Manulife Insurance has made improvements to its critical illness (CI) insurance product.

On Jan. 12, the insurer announced that it is widening coverage under its Lifecheque CI policies. Manulife says that these enhancements “reflect its focus on providing attractive health insurance products to Canadians” and also brings it in line with the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association’s 2013 benchmark definitions for critical illnesses.

The Alzheimer’s disease category is being expanded to include dementia, while the definition for Parkinson’s disease will now include specified atypical parkinsonian disorders. Manulife is also adding two new covered conditions, namely aplastic anemia and bacterial meningitis.

Under the Lifecheque early intervention benefit, coverage will also apply to those who suffer from chronic lymphocytic leukemia Rai stage 0, Papillary or follicular thyroid cancer Stage T1, and Stage 1 malignant melanoma. The waiting period for Manulife's monthly LivingCare benefit, which is paid should the insured become functionally dependent, is also being reduced from 180 to 90 days.

Finally, the insurer is removing the sub-standard rating to return of premium riders when the associated base insurance coverage is also rated sub-standard. On the matter of price reductions, Manulife says these will vary according to plan types and return of premium riders.