In Focus: Protecting your client  

Can we change how your clients see protection insurance?

Sue Helmont

Sue Helmont

The purpose of our industry has always been to help people look after their money and to prepare financially for the future.

Now more than ever, there’s incredible potential for protection insurers to be more proactive in contributing to the health and wellbeing of their customers’ lives too.

By being a more consistent, supportive presence in people’s everyday lives, we can offer something that really benefits customers – as well as us as providers – in ways that could change their view of insurance.

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Not just paying out when they need to claim, but improving life so that customers don’t need to claim in the first place.

Today’s tech-savvy consumers are comfortable using their phone or digital device to manage their lives online 24/7. They expect fast, round the clock, high-quality service when they want it.

But with complex, chronic conditions on the rise, many of us are increasingly conscious of looking after our physical and mental health. 

It’s this insight that informed AIG’s collaboration with Teladoc Health two years ago to develop remote telehealth and wellbeing service, Smart Health.

Since then, technology has become both a new channel and a source of solutions for care, as the pandemic accelerated mass adoption and acceptance of a different approach.

In that time, we’ve seen the NHS do a phenomenal job, in difficult circumstances, to get us through the pandemic and save lives. Over the coming months and years, they will tackle the enormous backlog of non-Covid care, and the prospect of future Covid variants.

Our industry can expect the post-Covid world to bring further challenges:

  • Backlogs could mean delayed diagnosis and treatment of disease.
  • Mental ill-health increasing for a wide range of reasons.
  • There’s a prospect of a more sedentary life if more of us work remotely and spend more time in front of screens.

Cancer will inevitably remain the main reason for a claim across all protection products.

Our experience is that the right expert interventions can help reduce life, critical illness and income protection claims, then allow people to carry on living better lives. In one customer case, the correct diagnosis of a necrotic appendix by a Smart Health GP literally saved his life.

The global second medical opinion has also been impactful for hundreds of customers – 45 per cent who had their medical case reviewed saw a change in diagnosis or treatment.

As an employer, I’ve seen how we can make a positive impact to both people’s lives – and time – by encouraging customers to use services like Smart Health.

I raise the time issue as an aside, because according to the Office for National Statistics's 2020 data, employers lose more than 100mn working days every year to sickness.

The average journey time by car to see a GP in England is just over eight minutes, according to the government's Journey Time tables.

A round trip visit to the GP (including travel, the consultation and an estimated waiting room wait time of 10 minutes) will probably exceed half an hour. We’ve calculated that AIG’s own employee use of Smart Health adds up to 362.5 hours – essentially 10 weeks – of saved time.