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Written by Gary Burchett, Protection Director, Scottish Widows.


When my outlook for 2020 was published at the start of the year, who would have known there would be such a dramatic turn of events. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has touched everyone, sadly with more of an impact for some than others.

It’s fair to say that the last few months have been challenging, but difficult times require an extraordinary effort to rise to that challenge and I am very proud of my Scottish Widows colleagues and the exceptional response they have collectively delivered so that we could continue to support advisers and customers by:

  • Equipping 300 front line protection colleagues with laptops and equipment to work from home and provide you with the servicing support you need.
  • Launching a Covid-19 dedicated area on our website providing customers and advisers with key updates and signposting to further support.
  • Setting up a Protection key workers mailbox for priority servicing/queries.
  • Developing our Underwriting Philosophy to maintain access to insurance for the majority of customers, such as making underwriting changes to help customers through Covid-19 and carefully assessing those with high risk conditions known to be impacted by Covid-19 to offer terms wherever possible.
  • Introducing online Protection claim forms to ensure customers could continue to register their claim at a time of unprecedented demand.
  • Helping vulnerable customers and those in financial difficulty by:
    • providing an advance payment to critical illness, total permanent disability and terminal illness claimants
    • giving up to £10,000 funeral pledge to beneficiaries or funeral home
    • introducing the ability to accept birth, marriage and death certificates digitally to speed up payments.

Our claims team has coped admirably with the Covid-19 situation whilst continuing to maintain service and response times for all customers. We’ve paid out over £3.3m in Covid-19 related life claims to 652 customers1. Although many of these claims are lesser whole of life claims we are helping families with financial support at a very difficult and emotional time.


Doing the right thing for our customers
Although many colleagues continue to work from home, our protection focus hasn’t faltered. More so than ever, people need protection and it’s a sad fact that Scottish Widows research shows that only 23% of people have life insurance and 6% have critical illness cover2.

The focus for the remainder of 2020 will be to continue to do the right thing for our customers. It’s brilliant news that we’ve been rated in the top 3 highest performing Protection providers for operational capabilities by Protection Guru. We’ve also been shortlisted in four categories for the 2020 Cover Excellence Awards.3

We are also very proud to win a Fairer Finance Gold Ribbon award4 in their latest life insurance customer experience ratings, proving that our protection products and services are up there with the best and advisers can be confident when recommending our products to their clients.

It’s very rewarding when someone as influential as James Daley from Fairer Finance has the following to say about our products “This is … the first adviser critical illness policy to receive our Clear & Simple Mark for its policy document. The team at Scottish Widows have had a real commitment to simplicity and transparency with this product – which has been really encouraging.”

Continue working with our Charity Partners
Covid-19 has shown the importance of signposting to extra support for customers both financially and emotionally, something we will continue to do working with Macmillan Cancer Support, Turn2us and Mental Health UK. Johnny Timpson recently joined the panel for the Mental Health and Insurance Report Webinar as they discuss the challenges people living with mental health face when applying for insurance, and what would make the process easier and better for all parties. You can read the report here.

In summary, I am immensely proud of the vital service that we give to customers in uncertain times and am thankful for the support you give your clients.

We are continuing to monitor the situation carefully and will adjust and adapt our protection business to respond to the changing environment and our customers’ needs.

The focus for Scottish Widows for the remainder of 2020 will be to continue to do the right thing for our customers, ensuring you can have confidence and pride when recommending our products and services to your clients.


1Scottish Widows claims data, 2020

2Scottish Widows Research, 2019

3Protection Guru, 2020

3Cover magazine, 2020

4Fairer Finance, 2020

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