Insurer Zurich has introduced a range of measures to support customers in response to the coronavirus.
Protection customers can choose to defer monthly premiums for up to three months, to help with a temporary reduction or loss of household income.
For existing income protection customers Zurich is also easing its career break restrictions, allowing policyholders to reduce their cover level to a minimum of £250 a month, with their monthly premiums adjusted accordingly.
Customers will then have the choice to reinstate their original cover level within 12 months, without needing further underwriting.
The insurer said the career benefit option was usually only available after 12 months, but can now be accessed immediately.
In light of the coronavirus, Zurich confirmed that for policyholders who choose to use the benefit it will not count towards their single option to do so.
The insurer also introduced an option for Life Protection Platform policyholders, who can opt to lower their sum assured for six months, before increasing it back to the original level without underwriting.
Peter Hamilton, head of retail protection at Zurich, said: “We are currently assessing how we can best support advisers and our customers in response to Covid-19. Ultimately, our aim in offering customers this added flexibility, is to help them maintain vital cover at this critical time.
“These features provide an extension of the benefits already available on our Life Protection Platform – enabling customers to flex their cover up and down as their circumstances change. We are also keen to remind policyholders of add-ons like Zurich Support Services where they can access advice on wellbeing as well as professional counselling services."
Roy McLoughlin, associate director at Cavendish Ware and co-chair of the Income Protection Taskforce, said: “Any measures taken by protection providers to support their customers in keeping vital cover are very much welcomed. Life insurance, critical illness and income protection cover have never been more important.
“While many households will be concerned about finances, flexibility like that being offered by Zurich means that people can retain their cover, making them more financially resilient should the worst happen.”
Last month the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries issued a guide for advisers as it warned that clients may cancel their protection insurance direct debits, as a result of financial difficulty during the coronavirus crisis.