The critical illness insurance marketplace is highly competitive, with most insurance companies offering some sort of product. It’s becoming increasingly simple for consumers to acquire coverage with competitive rates and flexible riders, and Manulife has fallen behind its competition with its critical illness insurance product, Lifecheque.
Well, all of that is about to change as Manulife has announced improvements coming to Lifecheque, effective January 26, 2015.
One of the major changes coming to Lifecheque is the addition of covered conditions. Two illnesses, aplastic anemia and bacterial meningitis, which are present in many other insurance companies’ critical illness products, have been added to bring the total number of covered conditions to 24.
The early intervention benefit, which pays 15% of the face amount up to $50,000 for less severe illnesses, has also been expanded by three conditions. Illnesses that have been added all belong to the early stages cancer category, and includes chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) Rai stage 0, papillary or follicular thyroid cancer stage T1 and stage 1 malignant melanoma. This brings the number of conditions covered by the early intervention benefit to six.
Lifecheque has also adopted the 2013 Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) covered condition benchmark definitions. CLHIA has updated the benchmark definitions to reflect medical advancements and provide clarity around critical illness definitions. Of note is the expansion of Alzheimer’s disease to include dementia and Parkinson’s disease to include specified atypical Parkinsonian disorders.
Pricing has been reduced on both the base coverage and the return of premium riders to bring it more in line with its competitors. Some of the rate reductions are substantial, with premiums for return of premium riders for certain age band decreasing by more than 20%. Implications for this is that we may see Lifecheque having the lowest premium in our next installment of best critical illness insurance rates.
All product enhancements noted above will also apply to the critical illness component of Synergy. Manulife Synergy is their 3-in-1 product that includes coverage for life, critical illness, and disability insurance.
These changes should bring more business to Manulife and is a positive for consumers, as more competition brings innovation and drives down prices. Look for other insurance companies to follow suit, as demand for critical illness insurance continues to increase.