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2021 - Q3

Few places to hide

Sarasin & Partners

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Putting the children first

Jacqui Gillies
Marketing and Proposition Director Guardian

Most parents do everything in their power to protect their children. So why is children's critical illness cover so rarely discussed? It's the afterthought. And that's largely because of proposition design.

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Children's cover is usually built into adult critical illness cover only, so an adviser can only discuss it if the parent takes out critical illness cover for themselves. At Guardian, we think they deserve better.

Let's look at why. The impact of a child's critical illness on a family is devastating. Take cancer – the big reason children need cover. According to children's cancer charity CLIC Sargent, around 4,500 under-25s are diagnosed with cancer each year. Which is 12 families every day1.

The charity found 42% of parents had to stop work because of their child's cancer treatment. 19% of parents took unpaid leave for over a year, and 49% of parents experienced a loss of earnings2.

A number of things need to change

  1. Children's critical illness cover should be an optional extra. It should be possible to add it to any adult policy, either life or critical illness, at any time. At Guardian, that's what we've done and, so far, 100% of our children's critical illness payouts have been for cover attached to an adult life policy. These are claims that wouldn't have been possible if we'd followed the market and offered children's cover as part of the parent's own critical illness policy.
  2. We don't believe the typical £25,000 always gives a family the financial breathing space they need, especially as the average (median) full-time salary in the UK according to the ONS is £31,0003. Equally, if a family doesn't need children's cover, they shouldn't have it automatically included in the price. At Guardian, parents can choose between £10,000 and £100,000, and they pay just one amount to cover every child in the family plus any new arrivals.
  3. With any critical illness claim, a payout alone is rarely enough. The claimant often needs emotional support or other help. This is just as true for children and their families. By putting children's critical illness cover in place, it helps the family become aware of what's available. Which means they are more likely to turn to their insurer for help if they need it. Our HALO claims service is there for all the family.

At Guardian, we know better proposition design leads to better outcomes. That's why we've designed our children's critical illness cover as an optional extra with all these features and more. We think children deserve protection and they deserve a bigger place in the protection conversation.

It's time to put the children first.


  1. CLIC Sargent, A Strategy for 2020-2025.
  2. CLIC Sargent, Cancer costs report, September 2016.
  3. ONS, Average Employee earnings in the UK: 2020, November 2020.

Guardian Financial Services Limited is an appointed representative of Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited. All products are provided by Scottish Friendly.