Aviva has reported a tenfold increase in the number of calls to helplines offered as part of an Employee Assistance Programme.
Speaking at a Corporate Adviser virtual round table on group risks’ response to the coronavirus epidemic yesterday, Aviva’s head of group protection distribution Jason Ellis said that despite the increase demand for EAP services all calls were being handled and serviced promptly and efficiently. “Service standards remain at the level we expect. Suppliers have been able to maintain levels of business continuity.”
Ellis added that while they had seen calls increase significantly, this spike was not as high as the insurer had originally anticipated.
Canada Life Group Insurance marketing director Paul Avis agrees that these support services have a key role to play at this time. The insurer is also providing its BusinessCare support, relating to employment law. Providing helplines and online documentation, this helps employers ensure that their businesses remain compliant with any new legislation that comes in during this period, he says.
Advisers said that insurers offering other support services — such as virtual GPs and second opinion options — are also reporting large increases in the number of calls.
Howden Employee Benefits and Wellbeing head of benefits strategy Steve Herbert says this is hardly surprising given most people cannot get a regular GP appointment at present. But he points out that many of these support services are staffed by former medical staff, some of whom will be returning to work for the NHS during this crisis. “It is important to manage expectations. There is more demand for these services but there may be less people to answer these queries. It may be important to communicate this to clients and employees where necessary.”
Cavendish Ware director Roy McLoughlin also pointed out that in the coming months the mental health and wellbeing services offered on these policies will become increasingly important, particularly for many smaller businesses who many not have the HR departments to offer specialist support to employees dealing with the fallout of this crisis.