Critical Illness Insurance Another Scam?

Unless you have substantial savings, even in the UK, contacting a serious illness, such as cancer, can be a very costly affair. Above all, not only do you need to consider how contracting such a critical illness will affect your savings in any medical care bills, but you also need to consider that you may well not be able to earn any income to cover you day-to-day expenditure. As a result, making sure you take out a critical illness insurance may well be one of the wisest and astute financial decisions you make.

What Is Critical Illness Insurance?

In short, a critical illness insurance policy is very much like any other insurance policy you take out. Here, however, your premiums go towards insuring that you do not contract a critical illness. In the event that you do contract a critical illness, your UK insurance provider will pay you out a tax-free lump sum to help you cover the day-to-day costs of having to live with your new medical condition.

Are There Any Limitations With Critical Illness Insurance?

Yes; it is essential that you look at the list of critical illnesses that your insurance policy covers, as these will be the only illness under which the policy will pay-out. In other words, the UK insurance provider will not pay-out on the policy simply because you have a doctor’s certificate that you have a critical illness, it needs to be one of the designated critical illness.

Moreover, if you are considered by the UK insurance provider to be a high risk for example, if you smoke then it is likely that either you will not be able to obtain the critical illness insurance, or your insurance premiums will be significantly higher than if this were not to the case. Importantly, you will need to disclose whether or not you have any existing conditions, in which case these will likely not be included, and whether or not your family has a history of the illnesses set out in the policy, in which case this will likely affect your premium payments.

How Will I Be Paid?

As mentioned, with a critical illness insurance your UK insurance underwriter will pay you out a lump-sum tax free amount once you contract one of the critical illnesses listed in the policy. Having paid out the lump-sum amount, your relationship with the UK insurance provider will come to an end. In other words, you will not have an ongoing relationship with the insurance provider paying you intermediate payments.

Is It Worth Having Critical Illness Insurance?

The question of whether or not there is any value in you having a critical illness insurance will depending largely on your age, expenses, and whether or not you have any other insurance. Essentially, critical illness insurance covers an area for which other types of insurance can be obtained. However, unlike other types of insurance, this is a very specific insurance policy paying out for a very specific purpose. That said, there is a strong argument that you can never really have too much insurance and will numbers seemingly showing that more and more of us contracting critical illnesses as we grow as an aging population, this type of UK insurance is always useful.

Critical Illness Insurance. Critically Important Time To Take Cover

Back in 1999, the Imperial Cancer Research Fund stated that one in every three people in Britain will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their life. With rapid medical advances the chances of survival from a major illness are improving but the consequences of suffering such an illness continue to be substantial and life-changing.

Critical illness insurance policies are designed to help you cope with the changes which will be necessary should you be diagnosed with a “qualifying medical condition”. Most policies will pay out following a diagnosis of heart disease, cancer, stroke, renal failure, paralysis, major organ transplant and coronary artery bypass surgery as well as a range of other conditions. There is normally a one-off tax free payment which is intended to assist you with costs, typically the need to adapt your home or car or maybe re-train for a different occupation. It’s not only the bread-winner that can benefit from this type of cover and you should take account of child care and housekeeping costs which would be involved should Mum be out of action.

Unfortunately, at a time when most people are suffering from the shock of learning that they have been diagnosed with a critical illness, they and their families may learn some additional disturbing news. The insurance industries latest figures show that, on average, around a quarter of all claims are rejected!

As soon as a claim is made, the insurance company will request a huge amount of information from your doctor. It’s quite likely that much of this information is not relevant to the illness for which the claim relates. The insurer is using this information to ascertain whether or not the insured has been completely truthful on the original insurance application form.

The reason for this is what the insurers call non-disclosure and if any medical information has been omitted, they can use this as grounds for refusing the claim.

It appears that the non-disclosure may not be related to the critical illness. Claims have been turned down for various reasons, including the case of a woman with breast cancer whose case was rejected because she hadn’t listed treatment for depression on the original proposal form.

The rejection rates are shown as follows:

Company % of rejected claims

Scottish Equitable Project 28%

Norwich Union 26%

Friends Provident 25%

Legal and General 22%

Bupa 21.5%

Skandia 21%

Prudential 20%

Standard Life 20%

Scottish Widows 18%

Scottish Provident 11%

Scottish Equitable Guardian 10%

Average 23.5%

Despite the insurers claim that these rejections are perfectly legal, the Law Commission appears to think differently. There has been a consultation document published recently and the Commission makes the statement “It is possible for an applicant to act reasonably and honestly and yet still fail to meet the duty of disclosure.” The conclusions of these consultations will be reported on as soon as they are available.

It is therefore extremely important that when applying for this very valuable form of insurance, you disclose all previous illnesses. It’s probable that if you have to claim, then your medical records will be thoroughly examined and if the insurers consider you omitted medical information, they may “throw out” the request.

Compare companies for the best rates. Read the small print. Spend some considerable time in listing medical conditions. Relax it may never happen.

Critical Illness Insurance. Concerns For Cautious Customers

The Financial Services Authority has recently carried out a review of the way in which information and advice is given to retail customers purchasing financial products. One of the products which they considered was the sale of Critical Illness Cover.

Critical Illness Cover is often taken out by people taking out a mortgage, usually as part of a term assurance policy. It may also be purchased as a stand-alone product. The policy will pay out a lump sum if the borrower becomes seriously ill with one of a list of specified illnesses, commonly cancer, heart conditions, stroke etc.; this will help with loss of earnings due to the illness and general life-style changes which may be the result of the illness.

Firms selling critical illness cover are required to comply with certain standards and although these are being met reasonably well, the survey showed that there could be some improvement in the way in which they could help the customer to gain a better understanding of the product.

The FSA have visited firms and employed mystery shoppers to look specifically at how compliancy is working out with regards to sales processes when selling critical illness cover.

Supervision visits were paid to 42 firms. Whilst in the main these were financial and mortgage advisers, they also included banks, building societies and insurers. The market research company, Research International, carried out 80 mystery shops to 51 firms in total, to report on what actually occurs.

Director of Retail Firms, Sarah Wilson, has said that whilst many of the findings were positive, a few problems had been identified. Initiatives have been launched in order to deal with them. The fair treatment of customers is of prime importance, especially with regard to making policy application forms and documents more easily understood. So far these changes seem to be helpful.

Critical illness cover is, however, complex and some of the problems cropped up in the context of the financial promotion of the schemes and general insurance documentation. Customers sometimes have difficulty in comprehending exactly what they are being sold. Therefore it is difficult for them to assess whether this is the correct cover for them, or whether a payment of income protection product would be more suitable.

The needs of the customer have to be taken into account and there should be a careful assessment of the type of protection which they need. However, where there were two or more types of policy, the cost was sometimes the only aspect taken into account when recommending the most suitable one. Other factors may have been left out of the equation, such as conditions covered or whether there were other products more suited to a particular client’s requirements.

Miss-selling is a risk, but most firms had taken reasonable measures to manage this. There were found to be good training programmes and risk based monitoring.

As is the case with prime mortgage payment products, customers have time to consider their options before they make the decision to purchase the cover.

The results of the survey offer some reassurance that the needs of the customer are being protected and any changes to be implemented can only offer change for the better.

Critical Illness Insurance. Are Your Children Insured?

Cover for your children is the most undervalued aspect of critical illness insurance. But as most policies automatically provide the cover as a free extra, we suspect that some policyholders don’t even know they’ve got it!

Most policies automatically insure your children albeit at a lower level of benefits than the main policyholders cover. But this cover is invaluable, especially if your child becomes critically ill and you need to take time off work to provide care.

Critical Illness insurance pays out a tax free capital sum if the policyholder, or one of their children, suffers one of the very serious illnesses scheduled on their policy. The only rider is that the claimant must survive at least 28 days after the diagnosis.

Scottish Provident, one of the UK’s largest critical illness insurers has announced that claims for children is now its fourth-largest cause for a claim. Says Nick Kirwan, their Protection Marketing Director, “Work takes a back seat when your child becomes ill. You may need to cut your working hours or even stop working altogether”.

If your critical illness policy does insure your children, then a payout from the policy gives you the financial flexibility to do just that. So how much will they pay out?

Most insurers will pay a proportion of total insured value if a child becomes critically ill. For example, Norwich Union will pay out 50% of the insured sum or 10,000 whichever is the lower and this cover includes adopted children and step children. Standard Life and Legal & General also pay up to 50% with Standard setting the maximum payout at 25,000 and in L&G’s case it’s 15,000.

Cover never starts as soon as the child is born. With some policies cover starts up at 3 months but others wait as long as three years. Ideally, you want cover to start as early as possible.

Another other point to understand is that if the main policyholder has a claim, then the policy pays out and terminates they can’t claim more than once. But if there is a claim for a child, the policy does not terminate the cover for the policyholders continues unaffected. And if you start or add to your family after you’ve started the policy there’s no need to inform the insurer as the cover automatically covers all your children.

But not all insurers will insure your children. Neither the Halifax, National Westminster nor Nationwide Life include any cover for children. So if you have or intend to have a family, it’s vital that you tell your adviser and then he or she will ensure your policy includes the necessary cover.

And that brings us to the topic of professional advice. You can buy Critical Illness insurance online all by yourself but honestly it isn’t worth the risk. In our experience over 50 % of DIY buyers don’t get it exactly right. There is little standardisation within critical illness insurance so you’re unlikely to get your ideal policy if you buy on price alone. It’s one of those situations where a low price can turn out to be a costly mistake!

In order to get the ideal policy your adviser need to understand how much you can afford and what aspects of cover are most important to you. It’s then a matter of using experience and product knowledge to find the best options. If this sounds like a receipt of throwing your discounts down the drain, it isn’t.

Very few high street brokers will give you any discount but shop online with one of the specialist critical illness brokers and you’ll get full service and a discount.

How do you find them? Well actually, it’s really easy. Just type in “Critical illness insurance” into your favourite search engine – but ignore the web sites run by the insurers themselves they just offer you their own policies and you really need a broker who can consider the whole market.

Credit Protection Insurance — Just Another Consumer Rip-Off

Credit protection insurance is a good example of a consumer rip-off that affects millions of people, yet receives little attention in the financial media. Simply stated, you should NEVER buy “credit protection insurance,” or a “payment protection plan” or any other similar type of credit-related insurance. Let’s take a look at how these programs work and why they are a bad deal for the average consumer.

First, let’s dispense with the scam version of this insurance. With identity theft in the news so much lately, con artists have set up telemarketing boiler rooms to call people and try to scare them into buying worthless credit insurance products. Representatives will try to convince you that you’re at risk if someone gets hold of your card and starts making fraudulent purchases in your name. When they call, they may even pretend to be from the “security department” of your bank. In fact, they may actually be part of an identify theft ring, with the goal of getting you to disclose personal information over the phone. Or they may simply be trying to make a fast buck by selling you an insurance policy that you absolutely don’t need.

Under Federal law, you are limited to a maximum of $50 liability for unauthorized use of your credit card. If you didn’t authorize a charge, don’t pay it! Follow your credit card bank’s procedure for disputing bogus charges. You simply don’t need insurance to protect yourself from a situation that is already covered by Federal law!

Now, what about those “payment protection plans” offered directly by the big credit card banks? These are plans that promise to cover your minimum monthly payments for an extended period of time (usually 12-24 months) if you get laid off from your job, become hospitalized due to an accident or illness, or become disabled. On the surface, a plan like this sounds like a pretty good idea. After all, how could you keep up with your payments if you suddenly lost your job or became too ill to work?

Of course, you should not be carrying balances on your credit cards anyway. If everyone paid their balances in full every month, then credit protection insurance would not even exist in its current form. You are charged for the insurance based on the amount of debt you’re carrying on the card, so if the balance is zero, then there is no fee. In fact, some bank representatives use this as part of the sales pitch when trying to entice people to sign up for that “free 3-month trial” on their payment protection plan! They attempt to talk you into adding the insurance now, while you don’t need it and when there is no cost, in the hope that one day you will start carrying a balance. By then, you’ll probably have forgotten you signed up, and you’ll wonder what those mysterious charges are on your statement every month.

If you do carry balances on your cards, credit protection insurance is still a very bad deal. To see why, let’s look at the math here. A typical loss protection plan costs 85 cents for every $100 of balance carried on the card. So if you’re carrying a debt of $5,000 on the credit card, it will cost you $42.50 per month to buy the insurance. Over the course of 12 months, you will spend $510 under this scenario. That’s equivalent to paying an extra 10% in annual interest!

A light bulb should be shining over your head right about now. Why not take that same $42.50 per month and use it to pay down the balance faster? Good question. When you consider that most consumers who have credit protection carry it year after year, without ever becoming eligible for a claim against the insurance policy, the amount of wasted money can add up to a truly staggering sum.

Continuing with our $5,000 example, with a typical minimum payment of $125/month, it will take more than 26 years to pay off the balance in full, at a cost of $7,115.42 in interest. By applying that extra $42.50 per month that would otherwise go toward the insurance, for a total monthly payment of $167.50, you’ll have the debt paid off in only 40 months! And you’ll have saved $5,435.22 in interest charges. It simply makes no sense to waste this money , especially when you consider that the credit protection plan is normally only good for 12-24 months anyway.

There’s another important factor involved here. Credit protection is also a bad deal because the eligibility requirements are so very restrictive. When you read the fine print, you’ll realize that there are all kinds of situations that aren’t covered. Let’s say, for example, that you’ve been fighting a medical condition for some time. So you buy the insurance thinking it’s a good idea. Eventually, you end up in the hospital for treatment and recovery. Can you breathe a little easier knowing your credit card payments are covered? Nope. Most of these policies have exclusions for pre-existing conditions. And there are numerous other loopholes that allow the bank to deny your claim under the policy. In view of the lousy math and the restrictive nature of this type of insurance, these programs should really be named “bank profit protection” instead of “credit protection insurance.” Instead of spending good money on an insurance plan that you will probably never use, you’re far better off applying that same amount toward paying off the debt early.

Credit Insurance: Is It Right for You?

Credit insurance protects the loan on the chance that you can’t make your payments. Credit insurance usually is optional, which means you don’t have to purchase it from the lender. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, says it’s against the law for a lender to deceptively include credit insurance (or other optional products) in your loan without your knowledge or permission.

There are four main varieties of credit insurance: Credit life insurance pays off all or some of your loan if you die. Credit disability insurance, also known as accident and health insurance, makes payments on the loan if you become ill or injured and can’t work. Involuntary unemployment insurance, also known as involuntary loss of income, makes your loan payments if you lose your job due to no fault of your own, such as a layoff. Credit property insurance protects personal property used to secure the loan if destroyed by events like theft, accident or natural disasters.

Shopping Tips

Before deciding to buy credit insurance from a lender, think about your needs, your options, and the rates you’re going to pay. You may decide you don’t need credit insurance. If you do, credit insurance can be an expensive form of insurance. For example, it may be less expensive and more practical for you to get life insurance than credit insurance. Before deciding to buy credit insurance, you should ask:

How much is the premium?

Will the premium be financed as part of the loan? If so, it will increase your loan amount and you’ll pay additional interest, and more for points (if points are on your loan).

Can you pay monthly instead of financing the entire premium as part of your loan?

How much lower would your monthly loan payment be without the credit insurance?

Will the insurance cover the full length of your loan and the full loan amount?

What are the limits and exclusions on payment of benefits – that is, spell out exactly what’s covered and what’s not.

Is there a waiting period before the coverage becomes effective?

If you have a co-borrower, what coverage does he or she have and at what cost?

Can you cancel the insurance? If so, what kind of refund is available?

Before you sign any loan papers, ask the lender whether the loan includes any charges for voluntary credit insurance. If you don’t want credit insurance, tell the lender. If the lender still pressures you to buy insurance, find another lender. And review your loan papers carefully to be sure they have been drawn up correctly. Lenders can’t deny you credit if you don’t buy optional credit insurance – and if you don’t buy it directly from them. If a lender tells you that you’ll only get the loan if you buy the optional credit insurance, report the lender to your state attorney general, your state insurance commissioner or the FTC. Consumers should ask these same questions about other extra products offered with their loan, such as auto or shopping clubs, home or auto security plans, and debt cancellation products.

Credit Card Insurance – What Do They All Do?

Most major credit card issuers now offer their members a variety of different free insurance programs. It is highly recommended that you review the insurance terms of your credit card agreement as in certain circumstances the credit card insurance offered by your card issuer may cover situation beyond those you may originally have thought.

The major credit card insurance programs offered include:

Purchase protection

If you purchase a product on your credit card that is later damaged, lost or stolen, you should be able to reclaim all or part of the purchase price cost from the insurance policy. Not only is this a useful protection to have if you purchase expensive or fragile products, but can also be a very good additional insurance to any home contents insurance policy you have.

Fraud protection

Policy covers you should you be the victim of fraudulent use of your card. With the rise of identity theft, and the ever increasing Internet fraud taking place, this policy not only covers the traditional fraud methods but should also cover you for any Internet or telephone fraud.

Stolen card protection

Provided you report your card stolen at the first opportunity you have once you have become aware of your card’s theft, this policy should reimburse you for any transactions processed on your card following your last genuine transaction.

Price protection

Not offered by all card providers, basically this policy will reimburse you the difference between the price you paid for a product and the cheaper price of the same product you later found elsewhere.

Travel insurance

If you purchase your holiday on your credit card there are two useful beneficial insurances you should check to see if you have. The first is a cancellation policy, which covers you in the event that you need to cancel your holiday between the period of purchasing the holiday and the date of travel.

The second is holiday accident insurance, which should cover you in the event that you have an accident including emergency accident evacuation – or are killed on holiday. Both of these are very useful to have as they can be a considerable extra on your holiday travel expenses if purchased independently.

Obviously all of the above credit card insurance schemes are subject to time and monetary limitations, so make sure you check these out. Additionally, you should also make sure that any purchases or use of your credit cards outside of the country of issue are also covered by the policy as, in some cases, they are not.

Coverage Details Of Rental Car Companies Insurance

Whenever an individual rents a car from a rental car company, they will be asked if they would like to add the company’s rental car insurance to the contract for renting the car. Knowing that, it is always good to acknowledge what are our options. This rental car insurance is designed to protect the individual renting the car and the company renting out the car if anything should happen to the vehicle while it is in the renter’s possession. Many individuals are not always sure of whether the price of the rental car insurance is worth the coverage offered and some believe that their current car insurance coverage or the rental car insurance coverage offered by many credit card companies is adequate to protect the individual from liability if anything happens to the rental car while in their possession. For some individuals, the rental car insurance offered by the rental car company is their most suitable option for coverage.

There are several different types of rental car insurance coverage that are included in the rental car insurance offered by the rental car companies. The first type of coverage is the damage waiver, which may include a collision damage waiver, a loss damage waiver, and a physical damage waiver. Each of these waivers waives the right of the insurance company to collect additional money from the individual who has rented the car in the event that the car is damaged while in their possession. The collision damage waiver protects the renter in the event that the rented car is in an accident with another car. The loss damage waiver protects the individual in the case of the car or parts of the car being stolen while the car is in the renter’s possession. The physical damage wavier protects the individual from liability if the rented car is physically damaged from sources other than a collision, such as skidding off of the road, bad weather conditions and hitting a tree or hit by a blown truck tire.

Another useful type of car insurance coverage offered by the rental car company is personal liability coverage. This type of car insurance coverage protects the individual in the event that they cause damage to another individual, vehicle, or piece of property while operating the vehicle rented from the car insurance company. Personal accident insurance coverage offered by the company will provide a one time payment in the event that you or a passenger in your rental car is injured, maimed, or killed in a car accident involving the rental vehicle. The final type of insurance coverage typically offered by the rental car insurance company is personal property insurance. This will pay to replace any personal property that is lost or stolen from the rental vehicle while it is in the renter’s possession. Each of these types of rental car insurance coverage has very specific limitations, so it always the best to read the conditions very carefully when signing and obtaining insurance from the rental car company.

Cover Yourself – The 6 Top Things to Look for in a Health Insurance Plan?

When deciding on health insurance, one needs to be aware of his or her needs first and foremost. Many plans are similar but slight variations in coverage and expense. Most insurance companies offer similar deductibles and cover all the standard routine issues that arise in health. Some plans are more expensive and make the insured responsible for more expense but offer a wider range of control. Some plans are designed for the budget consciences individual and has more restrictions but costs less. So look at what type of health needs you have and think about how often you need to visit a doctor. Make sure your doctor is cooperative in giving referrals when needed as well. Here are some things to think about when deciding what plan is best for you.

1) What plan benefits are offered to the insured? Most plans provide normal medical coverage. But see what other services you may need and if they are available easily or at all. Make sure that you are aware of any additional fees that might be placed on you if you see certain types of doctors or other medical professionals. Does this plan have restrictions on pre-existing conditions or chronic illnesses that can cause a premium increase or higher co-pay in the future. Know what you are getting and make sure that it works for you. If you aren’t sure call the company directly and speak to someone who can answer all your questions.

2) Physical exams and health screenings as a form of entry into a plan. Does this work for you or not, and do you not want to disclose your medical issues prior to getting a quote. Many insurance companies want to have you seen by one of their physicians to make sure you won’t cost them money by having any chronic illnesses. If you have some medical conditions that require frequent visits and treatments you may not want to look at these providers for help with coverage.

3) Care by specialists. If you require the care of specialists, such as a cardiologist, nutritionist for diabetes or obesity, or any other type, you want to make sure this is fully covered on your chosen plan. You don’t want to just sign up for a plan that is in your price range and then find out you can’t see the doctors you need to. Be sure to see all the information on added coverage above and beyond just basic needs.

4) Hospitalization and emergency care. Most HMOs require a referral from your primary care doctor before you may go to the hospital. Some insurance companies will not pay for hospital visits on the weekends unless the doctor was called and gave the referral prior to you going. Some will even require that you wait till the next available business day to see your doctor first if it isn’t a life or death emergency. If you have conditions that might require a trip to the hospital, be sure that your policy works for you. In the middle of a panic attack is not a good time to wait for the “on-call” to call you back, give permission, and call the hospital for you. You need to know that are safe to call and get emergency care and get the referral the next business day.

5) Prescription drugs and what will the company pay for? You might want to take into account how many prescriptions you need and what the cost of each one is. If you are used to small co-pay, it can be a slap in the face to find out you have to pay 20% of a $150 prescription. Many people who require some or lots of daily medications will benefit more from a HMO that has a small fee like $5 or $10 per prescription and/or a small deductible.

6) Vision care and dental services. Find out if these are included in your plan or whether you need to purchase one or both separately. Many plans will include yearly and emergency eye exams and visits. Also many offer some coverage on eyewear to some extent. Most dental plans are separate and require a separate insurance or slightly higher monthly fee to be added.

Cover Your Loan Repayments With Payment Protection Insurance

Payment protection insurance could give you a tax free sum of money each month with which to pay your loan repayments and keep you out of getting into serious debt problems. Payment protection insurance is a generic term for mortgage payment protection, income protection and loan payment protection insurance and all do the same thing which is to be your lifeline if you should come out of work due to accident, long term sickness or unemployment.

Payment protection insurance would begin to give you a monthly income with which to pay your essential outgoings once you have been out of work for 30 days or more and it would continue to give you an income for up to 12 months and with some providers for 24 months. If you take out mortgage payment protection then your home won’t be at risk as you would have the money each month to ensure you could keep up with the repayments.

If you want to safeguard your monthly loan repayments then loan payment protection could be suitable when it comes to making sure you can carry on meeting your loan repayments. And income protection gives you a replacement income up to a set amount each month.

The payment protection insurance cover can be taken out to guard against coming out of work due to accident and sickness only, unemployment only or for accident, sickness and unemployment together. The quotes for payment protection insurance vary widely and it is essential that you get several quotes for the cheapest premiums. Shopping around for your payment protection insurance cover will enable you to secure you the cheapest premiums while getting you a quality product providing of course that you have ensured a policy would be suitable for your needs.

Always take into account there are exclusions and the most common of these include only working part time, being retired, being in self-employed or suffering from a pre-existing medical condition at the time of taking out your policy. There are of course many more and it is essential that you read the small print before purchasing your payment protection insurance.