The 10 standout product developments & innovations of 2021
It’s that time of year again when everyone reflects on the highs and lows of the last 12 months. 2021 has certainly given us a lot to talk about, from billionaires flying into space, online Reddit traders taking on Wallstreet and of course an historic roll-out of the vaccination programme. For the protection industry, 2021 has been a year in which we’ve adjusted from the challenges of 2020 and seen insurers gradually lift restrictions, first imposed when the pandemic hit and began to release some truly innovative and interesting product developments.
Whilst it’s perhaps been a slower year for announcements than previous years, understandable given the uncertainty that continues over Covid-19 and the health impacts, looking back across all of the updates we’ve published insurers certainly haven’t stood still. As the year draws to a close, we bring you a round-up of our 10 standout product updates and developments from the last 12 months.
CAN ROYAL LONDON’S “UNDERWRITE LATER” ANSWER ADVISERS MEDICAL EVIDENCE WOES?
Way back at the beginning of the year in January, Royal London announced their new ‘Underwrite Later’ option for business protection insurance. Against the backdrop of increasing challenges in obtaining medical evidence in a timely fashion, Underwrite Later gives advisers and their clients a solution to getting cover on risk more quickly, whilst waiting for evidence to be returned.
HOW DOES SCOTTISH WIDOWS’ CLINIC IN A POCKET COMPARE?
In March Scottish Widows became the latest insurer to add a virtual GP service to their protection products. Over the last 18 months by far the most popular “added value benefit” in terms of views of articles and selections within our various benchmarking tools has been virtual GP services. Whilst clearly driven by difficulties in being able to visit a GP face to face throughout the pandemic, the general consensus from advisers we speak to is that the value of such services will not diminish whenever the pandemic eases.
GUARDIAN TO PROVIDE FREE VIRTUAL GP SERVICE TO ADVISERS
Another GP service announcement, but this time something a little different. In July Guardian announced they would be making their virtual GP service available to advisers, for a period of 6 months at no cost. This was a fantastic idea and something we wholeheartedly support, it’s certainly the best way of helping advisers understand the value of such support services. You’ve still got until the 31st December to access this benefit.
THE EXETER LAUNCH MORE FLEXIBLE INCOME FIRST WITH A UNIQUE NEW FEATURE
In July The Exeter launched a new income protection plan, Income First, replacing their Income One Plus and Pure Protection Plus products. The new plan provides the best of both offerings plus new and intriguing features not seen before.
LEGAL & GENERAL UNVEIL NEW UNIQUE SUPPORT BENEFIT
Hot on the heels of the new IP launch from The Exeter, Legal & General unveiled new additions to their Umbrella Benefits, designed to support clients in addition to their core cover. As well as a new fracture cover benefit, Legal & General also added a new and unique Private Diagnostics benefit.
LV= UNVEIL NEW MORTGAGE AND RENT COVER AND ENTER EXEC IP MARKET
July was the month of new product launches, with LV= announcing two new income protection plans: Executive Income Protection and a unique new Mortgage and Rent Cover. As the awareness of income protection insurance has steadily increased over the last few years, we’ve seen a number of insurers expand their range of income protection products, to cater for different consumer needs. The two new products from LV= sit alongside their existing Income Protection Cover and Personal Sick Pay plans and help provide more solutions for different client needs.
LEGAL & GENERAL UNVEIL NEW KEY PERSON INCOME PROTECTION
In September Legal & General added a new Key Person Income Protection plan to their range of business protection solutions. They sit alongside just two other insurers – Aegon and Royal London – in offering this benefit. In this insight we looked in more detail at the new policy and some of the main differences between Key Person Income Protection and other plans on the market
VITALITY UNVEIL NEW SUPPORT TO HELP CLIENTS LIVE IN BETTER HEALTH FOR LONGER
Last month saw two announcements and updates from Vitality, the first of which covered their unique Vitality Programme. Perhaps the most significant aspect of that announcement was the way in which they will now offer personalised support to clients, to help them make health improvements and hopefully ultimately live in better health for longer.
VITALITY REINTRODUCE INCOME PROTECTION EARNINGS GUARANTEE
At the end of November, Vitality announced the re-introduction of their income protection benefit Earnings Guarantee, allowing clients to provide financial evidence at the time of applying (or within 6 months) and ‘lock-in’ 100% of the monthly benefit amount. Originally removed at the start of the pandemic, this feature is something we’ve long called for on more IP plans and we wholeheartedly welcome Vitality’s move in re-adding this to their plans.
GUARDIAN UNVEIL NEUROLOGICAL SUPPORT SERVICE
The final update of the year? Who knows, but on Wednesday, to coincide with the Protection Review Conference, Guardian announced a new partnship with Krysalis Consultancy. ‘Neur0-Logicial’ is designed to provide support and guidance to clients diagnosed with and claiming for neurological conditions such as brain injury or stroke.