Although best known as a provider of home and car insurance, Zurich is now providing term assurance, a form of life cover that most people are unaware of even though it is invariably the cheapest available, especially for those aged under 40.
Term assurance policies pay a lump sum if the policy-holder dies within the agreed term, usually 10 to 25 years. Happily, most people outlive their policy, which is why the premiums seem cheap compared with most other life insurance policies.
Zurich would charge a 45-year-old non-smoker Pounds 27.45 a month for a 10-year policy providing Pounds 100,000 cover, and a 30-year-old can obtain Pounds 50,000 cover for 10 years for as little as Pounds 6 a month.
Peter Ablett, Zurich Municipal's marketing manager, says: "Many people are failing to provide for their dependants with crucial life cover. Not only do they not realise that it can be obtained so cheaply, but as our research reveals, only about one in four adults has heard of it."
As ever, however, anyone contemplating taking out term assurance is advised to get quotations from other leading players in this field, such as Sun Alliance, Allied Dunbar and General Accident. The difference could be as much as Pounds 5 a month, a considerable amount over 20 years.
It is also worth remembering that a substantial proportion of the premiums paid during the first year or two of the agreed term can end up in the pockets of the financial adviser who sells the policy. Some advisers are, in effect, admitting that their commission has been excessive and are now offering to share some of it with new customers through "cashback" deals.
As the Sunday Times reported last month, one of the companies that is making such an offer, ProtectDirect, a division of Torquil Clark Associates of Wolverhampton, has promised to rebate 65 per cent of the commission it receives on term assurance policies. Anyone taking out a Zurich term policy with a monthly premium of Pounds 59.62 would receive a tax-free rebate of Pounds 521.03.
The ProtectDirect cash-backs are, however, available on an execution-only basis. Torquil Clark is prepared to send a list of about 15 quotations to customers who know the type of policy they want, but if its consultants are asked to provide additional advice they will bank the full commission.
Free quotations from Zurich Municipal. Tel 0800 147 147, 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday; 9am to 1pm on Saturday TES2 november 1 1996