Over the last few years many insurers’ have started to have a much more pro-active approach to client health to complement the traditional reactive approach of paying a financial sum when something happens. Many added value benefits have been included in plans designed to help consumers’ better engage with their wellbeing whether mental or physical, in order to prevent any conditions escalating to the point where a claim may need to be paid. This week we look at GP services, which are another example of such benefits, where insurers’ offer clients’ flexible access to GPs via a range of channels.

Long waiting periods and inconvenient times often mean that booking an appointment with your GP can be extremely frustrating. GP services, which are offered by some insurers’, provide an alternative for clients’ offering far quicker access to a GP at a time that suits them via a range of channels  to suit their needs.

Currently, only a small number of providers offer access to GPs via their policies. The table below highlights the insurers’ that do offer such services and via which policies these are provided:

As Guardian and The Exeter currently only offer Life and Critical Illness and Life and Income Protection policies respectively, this highlights that Legal & General are the only insurer out of the four that do not offer the service on their full product range.

Of the above providers, only Legal & General offer their GP service as a contractual benefit but unlike the others, their GP24 service comes at an additional cost of £3.25 per month. In addition to the GP service, the GP24 service also offers a private consultation concierge service which helps clients’ locate private consultants, specialists and hospitals.

 In an ideal world, our clients’ will remain healthy and not need to access a GP, however if a client is suffering from a chronic ailment that might require them to contact a GP several times it is useful to understand the limits insurers’ may place on their GP services.  Legal & General and Guardian offer unlimited access to their GPs whereas LV= limit usage to 5 appointments per year and The Exeter limit usage for their clients’ to 4 times per annum.

Use of GP services can extend beyond the life assured, some providers also allow members of the immediate family to access the benefit. The chart below shows who each provider makes their GP services available to:

As the graph shows, all providers allow the life assured’s children to use their GP services however, each provider has a different rule on the maximum age to which they can access the benefit. LV= and Legal & General will provide their service to children up to the age of 16 and 22 respectively. Guardian and The Exeter on the other hand do not set a limit on the age at which children of the life assured can access the benefit.

GP services can provide access to GPs through multiple communication channels. As it is not always practical for a client to fit a face to face meeting in their schedule, being able to contact a GP online or over the phone can be helpful. Some providers also enable clients to send messages to GPs adding greater flexibility. The chart below details how providers offer their GP services:

To deliver the services, providers partner with third-party medical specialists. The Exeter and LV= have partnered with Square Health. Legal & General have teamed up with Healix Health Services, whilst Guardian source their service from Medical Solutions.

In addition to consultations, the above providers have looked to add further benefits to their propositions, such as their prescription services. If the GP believes medicine is required, they can arrange a private prescription, which saves the client time by not having to visit their local NHS practice. Consumers’ should be aware however, that the cost of the medicine may be more expensive if obtained with a private prescription rather than through one issued by an NHS GP. View the table below to see what other services the above providers now offer:

By offering the service to the life assured’s partner and children via a wide range of channels, The Exeter’s proposition in combination with Square Health is very strong. Guardian are also commendable with no usage limits and an equally wide range of channels to access the service.