Prevention is better than a cure. It’s a phrase we are all familiar with but in an industry that provides valuable financial support to customers when the worst happens, should we be doing more to help prevent the scenarios we insure against in the first place? There are a long list of additional benefits that current protection plans offer with some providing assistance the impacts of injury, illness or death and others helping clients lead healthier lifestyles. One such additional benefit is access to nutritional support and in this article we look at who offers this and the potential benefits.
It is no surprise that poor diet can lead to an increased risk of a number of conditions. What may be a surprise to many is that poor diet has actually overtaken smoking as one of the leading causes of death in the UK as Protection Guru’s panel of doctors explain:
“Studies often look at how death rates are influenced by risk factors. These can be through individual lifestyle choices (such as smoking or diet), environmental (air pollution) or those linked with metabolic syndrome (MetS). MetS is a medical term for a group of risk factors that occur together and significantly increase the risk of heart attacks, stroke and type 2 diabetes. These are as follows;
- Abdominal obesity
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar levels
- Problems with blood lipids (cholesterol)
The Global Burden of Disease analysis of England in 2013, showed that out of all of these risk factors, diet accounted for the most deaths. This was almost 20% of all deaths and had overtaken tobacco smoking as the leading cause.
A more recent global study in 2017 concluded that poor diet is responsible for 22% of all adult deaths around the world (Afshin et al., 2019). UK figures were again as high as 18.9%. Diet was mostly associated with cardiovascular disease mortality (heart attacks and strokes), but also higher cancer deaths.”
As one of the biggest causes of death in the UK it makes sense for insurers to offer support to help improve the diet of clients and currently eight providers offer some form of nutritional support. These range from one to one access to nurses or nutrition specialists to simple online blogs and nutrition plans. The insurers offering such services are:
There may be a host of reasons why a client may want to improve their diet. Most commonly this will include losing weight or to improving general nutrition. All services will offer support in these areas, however there might also be more specific reasons for changing eating habits which may be related to specific conditions or lifestyle choices. Below we have highlighted a range of these and which insurers would provide support in each area:
As with most added value benefits on offer today, some insurers will offer access to the services to the immediate family of the life assured as well as the life assured(s). Most commonly this will be to the clients’ partner/spouse/civil partner. Of those that offer nutritional support, Guardian are the only insurer that requires a claim to be in place before the service can be used and as such it is only available to the life assured. The insurers that offer critical illness propositions extend nutritional support to the children of the life assured, whilst those that only offer income protection only provide access to the partner/spouse/civil partner alongside the life assured.
In terms of accessing the service, insurers offer a range of channels. Discussing nutrition or personal circumstances that might have led to the need to obtaining advice on nutrition may be a sensitive area. As such some clients may not want to speak to someone in person with others more comfortable doing so. As such providing a range of channels through which help can be obtained will help support more clients. Vitality provide access to a wide range of blogs and recipes for different needs and these are available via their client website providing a light touch service. AIG (via Teladoc Health), Cirencester Friendly, Guardian, Legal & General, Royal London and Scottish Widows (all offered via RedArc) offer the ability to speak to a nurse or nutritionist and offer a number of ways to do this.
Protection products are all about improving a client or their families financial resilience in the event of death, injury or illness. This will always be the core of such plans and it is clearly important that such products deliver on this promise. With such plans generally having a long time span it is important that we can engage the client in the here and now to ensure that the value of such plans is not forgotten. Those that can help clients lead a healthier lifestyle, reduce the risk of the worst happening, whilst providing financial support if it does, should be applauded. A conversation about the clients nutritional habits may not be something an adviser wants to have, however such benefits should be highlighted to ensure that the client is aware that they have these benefits available to them if they wish to use them.