The mother of all policies

Multiple births are on the rise, reports Gwenda Brophy, but pregnancy cover helps ease a hard financial labour
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Those who stayed in on New Year's Eve avoiding rip-off restaurants and expensive entry charges to clubs seem to have had more on their minds than enjoying a drink with friends.

Those who stayed in on New Year's Eve avoiding rip-off restaurants and expensive entry charges to clubs seem to have had more on their minds than enjoying a drink with friends.

Boots has had an influx in applications for its pregnancy cover as couples who threw caution to the wind fear that they may be expecting an addition to the family.

Babies are expensive and multiple births send costs rocketing. As women increasingly delay having children until their thirties, research from the Office of National Statistics suggests that this heightens the likelihood of having twins. The multiple maternity rate - which measures the number of multiple births per thousand pregnancies - shows that the greatest proportional increase since the 1970s is among women aged between 35 and 39.

Those worried about the financial cost of a multiple birth can take advantage of the insurance cover now available. Women who take out Boots Pregnancy Cover receive a lump sum in the event of a multiple birth. As well as a 24-hour information line, and pay-outs for hospital stays beyond five days during pregnancy and seven days afterwards, there is a £1,500 benefit for twins and £5,000 for triplets.

Demand for multiple birth cover is increasing. Maria Donald, marketing executive at Zurich Personal Insurances, says: "A set of twins is born in approximately every 80 births in the UK, a rate that is higher for older age groups at around one in 50 births. Given that the likelihood of twins increases with age, and with many people deciding to have children later, the need for twins cover can only rise."

The Multiple Birth Policy, underwritten by Zurich, and available through broker Marcus Hearn, pays out a lump sum - between £1,000 and £3,000 - if two or more babies are born from the one pregnancy.

"This can assist with the purchase of necessities such as extra cots, clothes and so on. It could also assist with the cost of employing someone to help at home with the children, such as a maternity nurse, during the first few weeks," says Ms Donald.

For those who give birth to more than two babies in one go, the sum insured is doubled, at no extra premium.

Boots charges a flat rate of £95, while the premium on Zurich's policy varies according to age, and whether either partner has already shown a propensity to produce at the double. So a 25-year-old woman with no history of twins on her or her partner's side, would pay £42 for £1,000 of cover, £2,000 would cost £73, and £3,000, £109. A 35-year-old woman in similar circumstances would pay £55 for £1,000 of cover, £109 for £2,000 and £164 for £3,000.

If there is a history of twins on the female's side, a 25-year-old would pay £73, £145.80, and £220, respectively, while those with the double whammy of being thirty-something and having a set of twins on the mother's side would cost £109 for £1,000 cover, £219 for £2,000 and £328 for £3,000. Boots also excludes those who have a family history of multiple births.

The Zurich policy can be applied for before you get pregnant, but the birth must take place within two years. If you are already pregnant, the policy must be taken out by the eleventh week of pregnancy and before your first scan. The Boots policy requires that you are pregnant at the time of application but the pregnancy must be less than 18 weeks' duration.

Neither insurance policy is available for those women who are undergoing fertility treatment. Boots covers women aged from 18 to 45; Zurich has no age restrictions.

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