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Covid-19: New income protection insurance policies ‘halted or amended’

By Emma Bowden, PA

Some insurers have decided to stop offering income protection insurance or are reviewing their policy terms amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

Anna McEntee, director of insurance at comparethemarket.com, said the comparison website has decided to stop offering income protection quotes during this “period of uncertainty”.

It comes following cuts to travel cover by insurers, with some temporarily pulling it altogether for new customers due to the exceptional circumstances.

There are several types of income protection insurance, which pays out should people be unable to work due to injury or illness.

(PA Graphics)

Ms McEntee said that some income protection insurance providers are reviewing the basis on which it is offered – with the potential for coronavirus-related exclusions to be introduced.

“At comparethemarket.com, our priority is to ensure that our customers can be confident that the product they purchase is going to meet their requirements,” she said.

“In order to protect our customers we have therefore decided to temporarily stop offering income protection quotes via our website during this period of uncertainty.

“We will resume income protection comparison as soon as we can be sure that the prices presented will meet the needs and expectations of our customers.

“We will be informed by Government advice and continue to work closely with our insurance partners on this issue. Other life insurance products are not impacted.”

In its statement, comparethemarket.com did not specify which providers would be amending their cover – but said “in excess of 95% of providers” are no longer covering new applicants for the unemployment element of accident, sickness and unemployment cover.

Ms McEntee said almost all permanent health insurance providers, whose policies incorporate income protection, continue to consider new applications.

But she said a number of insurers have already put coronavirus exclusions in place and others are currently reviewing whether to add exclusions before accepting further applications.

Ms McEntee added: “We will not provide quotes for these types of policies until we are confident that customers are getting the right cover.”

Vitality said it is still accepting new customers on life insurance plans, but new income protection plans will have a deferral period of at least four weeks.

A spokeswoman for AIG Life said it has no plans to stop offering income protection insurance, while Zurich said all of its protection products remain open for new business.

A statement from LV= said it was “adopting additional measures to understand and reflect the emerging coronavirus situation” for new applicants.

The provider will pay income protection claims for a positive diagnosis, and has offered support to existing customers who are medically advised to self-isolate.

While it has seen an increase in general inquiries, LV= said it had not yet received any coronavirus-specific life insurance, critical illness or income protection claims.