Life insurance is regularly purchased on the basis of which insurer can offer the cheapest rate for the cover required; after all, there is only one circumstance when the policy will pay out, which is the death of the policy holder. However, there are some extra features that can add real value to a life policy which it would be sensible to consider at the point of purchase.
Flexibility is a key component of any policy. Most people will look to take cover over a relatively long period of time, typically 25 years, but increasingly up to as much as 35 years. Over such an extended period it is inevitable that individual circumstances will change and protection needs go hand in hand with this. It is helpful therefore to have a policy that can be adapted over time and even better if it allows change without the need for full medical underwriting.
Guaranteed insurability options allow this. On certain life events such as moving home, marriage, birth of a child and promotion, an increase in cover (up to certain limits) can be requested with no further underwriting required. Not all providers offer this option and some are more flexible than others. For example Aviva don’t offer any guaranteed increase options unless there is a home move. Ageas on the other hand will allow an increase for all the reasons listed above and additionally allow an extension in the term for a home move. Whilst a new policy could be started with Aviva, if there has been deterioration in health since the initial application, terms may not be as good or they may even refuse cover.
There are other features of life insurance policies that can be really helpful on a day to day basis. Friends Life offers their policyholders access to Bupa Healthline. This is a phone based service which provides access to trained nurses 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer queries about any health related issue. Whilst this is similar to the service offered by NHS direct, the initial contact with NHS direct is with a call centre and it may take several hours for a call back from a medical expert. The immediate contact with a trained medical professional can provide important peace of mind. Other providers also offer medical advice help lines; Scottish Provident offer lifeline and LV= their member care line, which also offers legal and tax advice.
One policy which offers major benefits throughout its lifetime is Vitality from Pru Protect. It offers clients the opportunity to engage in a health and wellbeing programme. As a result, clients can accumulate points to gain discounts at a range of companies and also potentially reduce the life insurance premiums too. This offers the dual benefit of encouraging a healthy lifestyle and saving money.
Another valuable policy benefit is the ‘best doctors’ service from Friends Life. This allows policyholders access to world leading medical experts who can offer a second opinion if they or their family are diagnosed with a medical condition. This could potentially make a difference to the long term outcome of an illness, but at worst can confirm that the treatment being undertaken is the best course of action.
Price is very often the key differentiator, particularly in price comparison tables, when people look for life cover. However, getting a thorough understanding of the wider benefits that policies can offer could reap benefits longer term – especially as better quality cover may only be a few pence more each month. At L&C our expert advisers can help with the right choice of policy and provider to meet individual requirements.