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Client use of support services soars amid pandemic

Client use of support services soars amid pandemic
Photo: Julia Cameron via Pexels

Use of support services has increased over the pandemic, marking a significant change in the way clients - both corporate and individual - have come to view their insurance policies.

In the group space, the Group Risk Development trade body said more end users had taken advantage of the support services attached to their company's healthcare and income protection policies.

According to Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for Grid, embedded services such as employee assistance programmes, online GP services, second medical opinion and mental health services came into their own over 2020 and 2021, more than doubling on 2019's usage.

Moxham said: "Group risk benefits have really come into their own during the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only in terms of paying out £218.7m in Covid-related death claims during 2020 and the first half of 2021, but also in terms of the use of the additional help and support that comes along with a group risk policy."

She said Grid's interim Covid-19 Claims Survey 2020 and 2021 had revealed an "exponential" increase in the numbers of interactions that employees had with their insurance policy services.

Interactions rose from 74,707 in 2019 to 138,222 over 2020, according to Grid data.

Meanwhile, in the individual space, provider AIG also noted a significant rise in the numbers of clients using additional services attached to their policies.

For example, AIG's free Smart Health service has seen demand leap for mental health support, more than 50 per cent of which has come from people aged 18 to 35 over the course of the pandemic. 

Between January and March 2021, more than 350 people had more than 900 mental health consultations - this was 52 per cent higher than the demand the private psychology service saw in the whole of 2020.

As FTAdviser mentioned at the Protection Review conference 2021 on December 8, there are many reasons why providers need to package protection better, and advisers need to promote support services better, in order to help people understand the value of their insurance policies goes far beyond a potential payout should the worst happen.

As said at the conference: "Necessity is the mother of invention. 

"There is a need to help reduce the burden on the NHS, because the pandemic has shown us that the NHS might not always be able to help tomorrow’s client. 

"There is is a clear need, highlighted by behaviour patterns among clients during 2020’s lockdowns, for virtual GP, mental health counselling and prescription services.

"There is a need to stop thinking of these as add-ons and start packaging products in a more consumer-friendly way, where the technology helps the end user to interact seamlessly with their protection policy and the related support services."

simoney.kyriakou@ft.com