How does Scottish Widows’ clinic in a pocket compare?
Over the last year by far the most popular “added value benefit” in terms of views of articles and selections within our various benchmarking tools has been virtual GP services. Whilst clearly driven by difficulties in being able to visit a GP face to face throughout the pandemic, the general consensus from advisers we speak to is that the value of such services will not diminish when restrictions are lifted. With more insurers now offering virtual GP services than not, it seems that this has become the must have benefit and today. Scottish Widows, today have become the latest insurer to join this list and in this article we assess what they will be offering and how it compares.
The new service from Scottish Widow’s is named “Clinic in a Pocket” and is provided in partnership with Square Health. It is available as a mobile app via all good app stores and the first thing that advisers will notice is that in its current guise, there is no reference of Scottish Widows anywhere. This is something we would recommend that Scottish Widows look to rectify ASAP as this is a very valuable benefit and it would be a shame if client’s didn’t recognise (or more likely forget over time) that their protection policy is providing this for them.
The service is being offered to all clients taking out a new protection policy with Scottish Widows regardless of the type of plan and will be available from the day the policy is put in force regardless of whether a claim has been made or not. Scottish Widows are offering GP consultations to the life assured, their spouse/partner and children up to age 18. The maximum age for the children of the life assured is at the low end compared to British Friendly, Guardian and The Exeter who all offer the service to children up to the age 23.
Currently only Aviva apply a charge for use of their GP services at £36 per annum. Scottish Widows like all other insurers will not be applying a charge and will provide this to free to customers.
Whilst some insurers place limits on the number of appointments that can be made in a year, Scottish Widows are not placing any such restrictions.
In addition, the service will have the ability to provide referrals if required and fit notes. Both of these will incur a charge of £15. Repeat prescriptions can be delivered to the client’s door free of charge however, and as is the same for all virtual GP apps, prescriptions are private prescriptions and therefore the medication is likely to be more expensive than if obtained from an NHS GP.
Based on what is being offered, the new “Clinic in a Pocket” from Scottish Widows is one of the most comprehensive virtual GP services available in the protection market. It does, however fall down in one area.
The added value benefits market has become an integral part of protection plans in recent times. Insurers are now offering more and more preventative and curative support to clients and the success of these will invariably be down to how visible they are to clients. As mentioned previously, Scottish Widows’ Clinic in a Pocket is a standalone virtual GP app, however Scottish Widows also offer mental health support, Second Medical Opinion services, physiotherapy etc. Currently these are accessed via different destinations making it harder for clients to know what they have and as such less visible.
Other insurers have made the move to bring their various added value benefits into one app and we would encourage all insurers not just Scottish Widows to do the same. In doing this referrals between services become far easier and the client gets to see the full value they are being provided by their protection plan all in one place.
For those interested in providing their clients with virtual GP services as part of their protection recommendation, then “Clinic in a Pocket” is a fantastic proposition to complement the comprehensive products offered by Scottish Widows. Going forwards we would love to see more of Scottish Widows’ services brought together in one destination with more brand identity and referral capabilities.