Is it time to rethink how we talk about added value services for protection products?
I know I'm biased, but to me the breadth and the value of these living benefits have as much worth as the financial element of protection.
These living benefits are wide and ranging and provide instant access to; expert advice, mental health services, nutrition support, second medical opinions, physiotherapy and many more.
Mental health conditions are the most disclosed medical condition our underwriters deal with when assessing new applications for Life & Critical Illness cover, and around 95% of those are offered policies. So, the best thing for the customer and the adviser, is having these added value services available from the start of the policy, and often available to immediate family members too.
There's evidence that these services are being used by customers more and more. At Scottish Widows, the take up of customers using RedArc services is doubling year on year**. Mental health is the number one reason for Scottish Widows customers needing RedArc.
This isn't really a surprise, following the pandemic, the need for mental health services has never been higher. Latest analysis suggests mental health referrals are due to increase by a third to the NHS, at a time where 1.6 million are already waiting on the NHS for mental health related referrals*.
Virtual GP services have been a popular addition to added value services, and the speed and ease of appointments are a real draw for customers. Even post pandemic only 58% of NHS doctors appointments are face to face, so getting a fast appointment through a virtual GP service who can send notes on to your NHS doctor is an increasingly popular option. 40% of use of GP services is through family members, children's health is the most common reason for contacting the service - really showing the value to the whole family.
The repeat prescription and fit note service is also proving very popular with customers. They can have their prescriptions arranged and posted to their home address the same day as their appointment and fit notes emailed within the hour.
At Scottish Widows through our SW Care there's access to dozens of specialist firms, firms like podplan who can give advice on support and services available for elderly parents.
We've arranged through RedArc a partnership with the children's grief charity Winston's Wish, to ensure that all bereaved children from families insured with Scottish Widows are offered specialist help to deal with their grief and live with their loss.
Our new partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support provides both financial and emotional support to Scottish Widows customers living with and affected by cancer. This is regardless of whether or not they are claiming on their policy, and SW Care supplements this with experienced nurse support and a wide range of resources relevant to people living with cancer and their families.
But are providers helping advisers understand what's involved in them? I estimate, there must be 60-70 different added value services available in the protection market. So, like conditions you can't expect advisers to memorise whose does what, similarly I think there's little value in adding services to propositions that people won't use.
That's why to help advisers, we need to share case studies showing how using the services can have such a positive real-life impact. Give customers the insight that it's often not at point of claim on the financial side that these become the most powerful. I'd like to share one below.
Examples like Lindsay's story show why we should rethink and shout about the living benefits of Protection can be seen on the video below or on the Scottish Widows YouTube Channel
** SW/RedArc Data
This post was funded by Scottish Widows