The majority of critical illness insurers are currently focused on the worksite channel. (See Chart 1.)
These products are typically stand-alone or acceleration products, sold via payroll deduction. They can be built either on an individual or a group chassis. (See Chart 2 for typical types now available.)
The question is, what types of CI policies might we see in the future, and what are the prospects for expanding this market?
To get some ideas, designers can imbed “ix” (the probability of incidence for a critical illness) into the chassis of various products (in the same fashion that life policy developers imbed the “qx,” or the probability of death, into the policy design). Then, they can add to the ix the expenses and investment income necessary to price the product.
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Doing so enables designers to create new products for a variety of distribution channels. For instance, CI policies created for individual distribution channels can be designed as either term life or universal life insurance products.
Already, some insurers are moving into the employee benefit channel, with CI benefits imbedded in a group life chassis as an acceleration or supplementary rider. Others are distributing CI products via the Internet and direct marketing.
Further, a new marketing channel for the mortgage and credit market is emerging. In the U.K., as you may know, the majority of CI policies sold are mortgage-related. Now, one United States company has begun selling CI mortgage protection.
At the present time, U.S. insurers distinguish their CI policies by offering differing: critical conditions covered; adjustment of waiting periods; premium guarantees; acceleration amounts; pre-existing conditions; maximum age issues; maximum amounts; etc.
Industry sources tell me that, going forward, they will continue tweaking products, so they can continue differentiating their offerings and also so they can provide choice to consumers.
The flexibility in design that results can prove extremely advantageous to buyers. For families and individuals, for instance, CIs lump-sum payment can be used for various reasons, such as: to replace reduced earnings; to assist with mortgage payments; to pay off personal debts; to provide additional cash liquidity for medical treatment or for college tuition; etc.