The NHS is generally seen as one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Indeed in 2017 it was ranked number one by the Commonwealth Fund, a US think tank, when compared to 11 “well off” countries. Whilst the range of treatments available in the UK are vast, how would your clients cope if more effective or even lifesaving treatment was only available elsewhere in the world? This week we look at which insurers offer support to clients or their children to help them obtain the very best medical care in such scenarios.

Obtaining any medical treatment elsewhere in the world is expensive. A recent report from the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that the average cost of a heart bypass operation was $75,345 in the U.S, $15,742 in the Netherlands and $36,509 in Switzerland. For many clients, such costs would be prohibitive, however what if one of these countries had a treatment that was effective or curative and not currently available in the UK?

Currently, only a small number of providers offer support if a client is seriously ill and better treatment is only available overseas. For AIG and Zurich this is available to the children of the life assured for whom they will make an additional one-off payment at claim if, in the opinion of the treating consultant and their own Chief Medical Officer:

  • the child is unable to receive treatment for the children’s critical illness in the UK that is effective in curing or preventing further deterioration of the condition; and
  • a treatment that is effective, curative or prevents further deterioration is available overseas.

In the event of a successful claim both companies will double the amount of the children’s critical illness benefit. For AIG this will result in an additional 50% of the total sum assured to a maximum of £35,000. For Zurich the additional amount paid will be the lower of £25,000 or 50% of the sum assured, however the original child’s claim has to be on one of their enhanced conditions. For both insurers, if the criteria are met and both parents have separate cover, it could potentially lead to the claim being paid twice.

Aviva take a different approach by offering an additional add on benefit called Global Treatment. Unlike AIG and Zurich this benefit is a chargeable extra at £4 per month, however this covers both the life assured and their children. Instead of offering a one-off additional lump sum, Aviva have teamed up with Best Doctors and Further Underwriting International to provide a service that will actually source, arrange and pay treatment anywhere in the world. Best Doctors will provide the client with a second medical opinion on the condition which will include an analysis of the diagnosis and recommended treatment options. If the best treatment is available elsewhere in the world the case can be passed to Further Underwriting International who will provide options to the client in terms of hospitals. Once the client has decided on the treatment plan and hospital, all arrangements for hospital admission, travel and accommodation are taken care of. Below we have highlighted the key costs covered:

Aviva will also look to support their clients once returning to the UK by covering ongoing medication costs up to £50,000. This covers the costs of approved medications that are not funded, or only partially funded, by the NHS. As always there are limitations to the amount that will be covered overall. In this case the client is limited to £1,000,000 in a policy year and up to a maximum of £2,000,000 over the policy term.

Whilst Aviva, AIG and Zurich provide their benefits to the children of the life assured, there are age restrictions on when this can be accessed. These are highlighted below:

    Another clear difference between the offerings is what conditions will actually qualify for the additional payment or in the case of Aviva, Global Treatment. AIG will pay the additional lump sum if the child of the life assured meets the criteria after claiming on any child condition. Zurich will pay only pay the additional lump sum if the child meets the criteria after claiming on one of their “Enhanced” children’s critical illness conditions. Aviva on the other hand state specific conditions or medical procedures as highlighted below:

    Whilst it may be unusual that a client or their child will suffer from a condition that can be more effectively treated elsewhere in the world, in the rare cases where they do, these benefits could be the difference between life and death.

    The offerings from AIG and Zurich are vastly different to that offered by Aviva, however they all aim to help solve the same problem. Whilst the AIG and Zurich offerings are limited to the children of the life assured only, they are provided at no additional cost. The fact that AIG cover all child critical illnesses is also a big benefit. If the worst came to the worst and a client did need to obtain medical treatment abroad, Aviva’s approach of taking all the administrative burden away from the client by organising everything for them is commendable. The last thing someone will want to think about is where they are going to stay or how they are going to get to the hospital if they or their child are seriously ill.

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