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Greater emphasis needed on trauma cover

Planners should be more active in promoting the need for trauma insurance, according to world-renowned cardiac surgeon Marius Barnard.

Thursday, May 31st 2001, 4:56PM

Planners should be more active in promoting the need for trauma insurance, according to world-renowned cardiac surgeon Marius Barnard.

Barnard has concluded a trip to Australia where he spoke to AMP advisers and encouraged them to consider insurance for critical illness events, which affect three quarters of the population.

"Claims experience shows the three major reasons for calling on such a policy is heart attack, stroke or cancer and that 75 per cent of the population will be suffer from one of these in a life time," Barnard says.

"So what I find strange is that in other parts of the world insurance for critical illness is the number one policy while in Australia it has been dropping steadily since the early 1990s."

Barnard says he has followed the development of medicine since he began his own career as a surgeon and notes that those who suffer a major critical illness have much better chances of surviving them.

He says as a result, the life and risk insurance industry needs to move away from a focus on policies which provide benefits after death and to those which maintain lifestyle and earnings while the holder is still alive.

"The treatment for these events in Australia is very good, however if someone dies from a stroke there are no costs. It is a terrible thing to say but it is true," Barnard says.

"However if they live the costs are long-term and include such things as treatments, change of lifestyle and any need for ongoing medical assistance.

Barnard says he has challenged local planners and life companies on a number of occasions as to why trauma is not promoted more but has yet to receive an appropriate answer.

However, he says trauma insurance does not appear to have a high priority as planners and clients are more keen to pursue insurance for investment reasons such as pensions and annuities as opposed to insurance for protection.

"There are too many parties involved with the product design and they are no longer easy to understand and in many cases even planners are unsure of the definitions and meanings in the policies," Barnard says.

"Policies that are verbose and wordy create uncertainty and reasons not to buy."

He says a major issue in Australia is that every company runs its own definitions. A similar situation existed in the UK until 1992 when insurers defined the 12 most common conditions and he says trauma policies have increased in sales every year since. - Money Management

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