Although there are some differences in pricing between companies, I’m thinking that there must be differences in what each quoted you, as the gap between companies isn’t that wide. Possible explanation of the differences in cover – fixed vs reviewable premium, ceasing age, escalation on cover, escalation in a claim. You’d need to be sure you’re comparing like with like.
Yes it is. Your username suggests that you’re also male which is a bonus too. At the moment males are cheaper than females for Income Protection cover, but from 21st December when gender rating is banned following a European Court of Justice ruling, Income Protection premiums for males are likely to rise.
No. Canada Life tend to be used only for higher-risk occupations due to their restrictive definition of disability, but apart from that no one company stands out as the leader of the other four.
It very much depends on the nature of the condition. Without knowing what the condition is, I can only say that an insurer might (a) exclude future claims related to the condition but cover everything else, (b) accept the application with a loading on the premium or (c) decline the application – only likely in fairly severe circumstances.
Yes you can ring each of the companies yourself and arrange a policy. As I’m a financial broker myself, my views on this are not exactly unbiased, but I’d just make two points: (1) You’ll get the same premium by going directly to a company as by going via a broker. The premium includes commission for a broker. If you go directly to the company, you don’t get a cheaper premium; the company just keeps the commission for themselves. (2) By going directly to an insurance company, they will only tell you about the features of their particular product. They will not tell you how it compares with the others in terms of features. For example, New Ireland’s product has a few features that other companies don’t offer, only Aviva offers a 4-week waiting period etc.