comprehensive.”
Mitchell says: “The range of illnesses seems comprehensive, critical-illness cover is the area that normally causes most concern. Unlike some of the competition, Friends Provident does not have a number of different definitions for permanent total disability, which does make the contract therefore easier to understand.”
Considering the plan's flexibility, Wingar calls it good. Mitchell says: “I feel the contract is very flexible due mainly to the fact that the individual elements of the contract are set up as separate legal entities. This therefore allows changes to take place in the future without disrupting the whole arrangement. The contract definitions themselves seem generally wider than the competition and the contract includes a discount when a client takes out income protection at the same time as life cover.”
Crossan says: “It is very good and in fact, from the design of the plan, it would seem that Friends Provident have aimed to provide greater flexibility than a number of the policies presently available on the market.”
The panel look to different aspects of select protection when considering the plan's disadvantages. Mitchell feels that the maximum ceasing age of 70 is a drawback.
Crossan says: “If a restricted benefits selection is made within the plan, ie life insurance and critical illness only, there is the potential of obtaining this cover elsewhere at a lower rate.”
Wingar says: “Term assurance should have offered a renewable option.”
Moving on to Friends Provident's reputation, Crossan says: “In recent years, the levels of service and products provided by Friends Provident has improved, as has their reputation.”
Wingar feels that Friends is well established in the income protection market, and that they have been competitive in the term assurance market recently.
Mitchell says: “Friends Provident has tended to promote themselves more recently as a pensions office, and has shown great innovation with its new generation contract and e-commerce generally.”
The panel all mention Scottish Provident when asked which plans will provide the most competition to the Friends Provident plan.
Crossan also mentions Norwich Union, Scottish Equitable, Scottish Amicable, Skandia and Swiss Life. Mitchell says: “Companies such as Scottish Equitable, Norwich Union, Swiss Life and Zurich Life offer a range of term assurance policies but they are not structured on a menu basis. The Friends Provident contract is worthy of merit as the premium rates are guaranteed rather than reviewable, which the vast majority of clients prefer.”
When asked for their opinion on the plans premium, the panel are largely in agreement. Wingar feels that the premium levels would make the plan accessible to most people.