Income protection is gaining a lot of attention right now, as it should be.
It is one of the most valuable things that a person can buy, and hopefully never use.
A key aspect of these policies are the intervention and rehabilitation services that are provided. As soon as a policyholder is ill and notifies the insurer, support services can kick in and hopefully help the person get better before a claim even starts.
I was speaking with Jim Harris of the Health Claims Bureau recently. He said this early intervention is key to their work, and the stats show it.
Harris explained that more than 90 per cent of people that are supported within the first four weeks of being ill return to work. In comparison, when someone is not offered support until the 26 week mark or longer, there is less than a 5 per cent return rate.
There is no doubt that early intervention is best for all involved. For the insured it means that they have received help and are better again. For the insurer, they have fulfilled their promise to the client, and also been able to close the claim.
It could be seen as a win-win situation for all, but yet the importance of early intervention does not seem to be fully understood.
Seeing the statistics, it makes sense that insurers be incredibly active to engage with rehabilitation providers as soon as they are aware of a potential claim.
I am aware of a recent case where an insurer waited six months before notifying rehabilitation services of a claim, despite paying the claim for months and receiving requests from the claimant to get support sooner.
In contrast, I know of another case where the insurer offered rehabilitation support on the day that the income protection claim was approved. They were very respectful of the upcoming treatment that the claimant faced and did not push to start interventions until they were ready, but made sure that the support was on hand straight away.
The differences between delivering on the promise to support clients making a claim is clear between these examples.
While it is evident that the Covid-19 pandemic has, understandably, affected the speed of providing support services, it is my hope that we are now at a stage where delays in supporting clients are a thing of the past.
Kathryn Knowles is managing director of Cura Financial Services