NU Online News Service, March 28, 2005, 11:50 a.m. EST

MetLife Inc., New York, is offering a new line of critical illness insurance.[@@]

The policies feature a lump-sum payment designed to give beneficiaries flexibility in handling day-to-day expenses and determining their best course of treatment, MetLife says.

The policies cover 6 prevalent critical illnesses: cancer, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, coronary artery bypass graft and major organ transplant.

Policy beneficiaries who experience one of these covered conditions receive a lump sum of up to $100,000 to protect their families financially while they can focus on treatment and recovery.

The amount of insurance purchased and the type of illness determine the amount of the benefit paid, MetLife says

MetLife points to American Cancer Society data showing that 5-year cancer survival rates have risen to 64% from 50% in the 1970s. Many individuals live paycheck to paycheck and would be under serious financial hardship if they suffered a long illness, MetLife points out.