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PROFESSIONAL people over 35 can now join a group scheme and get critical-illness cover, which pays a tax-free lump sum of pounds 100,000 for a flat pounds 600 a year premium, regardless of age. Up to age 64 the insurance pays out immediately after a critical illness such as a heart attack or cancer is diagnosed, and also covers permanent incapacity as a result of an accident or ill-health.

Existing medical conditions are excluded, but the flat fee compares with a rising scale ranging from pounds 633 at age 35 to pounds 1,803 at age 50 and pounds 2,521 at age 60 for individual cover at another insurer. The policies are underwritten by Swiss Life and offered by Thomson's Financial Planning Consultants. Tel 0171-828-9297.

HOLIDAYMAKERS in more than 40 countries can draw up to pounds 250 a day in foreign currency, free of commission, 365 days a year, and paying only the going exchange rate, if they have Gold Current Accounts with Norwich & Peterborough Building Society. Holders get a Link/Switch/ cheque-guarantee card that doubles as a currency card.

BIRMINGHAM Midshires Building Society is offering cash back of up to 5 per cent of the amount borrowed, up to a maximum of pounds 7,500, to home- owners who take its standard-rate mortgages, currently at 8.45 per cent. Loans of up to 90 per cent of valuation are on offer, but early redemption within five years attracts a penalty.

MANCHESTER Building Society is offering a "permanent" discount of 0.6 per cent off its standard variable rate, currently 8.44 per cent, for loans between pounds 60,000 and pounds 250,000, to attract remortgage business.