Scotia enters 'living benefit' market

Published: Sunday | June 28, 2009

Bruce Bowen, CEO and president of Scotiabank Group Jamaica, in discussion with Jacqueline Sharp (right), vice-president and general manager of Scotia Jamaica Life Insurance Company, about the display advertisement of the new insurance product Scotia CritiCare. Looking on is Fran Mahfood, nutritionist at the Heart Foundation of Jamaica. The insurance product was launched Thursday at the Scotiabank Training Centre. - Rudolph Brown/Chief Photographer

Scotia Jamaica Life Insurance Company (SJLIC) on Thursday launched a critical illness plan that provides financial support for policyholders diagnosed with nine medical conditions.

Scotia CritiCare offers 'individual living benefits', that is coverage for conditions, such as cancer, heart attacks, stroke, paralysis, coma, blindness, loss of speech and major burns, with a rider for death and dismemberment.

SJLIC said at the product launch Thursday that CritiCare marked its entry into this market segment, but the company already had some level of participation, though not directly.

Loan applicants who purchase credit insurance can opt for its 'health crisis protection' plan which repays outstanding loan balances if the borrower is diagnosed with cancer, suffers a stroke, has a heart attack or is dismembered.

Scotia enters a market that is overwhelmingly dominated by Sagicor Jamaica, which claims 80 per cent of the total health-insurance market, while Guardian Life is said to have about 15 per cent.

Scotia CritiCare's coverage starts from $750,000, with maximum benefit of $2 million.

The insurance product is the second new product launched in 2009 by SJLIC. In March, ScotiaBRIDGE, a retirement scheme, was launched.

Scotia Insurance, with assets of $43 billion, contributed 24 per cent to group profit in 2008 and is expected to increase that to at least 30 per cent in 2009, the insurance company said.

According to Jackie Sharp, vice-president and general manager of SJLIC, the new insurance product is intended to create a solution for those for whom the rising costs of health care make it difficult to cope financially.

effective planning

Scotia, she said, intended to bring into focus the need for "effective planning in relation to health, and the need to prepare financially for any eventuality that may occur".

The death and dismemberment rider, she said, could be added on request.

As a living benefit, the claim would not be paid if the client died within 30 days of diagnosis.

"The money is intended for clients to live comfortably and pay health costs after diagnosis," said Erica Anderson, product-development manager.

"It is not a death benefit."

Instead, relatives would be reimbursed all premiums paid under the policy if the policyholder dies.

It was possible, said Anderson, for persons ages 25 and 30 years to get coverage for $500 in monthly premiums.

But persons with pre-existing conditions, such as HIV, cancer, a heart condition, or stroke, as well as those over 60 years old, would not qualify for the policy.

Older Jamaicans who qualify would pay higher premiums. For example, a woman age 36 would able to get $1 million worth of coverage for $1,063 in monthly premiums.

To get the maximum of $2 million, payments would be around $2,000 monthly.

A woman of 50, however, would pay $2,176 per month for $1 million of coverage; while at the maximum age of 60, payments would be $4,032 monthly, Anderson said.