The long-term implications of COVID-19 on group insurance strategies
Regardless of whether an employee contracted COVID-19, the pandemic will have a lasting effect on their attitude to health and wellbeing. As well as heightened awareness of their health and the risks they face, it will also make many employees more conscious of the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
Rebecca Adlington OBE and Legal & General Not A Red Card Campaign Ambassador will be in conversation with REBA’s Debi O’Donovan during the Employee Wellbeing Congress. Join them on 9 September at 12:10 as they discuss how to prevent burnout culture in the workplace.
In this new normal, group insurance has an important role to play. A policy offers the reassurance that, if something happens to their health, they and their family will be looked after financially. In addition, as insurers increasingly include valued added services, such as health and wellbeing apps, second medical opinion services and mental health counselling, there’s an opportunity to support employees wishing to look after their health.
However, as the pandemic continues to evolve, there are some long-term changes that could be seen on group insurance strategies that employers should be aware of when planning their future health and wellbeing strategy. Here are our key considerations:
More demand from employees
It wasn’t quite up there with flour and toilet paper on the panic buying list, but demand for protection products has increased as fears about COVID-19 emerged. This was highlighted by PwC, which saw a significant increase in the number of internet searches for life insurance products during lockdown, compared with the same period the previous year.
Not only will this demand make group risk products a key part of the benefits package, but it is also something that’s becoming more valued and much easier to communicate.
Greater focus on early intervention services
As the world went into lockdown, so too did many of the health screening programmes. For instance, analysis by Cancer Research UK found that, at the beginning of June, around 2.1 million people were waiting for breast, bowel or cervical cancer screening – screenings which would normally result in the diagnosis of around 3,800 cancers.
With a prompt diagnosis and treatment affecting the outcome of cancer and many other health conditions, insurers’ early intervention services will become a much more central part of a protection proposition.
Cover for dependants
The phrase ‘we’re all in it together’ became something of a mantra during lockdown, and it’s set to live on way beyond any COVID-19 vaccine. Just as demand for protection has increased, employees will also appreciate being able to extend cover to their loved ones, especially where it’s simple and cost-effective.
More support for healthy lifestyles
As the Prime Minister Boris Johnson can testify with his plans to crack down on obesity in the UK, being healthy proved to be an important weapon in the fight against COVID-19. With the desire for healthier lifestyles gaining traction, group protection products can provide the information and support employees want. This will lead to greater focus on the value-added benefits of these policies, with competition among insurers ultimately benefitting employers and their employees.
Adapting to new ways of working
Home working offers employees greater flexibility and work/life balance benefits, but it also brings some health challenges. A badly designed workspace can lead to musculoskeletal problems while, without the commute or the walk to the printer or coffee machine, home workers tend to be less active than their office-based colleagues. It can also adversely affect mental health, with some employees struggling with the isolation.
Group risk insurers will need to understand how this shift to remote working affects risk, and develop added-value services that ensure employees can enjoy healthy lifestyles, wherever they work.
This article is provided by Legal & General.
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