New Critical Illness Association Targets Education To Field And Public
What are the key issues confronting the young and still developing critical illness insurance industry in the United States?
They include claims, underwriting, definitions of covered illnesses, taxation of benefits, state approvals of policy filings, product design and producer-consumer education, said Alan E. Watson here at the first annual meeting of the National Association for Critical Illness Insurance.
Watson, who is senior vice president-independent agent distribution at Protective Life Insurance Company, Birmingham, Ala., is the associations 2003 president.
The new association addressed all of the above issues in three educational tracks during its first meeting. The three tracks were: product and market education; risk management; and distribution.
Such education is one of the key goals of NACII, said Watson.
Two other goals are to disseminate information and education about CI insurance to the field and the public; and to act as a catalyst for CI industry positions and policies, he said.
CI insurance pays a lump sum to insureds diagnosed with one of the policys covered conditions.
Though it is a fairly new product line in the United States and though NACII is a brand new organization, the meeting drew over 80 attendees.
Organized a year ago by Daniel R. Pisetsky, managing director of US Living Benefits, Manchester, Conn., the nonprofit trade group seeks to raise awareness about, and understanding of, CI insurance. It has a full slate of officers, 14 board members, seed money from various sponsors and a membership of about 50.
The executive director is Norbert Kraich, owner of The Kraich Company, a Washington, D.C., association management firm.
The CI product line is not new, allowed Watson. He detailed a 20-year history of development in many countries, including its arrival in the U.S. in the mid-1990s.
In the U.S., CI insurance is just now pulling out of five years of “socialization” and readying for a surge in growth, according to Watson.
Association organizers did weigh whether they should form a trade group to help that growth along, he indicated. That discussion came down to one question, he said: “Do we wait or do we push ahead as we address and resolve these issues?”
The decision was to get something done now.
Technology advancements have increased the human lifespan, Watson explained, and there is now hope for illnesses that were once deemed hopeless. But increasingly, he continued, “we are hearing about financial ills caused by trying to maintain ones lifestyle when faced with a critical illness event” that a person survives.
Since CI insurance is designed to help alleviate some of those financial strains, the association leaders believed they should do what they can to provide education and awareness of this coverage, Watson told NU.
The group provides networking opportunities, a password protected Web site (www.nacii.org), publicity of key issues via press releases and research data, Watson said.