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How do insurers help income protection clients needing a career change?

How do insurers help income protection clients needing a career change?

In reading this article you will understand:

  • Which providers offer support services to help income protection clients change their career upon their return to work
  • What specific support each provider is able to offer clients
  • The ways those services are offered and when they can be accessed

Some clients who claim on their income protection policy may find that when it is time to return to work, the job they did before their accident or illness is no longer suits them. Their outlook on life may have changed and they may want to move their career in a completely different direction, having had the time out to think and evaluate what they really want out of life.  

For others, a career change may be down to necessity rather than choice. Jobs which involve a lot of physical activity outdoors, lots of standing up and heavy lifting such as construction work may no longer be possible to do if someone has sustained physical injuries. In that situation, a desk job may be more suitable because it is kinder on the body. Stress is also a common cause of income protection claims, so it may be necessary for clients who have claimed on their policies for this reason to move to a less stressful or emotionally demanding job.  

Rather than leave clients to their own devices if they need to change job or career following a claim, some insurers provide support services to help them find a new role or a completely different occupation that will involve retraining. In this insight we will discuss the different aspects of the career support that providers offer. Providers can help in lots of ways, ranging from tips on how to write a CV and interview technique through to professional help in deciding what roles might be suitable and how retraining might be an option. 

Our chart shows that of the 11 insurers supplying data, just five – Aviva, Holloway Friendly, LV=, Royal London and Zurich – offer career support services on their income protection plans. 

Most insurers that offer career support services do so as a contractual benefit which is included as standard within their income protection plans, so clients do not pay extra for it. Holloway Friendly’s career support services are not contractual so could be removed in the future however, they do not charge extra for these services. This means clients who use these services will not experience a premium increase. 

Our table shows that Aviva and LV= are the only insurers to offer their career support services through all channels, from face to face to email. Most insurers provide their services through two of the four channels listed but vary in terms of which combination they use. 

Our table shows the telephone is the most common way of delivering career support services, as all four income protection providers offering these services do so by phone. Zurich run a 24-hour telephone service during weekdays, while the services run by other providers have set opening and closing times. 

Aviva, LV= and Royal London operate their telephone services between the usual office hours of 9am to 5pm, while Holloway Friendly’s service runs an hour later, until 6pm. Insurers do, however, understand that they need to be flexible in their availability, so clients can speak to them at the most convenient time. To this end, most offer telephone career support services at weekends, with the exceptions being Aviva and Royal London. Even if someone is not working, there may be hospital appointments to attend, children to pick up from school and so on during the week, so insurers which make it possible for clients to speak to someone outside normal office hours are making things easier for clients. 

Aviva, Holloway Friendly and LV= have the option of face-to-face career support services but overall, providers tend to offer these services remotely – not only due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, but perhaps because these services are efficient and cost-effective. Career support by email is more popular among insurers than web-based services run online. Only Aviva and LV= provides online career support services, while Zurich, Royal London and LV do so through email, possibly because that is a simple and effective way to communicate directly with clients. 

Comparing the type of support each provider offers, there are core services that all insurers offer and more specialist services that are offered by fewer providers. 

Our table shows that CV writing services, interview preparation services and help with researching the job market are available with all five insurers that provide career support services. However, Key Person temporary replacement services and assistance with recruiting a full-time replacement for a key person are only available with Royal London. This is because they offer Key Person income protection plans as part of their business protection product ranges, so the careers support services on those products will be tailored towards that market. 

For some insurers, providing career support services at any time during the life of the income protection plan is a way of enabling clients to benefit from the policy even if they don’t need to claim. Royal London and Zurich take this approach, while Aviva, Holloway Friendly and LV= offer these services only at the point of claim, when making a job or career change will perhaps be more urgent. 

All four insurers should be commended for putting support in place to help clients through some potentially difficult career decisions that can follow illness or injury, and helping them to get back on track. However, three providers, AvivaLV= and Zurich are particularly strong. 

As the only providers using all communication channels to deliver career support services, Aviva and LV= stands out for bending over backwards to accommodate clients’ preferences in this respect. Similarly, Zurich’s efforts to provide careers support to clients around the clock, with a 24-hour telephone service during weekdays, a weekend service and support at any time during the policy rather than only at the point of claim, should also be recognised. 

Royal London is also a good choice for those requiring Key Person benefits, albeit with more restricted opening hours on its telephone career support services. 

Things to reflect on for CPD:

  • What are your top three learning points from this article and how can you apply them in your client conversations? How might this differ for different client occupations / demographics.
  • Required further reading: This related Protection Guru article examines how providers rehabilitation services support clients who return to the same role. Consider this article together with the learnings from today’s insight and reflect on how the two offerings compare and how they may affect your recommendation.
  • Required further reading: This related Protection Guru article explains Proportionate Benefit.  Understand the calculations providers use to calculate this benefit and when it can be used to support clients. Are there any ways that providers could change this benefit to improve customer outcomes? Discuss and reflect on this with your peers.

About The Author

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As well as writing for Protection Guru, Amanda Newman Smith is the feature writer at adviser trade publication Money Marketing. She started her career at a local newspaper in London and has been writing about protection products since 2000. In her previous role at Money Marketing she specialised in analysis of new financial products, including those in the protection market. Having recently become interested in antiques, Amanda spends her free time with her husband and their three children, hunting for unloved pieces to restore to their former glory.

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