27 March 2024


  • Research shows that the majority of consumers expect critical illness cover providers to make definition improvements available for both existing and new customers
  • Less than one in ten (8%) say critical illness definition improvements should be available for new customers only
  • The findings – gathered as part of the research for CIExpert’s Critical Thinking Report 2024 – suggest that the industry could do more to align product design with consumer expectations

Two-thirds of consumers say that if a critical illness cover provider expands the list of critical illness conditions covered by its policy, they expect the wider criteria to be available to both existing and new customers. By contrast less than one in ten (8%) say they expect definition improvements to only be available to new customers, and a similar number (9%) say they expect them to only be available to existing customers.

The research findings, gathered as part of the CIExpert Critical Thinking 2024 Report launched earlier this year, surveyed the views and experiences of 5,000 consumers. Currently Guardian is the only protection company in the market to offer a cover upgrade promise within its critical illness cover policy. This promise states that if Guardian improves its critical illness definitions and it is possible to give them to a policyholder for free, it will check any claim made against both the definitions bought and the new definitions available and will pay out if the claim is valid under either. The promise also states that occasionally, Guardian may introduce changes that will come at a cost, and if that’s the case, it will offer existing customers the opportunity to pay to add these to their cover.

Rachael Welsh, Head of Marketing, Guardian, said: “CIExpert’s research findings give everyone in the industry a clear message: consumers expect to be treated fairly. When it comes to their expectations around critical illness cover, the majority expect the same definitions to be available to both existing and new customers and it’s the provider’s job to make that happen. We’re proud to be taking a lead in this area with our cover upgrade promise which Guardian brought to market in 2018. It’s already having an impact for our customers with our first claim paid under this promise last summer.”

Alan Lakey, Co-Founder and Director, CIExpert, said: “The Critical Thinking 2024 research and bespoke question set has helped us dig deeper into what consumers want and expect from their critical illness cover policy. There’s a big opportunity to grow the critical illness market but it relies on the industry meeting the needs and expectations of consumers today. The clear consumer response around cover upgrade was one example, among many others identified in the report, of how our industry has the potential to revolutionise to give consumers the benefits they expect from their cover. While I appreciate that enhancing product flexibility can be complicated, Guardian’s cover upgrade shows that it’s possible.”

-Release ends-

Notes to editors:

Press enquiries to Natalie Robinson, 07789 501146,

  • CIExpert Critical Thinking Report 2024 – sponsored by Guardian and HSBC Life – is a bespoke study based on the views and experiences of 5,000 consumers and analysed by generation, alongside insights from over 300 advisers, making it the most comprehensive study ever into the UK critical illness cover (CIC) market.
    CIExpert is calling on the industry to acknowledge the challenges & opportunities that the research uncovers and to focus on using the insights to evolve critical illness insurance into a mainstream product.

Guardian Financial Services is an appointed representative of Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

All products are provided by Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited and we have an agreement with them to underwrite and issue the protection policies we distribute through the UK intermediary channel.

As an appointed representative of Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited, Guardian Financial Services Limited is the market-facing brand under which we promote our proposition and engage with advisers.

Background to Guardian Financial Services, owned by Gryphon Group Holdings

Guardian, the life and protection insurance business, launched in 2018 and pledged to grow the protection market. The brand promise of ‘Life. Made Better.’ reflects the company’s commitment to rethink and reinvent protection for the better; making sure customers get cover that’s easier to understand, simple to buy and designed to never let them down.

Guardian’s business partners

Gryphon Group Holdings is majority owned by Punter Southall Group as the largest equity capital investor. Guardian partners with UnderwriteMe for its Underwriting Engine, Liss Systems, the UK arm of Nasdaq-listed EXL, for its policy administration technology, and Space, for its front-end technology, branding and marketing. Guardian’s reinsurance partners are Hannover Re, Gen Re and Swiss Re.