According to ICMIF member Royal London, it paid out a total of GBP 13 million for Covid-19 claims in 2020. The majority of the claims (2,110) were death claims with 2,049 paid out on Whole of Life policies and 61 on Term Life policies. One Critical Illness claim was paid due to Covid-19 leading to a period of intensive care with a sum assured of GBP 50,000. Seven Income Protection claims were paid to customers where Covid-19 led to their absence from work, with an annual pay-out totalling GBP 46,000.
In addition to paying claims for Covid-19, customers dealing with the long-term effects of Covid-19 are also able to get support through Royal London’s Helping Hand service. Data from Helping Hand shows that in 2020, cancer was the biggest reason for nurses providing support, accounting for 19% of the support being offered to customers. This was followed by support for bereavement (18%) and mental health (14%).
With around one in 10 people in the UK who tested positive for Covid-19 still having symptoms 12 weeks later, Royal London says it is likely that individuals may need support as they recover. Helping Hand provides customers and their families with a dedicated nurse who is able to give tailored and personal support regardless of whether they are making a claim against their policies or just need some practical and emotional support to get them through a difficult time.
Data from Helping Hand shows the amount of interaction between nurses and patients has increased by more than 20% in 2020 compared to 2019. Nurses are increasingly dealing with more complex and emotional cases which requires them to dedicate more of their time.
As the long-term effects of Covid-19 can vary significantly, the care and support offered through Helping Hand is tailored to the individual’s needs. Nurses can help customers manage symptoms including chronic fatigue, pain and memory problems post-Covid as well as much needed emotional support. Customers can also be supported with many external therapies such as respiratory physiotherapy which involves breathing exercises and techniques, nutrition advice to help with weight gain whilst coping with swallowing difficulties post-ventilation, and physiotherapy to help musculoskeletal issues.
Craig Paterson, Chief Underwriter at Royal London, said: “Despite 2020 being an unpredictable year, we continued to pay claims promptly and support our customers through Covid-19. The pandemic has shown the importance of having protection in place and despite having to make changes to our underwriting and playing our part in avoiding putting additional strain on the NHS, we have offered cover to the majority of new applicants.
“We also recognise that, while receiving a pay-out can help to ease the financial strain of bereavement, money can’t always ease the emotional strain. Our Helping Hand service offered through protection policies bought through a financial adviser is available to customers and their families, so they can receive all the practical help and emotional support they need to help them through this difficult time,” Paterson concluded.