This evolution is happening in everyday life - for example I can’t imagine my life without having an ‘Alexa’ in most rooms. It’s also true with medical treatments – which means we’re now surviving diseases and critical illnesses that may have previously killed us.
It’s quite mind blowing to think about it, but operations and surgery can now be assisted by robots, meaning more precision, flexibility and control than is possible with conventional techniques.
The use of such robots in surgical procedures is less traumatic for the patient: they operate through small incisions, rather than the more traditional open surgery, which is especially important in our ageing society. That’s why we’ve made changes to our high incidence conditions to bring us more in line with these modern treatments and ultimately help more clients to successfully claim at a time when they need to.
We’ve focused on our top two reasons for Critical Illness claims
Almost 75% of all CI claims we paid in 2017 were for just two illnesses – cancer and heart attack1. That’s why we’ve focused on improving our definitions in these areas, meaning that in some situations, your clients who receive less invasive treatments for conditions will now be able to claim. For example, we’ve changed ‘open heart surgery’ to ‘structural heart surgery’ so that we now cover thoracotomies as well as surgery to divide the breastbone. And we’ve enhanced our low grade prostate cancer definition by removing the requirement for treatment completely, meaning we’ll now pay claims solely on diagnosis.
We’ve also included a new heart failure definition; this is particularly poignant given the recent research by F&TRC which has shown that congestive heart failure for both males and females from their 60s onwards has seen a spike in prevalence and is a condition where we will see more claims in the coming years2.
To further illustrate this with a personal story, my best friend’s husband was diagnosed with pulmonary artery disease by the time he was 40. The consultant cardiologist agreed the best form of treatment was to perform pulmonary artery graft surgery. Fortunately the procedure, which involved the traditional method of surgery to divide the breastbone (median sternotomy), was a success and he was able to claim on his critical illness policy since the procedure met the conditions of the definition at that time. This allowed him to focus on getting better, with no added pressure of worrying about how he could continue to pay the mortgage.
It is clear that Royal London have targeted high incidence conditions and as such improved their standing in the market by providing clear, concise and comprehensive definitions.
Now, if this situation happened today there’s a chance the cardiologist may be able to perform the surgery using a less invasive technique. So with this in mind, we’ve updated our pulmonary artery graft surgery definition so it now covers any type of surgery to remove and replace a diseased artery. This allows for more modern practices in use today and also supports any further advances in surgical procedures. And of course, for CI policies with terms lasting up to 50 years, it’s important to cater for the future as well as the present.
Clearly these changes are beneficial for your clients who could suffer from cancer or heart related conditions, but we’ve not stopped there. We’ve also extended our improvements to other definitions including multiple sclerosis and further improved our Enhanced Children’s Critical Illness Cover as well. For more information take a look at our simple summary of changes sales aid.
These improvements have already landed well in the market, with industry experts giving us some positive feedback.
Adam Higgs, Head of Research at the Financial Technology Research Centre said:
“It is clear that Royal London have targeted high incidence conditions and as such improved their standing in the market by providing clear, concise and comprehensive definitions.”
So, make sure you have better critical illness conversations with your clients. We’ve changed our definitions with them in mind - providing quality cover for the conditions they’re most likely to claim on and for the treatments they may receive. Through your advice more people, like my friend’s husband, can have the right protection in place when they need it most.
1 - Royal London UK protection business claims paid statistics (1 January to 31 December 2017).
2 - F&TRC Insight Protection - “What conditions are males most likely to claim on?”, January 2019 and “What conditions are females more likely to suffer from?”, January 2019.