Income protection providers have taken steps to remind their clients and advisers of the services and helplines available to any policyholder concerned about the Coronavirus outbreak.
AIG said the use of its virtual GP service, which is a standard benefit of its protection policies, has risen over the winter period and would be increasingly important as policyholders seek information during what the UK government is calling its Coronavirus 'containment' period.
Data from AIG Life's Teladoc Health service revealed that 22 per cent of people who have used AIG Life’s Smart Health 24/7 virtual GP service over the past six months booked a meeting to discuss symptoms of viral infection.
Some 14 per cent were for common ailments such as colds and flu and 8 per cent sought help with sore throats and tonsillitis.
After speaking with a UK GP either by phone or via a video consultation using Smart Health, 54 per cent then stayed at home instead of consulting a medical practitioner in person.
Sue Helmont, marketing director at AIG Life, said: “Any AIG Life customer who has any concern about a medical condition should download the Smart Health GP by AIG app. It’s free and can be accessed from anywhere in the world or from the comfort of your own home, 24 hours a day.
"It’s especially popular with employees who are insured by us through an employer’s group protection scheme, so I encourage employers to remind their employees that they can use it for advice about any medical issue.”
While the government has said it would look to ease the financial burden of staff in the public sector and NHS who might have to self-isolate or be quarantined, there are many people in the UK who do not have the luxury of such a financial safety net.
This includes the more than 5 million people who are self-employed. According to LV, this is where advisers with clients who have income protection insurance can help by reminding clients of the details of their cover.
Debbie Kennedy, director of LV protection, said: “We believe it’s the right thing to do to support our members who are most financially vulnerable to the financial effects of Covid-19.
"Our individual common-sense approach and fast response will offer immediate support and comfort to those suffering from an immediate income shock brought about by the precautionary measures to contain the spread of the virus and those directly affected.”
She added that LV was monitoring and reviewing developments closely, particularly for our members who have income protection policies with short, day zero or one-week waiting periods.
Ms Kennedy added: "Over 40 per cent of these are self-employed, who based on current criteria will have no entitlement to Statutory Sick Pay. Any interruption to their ability to earn can have immediate and significant financial consequences. Therefore, their income protection insurance is an essential and important safety net."