Risk management for critical illness and its variations

Critical illness insurance has been in existence for 30 years. During this period, the number of illnesses covered by this type of insurance has grown from the original four to more than 100 currently. Critical illness insurance has evolved from single payments to multiple payments and tiered payments; in addition, critical illness insurance products have gradually diversified and matured to include special products of female product, juvenile product  and cancer products, among others. As these products are closely related to the social and cultural characteristics of a region, they also accord with people’s psychological expectations with regard to the ever-growing incidence rates of critical illnesses, as well as the corresponding, steadily rising treatment costs.

Critical illness products have achieved very good sales results in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, mainland China, Taiwan and South Korea. Concurrently, however, the inherent nature of critical illness products, social and economic circumstances, people’s lifestyle, environmental changes and advances in medical technology are all factors which may affect the incidence rates of critical illnesses, and thereby the growth of corresponding insurance products. Special attention should be paid to advances in medical technology, as there have been several instances where improved detection rates for critical illnesses have had a dramatic effect on associated insurance products.

Following its introduction in China in 1995, critical illness insurance had evolved into a popular, mainstream product by the end of the 1990s. At present, traditional critical illness insurance products are gradually entering a peak period for claim. While accumulated experiences and data can be used as a basis for designing future products, they can also be used to examine the related hypotheses underlying the design of a product at the time. Furthermore, ever-increasing competition, the constant phasing out of old products and innovation of new critical illness products, and the characteristics and varying demands of new channels all pose a significant challenge to a company’s ability to innovate new products and manage risk.

To address these issues, the China Underwriting Forum of Swiss Re is organizing its seventh special forum, “Risk Management and the Development of Critical Illnesses and Its Variations”, which will be held in March in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. During the forum, Xiaopeng Shen, Swiss Re China’s Head of Underwriting and Chief Operational Consultant, L&H, will examine the development of critical illness insurance products since their inception 30 years ago, analyze various past experiences relating to these products, look at future trends, seek possible responses and discuss various solutions with colleagues in the insurance industry.

In particular, he will discuss:   

  • The evolution of critical illness insurance products and past experiences involving these products
  • Various new types of critical illness insurance products and the risk characteristics of critical illness insurance products
  • The relationship between definitions of illness and incidence rates
  • The interrelationship between illnesses, in particular, the overlapping effects of related illnesses under multiple payment circumstances
  • Whether or not the rating in traditional underwriting manual is applicable to new types of critical illness insurance products
  • How to apply simplified underwriting/guaranteed coverage on critical illness insurance products in order to better accommodate new channels, such as bank insurance, telemarketing and Internet sales
  • Present and future challenges, including how departments responsible for pricing, underwriting, claims and other functions can improve cooperation to be better prepared to meet new challenges

Please contact Xiaopeng Shen (with contacts shown on the top right corner of this page) for more information about Swiss Re’s recommendations and proposals regarding critical illness risk management. A variety of other topics will be discussed throughout the year as part of the China Underwriting Forum of Swiss Re.

Published March 2013