Let me start by saying that I am a life agent, and can and have sold critical illness. I like the product, and I think it should make up part of an overall financial plan.
Having said that though, I think, like all insurances, you must decide what your need is, and insure the need. You also have to balance your needs with your budget and your perceived risk. I offer CI through 3 different companies, and each has their ups and downs, I assess the need of each client then determine which company makes a good fit. I like the Manulife product, it seems pretty good, and have sold a few of their CI policies (I mostly place term with them – usually replacing bank offered mortgage insurance). I use Manulife a fair bit, primarily because their underwriting is efficient, and they are more tolerant of insurance ratings than some of the other companies I have tried to place business with.
In reality, you need to be adequately insured, by either topping up what your group offers, or standing on your own. I think CI is very important, the chance of contracting a critical illness is much better than collecting on term life policy. The question is how much, how long, and what options do you want included in the policy? CI gives you options, and that is something I preach to my clients – options, with options you can make good rational decisions, which when faced with a potentially life changing illness is something I would want. Do you need CI? I don’t have a crystal ball, and haven’t got a clue – the question is how much risk are you willing to take? Some will take the risk and some won’t.
Generally (and I can only speak for the companies I have knowledge of), most CI covers 22 conditions, including, cancers, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, etc. It can be expensive, and it is harder to get than term coverage, because, the insurance company is assuming more risk than with a term policy. If your family has a history of cancer, you may not qualify or be rated. Just because you were accepted for life coverage, doesn’t mean you will be for CI.
ChrisR: you asked who initiated the sale, and that was a great question. Being liceneced, we are the “experts” in the field, so we have to (and should) bring up the topic. CI is still relatively unknown by most people, and the reality is, that if we as agents don’t mention it, and one of our clients gets an illness that CI could have covered, we have opened ourselves up to a lawsuit. I can only speak for my practice, but I always mention it to clients, and allow them to decide if it is something they need to pursue. As long as I am mentioning it, and giving them the pros and cons, then it is up to them to decide if they need it.
As far as being lucrative, commissions are ok – but not stellar, I won’t be retiring off a CI policy that’s for sure. I can only speak for my company, but I don’t get any kind of incentive for offering company “a” over company “b”. I wouldn’t want to work for a company that did, as it’s not in the clients best interest, my responsibility is to the client and no one else, that might be different at other firms. One thing I can tell you is that you won’t be in business for long if you are only looking out for yourself.
I hope this is helpful and if you have any questions ask away!