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Virgin fails to win over critics of its Big V plan

Provider faces claims that cancer plan ‘plays right into hands of those campaigning for advice’

Virgin’s defence of its Big V cancer cover product has failed to win over advisers.

Following widespread industry censure of the direct-only product, which is underwritten by Scottish Widows, Virgin sent out a letter this week claiming that critics are misrepresenting it.

The firm claims it is untrue that customers will have no redress to the Financial Ombudsman Service or that people with a history of cancer in their family will not be covered.

It adds that the product is not covered by the ABI definitions because it is not a crit- ical-illness product.

Industry commentators have hit back at Virgin’s claims, saying that direct-sales cust- omers will have no redress to the FOS over suitability issues.

They say while Virgin does not adopt the ABI cancer definitions because The Big V is not a CI product, it has been comparing it with CI on a price basis, which could confuse consumers.

Virgin has also been slammed for claiming that family history of cancer will not prevent people getting cover because its literature does not mention that those with immediate family members under 55 who have or have had cancer will pay higher premiums.

British Insurance managing director Simon Burgess says this will prevent many younger consumers – the target market – from buying the product because it will be too expensive.

Burgess says: “Ultimately, those with the greatest need will be denied cover or will pay a higher premium. For consumers with relatives who have suffered cancer, it is like offering umb- rellas when the sun is shining.”

Scottish Equitable Protect press manager Mark Locke says: “What about those with family members under 55 who have had cancer? Surely this plays right into the hands of those campaigning for advice?”

Widows protection marketing manager Nick Kirwan says: “We would hope to accept the majority at standard rates but everyone will have the chance to see the cost before they click yes or no.”


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