Co-op re-enters life insurance market as part of moves to return to its roots

The Co-op is returning to its roots in the life insurance sector with cover offering some flexibility for customers.

Co-op Life Cover, which is being launched alongside its partner Royal London, will support policyholders who may at times have periods of financial difficulty.

People will be given the option to take two six-month payment holidays throughout the lifetime of the policy, after a 12-month qualifying period, allowing the policy to remain in force if the customer hits unforeseen difficulties.

Customers can also opt to reduce their cover level rather than pay back any shortfall at the end of the payment holiday window.

Co-op said the cover, launched on Saturday, has been developed with its members in mind.

Co-op Life cover will also include an optional serious illness cover.

This benefit will pay out a set amount of money to the customer on diagnosis of one of a serious illness such as cancer, a heart attack, stroke, multiple sclerosis, a benign brain tumour and dementia.

The last time the Co-op was in the life market was 2013. Initially, products will focus in on the protection market, with the range expected to broaden in the years ahead.

The Co-op recently announced it was selling its insurance underwriting business to Markerstudy, allowing it to focus on product and distribution development.

In September last year the Co-op signalled its intent to return to the healthcare market via the acquisition of Dimec.

The moves are all part of its plans to grow revenues in the coming years as it focuses on core markets in food retail, funeralcare and life planning, insurance and healthcare.

The Co-op said it has “proven expertise” in these areas over its 175-year history.

Pippa Wicks, deputy chief executive at Co-op, said: “Life insurance is not new territory for us, we have a rich history in this area, and we can see a clear need to come back into this sector and provide a distinctive Co-op solution for our members.

“We are focused on meeting our members’ needs and this launch follows our acquisition of Dimec, a healthcare technology start-up, which has allowed us to return to the health sector in a far more agile and innovative way.

“In insurance, we will deliver a compelling range of products for our members, which will increase our insurance footprint and extend our Co-op difference.”