So called ‘added-value services’ have grown in popularity with protection insurers in recent
years. We were the first company to partner with an insurer in offering one.
Insurers keen to differentiate loyalty and build trust have added services such as employee assistance programmes, second medical opinions, GP helplines, health and fitness apps and personal nurse services.
The vast majority, if not all added-value services are provided free at the point of use, the cost being borne by the insurer, or rather the policyholder ultimately.
Added-value services are there to help the individuals and their families. But do all the advantages also benefit the insurers and employers, or are there conflicts of interest?
Insurers, like all businesses, need to generate a profit. So increasing premium income, managing expenses and keeping a rein on the value of claims paid out are all important.
Insurers provide added-value services for a variety of reasons – to demonstrate brand values and trust, to be seen to be going the extra mile for their customers, sometimes including families, and to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
What is rarely factored in to the equation by insurers is the potential positive impact on claims, particularly relevant in income protection. Many services are available through the life of the policy, as well as at point of claim, so it stands to reason that a well-supported individual who gets help at an early stage is less likely to need to make a claim, or at least reduce the length of time that they’ll need to claim.
Employers are looking for a double-pronged approach – help to keep their employees physically
and mentally well in the first place, and for those who are unwell, help to get them back to work quickly, but on a sustainable basis.
Group insurance is seen as an important aspect of a comprehensive employee benefit package, ensuring that employees are protected financially should they become seriously unwell.
Added-value services can play a key role in employee wellbeing and absence management without the need for a claim. It is widely recognised that good work is good for people, and the vast majority of people want to work.
In addition to the benefits of helping to maintain a healthy and productive workforce, employers also see a demonstration of their duty of care, employee engagement, aiding recruitment and retention, loyalty and being seen to be a caring and responsible employer.
It could be argued that there are conflicts of interest between the individual, the insurer and the employer. But a ‘patient-centric’ approach, that is, where the patients’ best interests are at the heart can actually, in practice, serve all three. A service tailored to the needs of the individual can also achieve the agendas of the insurer and the employer.
A real win-win-win situation. However, it’s important to accept that sometimes a longer game is necessary. For instance, an individual may need to extend a period of absence to fully recover emotionally as well as physically. This may be a frustration to an insurer or employer, but is usually beneficial in the long-run with a successful sustained return to work in some shape or form and a positive experience for the individual. Going back to work early may seem to fit the insurer’s or employer’s agenda, but can actually be short-sighted and result in a longer absence ultimately. Playing the long game can successfully meet all agendas.
For those who cannot return to work, then support and guidance can help people to manage their health condition as effectively as possible. When appropriate, with reassurance, individuals feel empowered to have discussions with insurers and employers.
Discussions with employers about terminating employment can be distressing for the individual, even when handled sensitively and fairly by employers. Individuals are often unaware that insurers may be willing to offer a settlement to the claimant. With appropriate support and
guidance for the individual, these issues can be resolved to mutual benefit, insurers seeing the end to a long-term claim, employers addressing a workforce shortage, and a big relief to the individual.
We often find that individuals using in house rehabilitation services are suspicious of them, fearing saying too much or being forced back to work too early. An unbiased external patient-centric service is often much better received.