Friends Life is offering counselling and carer support services to customers taking out its Protect+ critical illness, life or income protection cover.
Louise Colley, managing director of protection at Aviva – Friends Life’s parent company, said: “Over a third of income protection claims paid out last year by Friends Life were for mental health conditions.
“We are acutely aware of how prevalent mental health issues are and know that access to the right support early on is vital in helping to prevent long-term mental health issues.”
■ 24-hour short-term counselling service during the policy term
■ The service is also available to customers’ partners and children aged over 18
■ Options include a face-to-face or telephone-based appointment if their case manager refers them, with up to six 50-minute sessions available for each circumstance
■ Specialist telephone-based carer support service
Robert Harvey, independent protection adviser for East Sussex-based Drewberry Insurance, said: “We tend to push insurers to include such advantages in their policies, so people can get help when they need it – whether or not they are claiming on their policy. So Friends Life’s move is a positive thing.
“People would rather remain at work than stay at home relying on payments from an income protection policy. These benefits mean it is possible for people to get help earlier, as otherwise they can struggle to find help early enough.”