We’re all familiar these days with the benefits of good nutrition as part of a healthy lifestyle. Putting the right and best ‘fuel in the tank’ is the start point to a healthier lifestyle and the services offered by a nutritionist can help us all understand things more clearly. Support offering accurate information on new foods, developing a nutritional plan, meal planning and motivation and support can all help us with healthier lifestyles which has to be good for us all.

Recognising this, it’s no surprise that leading product providers are increasingly offering access to a nutritionist as an added value service across their suite of protection products, but certain features are more commonly found than others. In this article we take a look at how these services differ.

Many providers offer the benefit across a range of policies – 10 applicable to life cover, 21 to critical illness and 11 to income protection. The Exeter offer this service on their Managed Life plan but not on income protection

All bar one offered access at any time during the life of the policy, with just Guardian limiting to point of claim on its life cover and critical illness plan. Meanwhile across all three product types, only Royal London limited the level of cost it would pick up from £250-£500. All other providers covered the full cost of the service.

Similarly, most providers offering the benefit extended the cover to include the life assured’s partner, spouse or civil partner and their children in the case of life cover and critical illness, with the exceptions of Guardian and Vitality. The latter also do not extend its benefit within income protection beyond that of the life assured.

There was, however a bit of variation in terms of the ages to which the children would be covered.

Across all three product areas, Aegon consistently stated that its benefit would be capped at 16, or 24 if the child was (or children were) in full-time employment. AIG and Scottish Widows capped theirs at 21, while Royal London gave an upper age limit of 23 years old.

Most of the policies were able to extend their reach to the plan owners (where they were not the life assured) with the exception of Legal & General, which kept it restricted to the life assured on its standard life cover, its four CI policies – Standard, CI Extra, CI Extra plus Standard Child, and Standard plus Child CI Extra, and its three IP plans – standard, Low Start and Rental.

Beyond these main features, comparisons between providers are more nuanced.

A handful of leading healthcare and nursing specialist services underpin the benefits, with RedArc the most commonly used across all plans. RedArc was available through Guardian, Legal & General, Royal London and Scottish Widows, extending to Cirencester Friendly for both its Income Assured Enhanced and My Earnings Protected IP policies.

In addition to RedArc, Vitality offers its own proprietary nutritionist services across its entire range: its life policy VitalityLife Personal Protection Plan, VitalityLife Income Protection Cover, Income Protection Cover Plus and VitalityLife Primary, as well as its range of seven CI plans.

AIG Smart Health is a white-labelled version of Teladoc Health, which fulfils its Instant Life, Life Start and Your Life Plan Term Assurance life cover policies; its critical illness range – AIG CiC Start, Key 3 and Your Life Plan Critical Illness with Term Assurance, and AIG Your Life Plan Income Protection.

Aegon (Personal Protection) uses Health Assured across its three product lines and The Exeter uses Square Health (via Health Wise) for its Managed Life plan.

The circumstances under which policyholders wanted to take up the help of a nutritionist remained fairly consistent across the three product types. The types of nutrition accounted for related to: pregnancy; improved diet; weight loss; food for training; children’s food; eating for nutrition; condition-specific needs, such as diabetes, managing cholesterol or hypertension; post-operation, illness; allergies; intolerances and preferences, such as those favouring a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Irrespective of product area, Aegon cited the most exclusions; nutrition over pregnancy, children’s diet, post-operation and particular preferences.

Elsewhere, Royal London was the only provider to exclude nutrition for training, as it joined Aegon with regard to food preferences.  Vitality also did not include nutrition around following an operation or illness. Scottish Widows only offered the benefit as part of its life and CI cover, not IP. By and large, the providers’ terms were consistent across life, critical illness and income protection.

While the details of what was included within the benefit terms threw up some disparity, the way in which the benefit was accessed was also quite varied.

Of the providers offering nutritionist access as part of their proposition, five – Cirencester Friendly, Guardian, Legal & General, Royal London and Scottish Widows – do so via face-to-face meetings, seven offered the option of videoconferencing, with the same seven offering a telephone service.

App-based services are less common, with only The Exeter and Vitality offering this as a route to the service, as opposed to online, which is the preferred route from seven providers, with only Royal London, Scottish Widows and The Exeter not offering an online option.

In Royal London’s case, this is replicated across its IP and CI plans, as was Scottish Widows’ lack of online presence in the case of its CI cover.

Many other preferences are similar across the providers’ critical illness and income protection propositions, with 10 of the total of 21 CI plans and six of the 11 IP plans offering face-to-face access, and 13 and seven offering videoconference and telephone-based services respectively, with the policies from Aegon and Vitality again the exceptions.

Vitality was however the only provider with an app-based service on its range of products.

One can glean from this the providers hold different priorities in terms of the areas of nutrition they are not yet comfortable including, but there is at least sufficient choice available. Over half of providers offer support for this valuable service and should be commended for doing so. Guardian, Cirencester Friendly and L&G are noteworthy for offering the widest range of access methods but Aegon, AIG, The Exeter and Vitality do not offer a face to face service which some clients may prefer.