More 2 Life quadruples market share

That compares with 3.5% for the same period in 2010 shortly after the lender became the first to launch enhanced equity release deals for customers with health or lifestyle conditions.

Jon King, managing director of More 2 Life, said: “Enhanced equity release is firmly established in the mainstream and is helping driving expansion of the market as a whole.

“Efficient targeted underwriting which enables customers and advisers to receive fast responses has made enhanced equity release one of the major growth areas in the market.

“Enhanced annuities have been the growth story in the annuities market and enhanced equity release will match that growth demonstrating the need for innovation in the market as a whole.”

The strong fourth quarter enabled the company, which has also launched the first equity release plan enabling customers to pay interest and offering a drawdown facility, to achieve a 13% market share of intermediated lump sum business for 2012.

And it is confident growth will continue in 2013 on the back of an expanding equity release market and increasing interest in enhanced equity release driven by a focus on individual underwriting and lower rates.

The equity release market as a whole saw total value climb 17% in 2012 to £925.7 million in 2012 – its best year since 2009 – with the average value of plans hitting the highest level since 1998.

More 2 Life benefited from being able to lend at higher loan-to-values following an increase in maximum LTVs by 11% taking the maximum for a 65-year-old with the highest level of impairment to 45.1% from 34% and the maximum for a 70-year-old to 50% from 39%.

Its switch to individual underwriting carried out online and focusing on factors such as weight, smoking, general health and early retirement on ill-health grounds enables it to respond quickly to advisers.

More 2 Life launched enhanced equity release in June 2010 and was the first to offer improved LTVs to customers with medical conditions or lifestyles affecting life expectancy. It also enables customers to protect a level of equity in their property for beneficiaries

Its continuing focus on innovation saw it launch the Interest Choice Plan in November last year which allows customers to choose the level of interest they pay on loans and the term while fixing their interest rate and having access to a lifetime drawdown facility.

Customers can choose to pay all or part of the monthly interest on their loan and choose how much to withdraw. Those who do not take the whole loan-to-value can make further withdrawals.

Its enhanced equity release loans are available with rates of between 6.25% and 7.29% on minimum property values of £70,000 with a maximum loan of £500,000.