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Life Protect+: Friends Life’s "super" product
by Nicola Culley (FTAdviser)

Take a bit of distinguished tele-interviewing, add a touch of online policy in trust capability and wrap it all up with a sturdy infrastructure. What you get is the attempt by Resolution-owned Friends Life to create a comprehensive, individual protection proposition.
After drawing together three major brands - Axa UK, Friends Provident and Bupa Health Assurance - advisers believe Resolution has created something of a “super” product with its newly-launched Life Protect + product.
The individual protection arm will sit alongside Friends Life’s corporate pensions and retirement income businesses. It was only in February this year that the provider announced it was launching the new brand, following Resolution’s £168.15m Bupa Health Assurance acquisition.
Life Protect + was then launched on 24 October. It is an individual protection proposition for the IFA market consisting of income protection, critical illness and life and business protection. In a nutshell, the product features online and paper application, tele-underwriting, sales support and technical and underwriting helplines. There is also the facility to write policies in trust online.
Looking a bit deeper into the product, it was the heritage Bupa policy that Friends Life selected as the core for Life Protect +. The provider decided to select one system to base the business around. According to the provider, Bupa was the best with its comprehensive range of conditions and underwriting, and additional features such as Bupa health care and best doctors service. The latter includes peer-to-peer recommendation by medical professionals. It asks doctors, if they had a condition in their field, who they would like to treat them.
From Axa UK, Friends Life took a couple of critical illness definitions around strokes and multiple sclerosis. But more prominently, the provider jumped on Axa’s tele-underwriting capability and worked it into the offering. And the key element from Friends Provident was placing policy on trust.
Steve Casey, head of marketing and proposition development for Friends Life, said: “I like to think advisers will be very pleasantly surprised because we have kept all our promises.”
At the time of launch, managing director of protection for Friends Life, Steve Payne, said the online policies in trust element would fit well as IFAs streamline their businesses ready for RDR. According to Mr Casey, this straight through process and ease of business was fundamental to the offering.

Mr Casey said: “From a protection point of view we must make sure that we pay out our claims efficiently and as quickly as possible.”

Is the provider therefore targeting simplicity with the product? With processes yes, with the product no.