The recent publication of our protection product ratings on Protection Guru has highlighted that there is a wide range of options for advisers when making recommendations to clients. Across each benefit type there are low cost and comprehensive solutions with some providers playing in the low cost space, others in the comprehensive end and some in both. Very few insurers achieved gold across all product types, however one that did is Royal London and in this article we explain some of the key features that led to them achieving this feat.
As regular readers of Protection Guru will have seen, the features we benchmarked within each product type and the scale of impact these had on the overall medal was decided by adviser use of our Quality Analyser system (http://www.qualityanalyser.com). For each benefit type we analysed the MI from this system to ascertain the most selected features and how these had been prioritized. Based on this we were able to select up to 10 features to benchmark insurer propositions against in each rating.
General features used within all benefits
Royal London scored strongly in all areas of claims process. They highlighted good training for their claims handlers and like most other insurers will provide the claimant with a single point of contact throughout the claims journey. For life contracts they include a £10,000 immediate payment to cover the costs of a funeral and make every effort to ensure that the information required for the claim is only provided once. Importantly, they provide details of any additional services that may help the claimant such as their added value benefits and where the claimant is happy for the information to be shared they will keep the adviser in the loop with regard to the process of the claim.
Added Value Benefits
Royal London offer a wide range of added value benefits across all product types via Helping Hand. This includes counselling services, second medical opinions, rehabilitation services, nutritional support and Legal services. These services are not just available at point of claim but at any point in the term of the policy. Whilst in most benefits they achieved a gold for Added Value Benefits, in some they only achieved a silver and this was mainly due to access to GP’s making up substantial proportion of the score which Royal London do not currently offer.
Key Critical Illness Features
Our independent panel of doctors’ analysis of adult conditions
The recent upgrade to critical illness cover in March (see more details on this here) really gave Royal London’s ratings a boost helping them to achieve a gold medal in this area for all benefit types that include critical illness. Of particular note within this upgrade was the removal of drug and alcohol exclusions from a number of conditions. Across the highest incidence conditions our doctors scored Royal London’s main cancer definition at 100%, their heart attack at 98% and stroke at 94%.
Our independent panel of doctors’ analysis of child conditions
Where a client takes the Enhanced Child Critical Illness option the Royal London plan scored particularly well as it includes a number of child specific conditions which increased their score compared to the standard children’s cover. In the three highest incidence conditions for children they scored 100% for the main cancer definition, 15% for intensive care (the highest score for this was 25%) and 100% for heart valve/replacement or repair.
Income Protection Features
Minimum Benefit Guarantee
Like most other insurers Royal London offer a minimum benefit guarantee of £1,500 per month within their income protection plan. A big difference to other insurers however, is they do not require the client to be working in order to qualify for this benefit. If a client is working less than 16 hours at point of claim they will be required to meet their serious illness or everyday tasks definition of incapacity to qualify however most other insurers will only pay the minimum benefit guarantee if the client is working a minimum number of hours. For more information on this click here
Sum Assured Limits
Royal London offer a benefit of up to 65% of the clients first £15,000 of earnings and 55% of any earnings over this. This compares favorably with most other insurers across most income brackets (as can be seen here). Additionally, the highest benefit Royal London will offer overall is £250,000 per annum which is the joint highest in the market.
Mortgage Protection key features
Interest rate options
Royal London’s mortgage guarantee was key to their high score here as if added to the plan this will guarantee to repay the outstanding loan or mortgage as long as the term of the loan or mortgage is the same as the term of cover when started and the amount of the loan or mortgage has not increased without the cover being increased equally. This is a fantastic feature that provides a safety net against increased interest rates as described here.
When taking out cover to protect against a liability it is important that the cover is in place when the liability starts. Where cover is for a mortgage, the liability actually starts when contracts are exchanged, whilst the mortgage start date may be a week or more later. In such scenarios free cover during the completion of the property purchase is extremely valuable. In such scenarios, Royal London provide the lesser of the sum assured or £1,000,000 free cover for up to 90 days with relatively few exclusions. For more information click here
Business Protection key features
Like with mortgages once a business protection need is established it is important that cover is put in place quickly to protect the business against unforeseen illnesses or even the death of a shareholder or key person. Like free cover, immediate cover provides an element of protection whilst a business protection application is being assessed. Although Royal London do not offer the highest sum assured for this (£1,000,000), immediate cover is offered to those where a rating may be applied, they do not require financial evidence before it will be provided and only exclude suicide and hazardous pursuits.
Business Protection Support
The setting up of a business protection plan is possibly one of the more complicated tasks for protection advisers. As there will be requirements for trusts to be completed and a host financial details to collate many advisers will need support not just in setting up the plan but also to review the companies needs. Royal London have a specialist business protection team that are made up of senior underwriters with detailed understanding of trusts and corporate law, accounting practices and corporate tax. Royal London also offer a range of training to advisers including fact sheets, case studies, online training, videos, webinars and roadshows.
The Royal London product range is both broad and comprehensive and we congratulate them on obtaining a gold in every category of our ratings. To see more details about our overall ratings and the medals that each insurers achieved click here