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Gary Burchett


Written by Gary Burchett, Protection Director, Scottish Widows.


In 2020 the focus for Scottish Widows will be to continue to do the right thing for our customers, ensuring advisers can have confidence and pride when recommending our products and services to their clients.

I strongly believe that delivering financial resilience via protection products is one of the key drivers in improving the overall financial health of individuals and society generally. We are beginning to understand the strong inter-dependencies between financial confidence, physical and mental health and developing this resilience is part of our Helping Britain Prosper purpose.

It’s a staggering number, but up to 6 million people each year suffer a life event that causes a sudden loss of income, and many others experience events that cause a sudden rise in their outgoings.* These life events are caused by a variety of things, from ill health to the death of a partner. It’s not only the individual who is impacted, but their families, friends, their employers and even their landlord.

In our industry we often see the impact of these severe life events which can dramatically affect the wellbeing and mental health of the individual and their families. Having the right protection in place can help some way towards softening the stress of such events.

At Scottish Widows our philosophy is simple, we are here to fulfil the promise we make to customers at application stage and support our customers when they need us most‒ at the point they need to claim. Hearing about cases that our claims teams deal with on a daily basis is both emotional and uplifting and it serves as a constant reminder of the significant importance of the work we do and the difference we can make.

I'm very proud of our claims statistics but we’re always working to do everything we can to help you make the process as quick, transparent and as simple as possible:

  • Each claimant receives an individual case manager, meaning it’s the same person who deals with their claim from start to finish.
  • We complete claims forms over the phone on the day of the claim, removing any pressure from the customer to manually complete it, meaning we can start acting on the claim straightaway.

In the past year we’ve worked hard to help to make advisers more efficient, making it simpler for you to protect customers and their families:

  • We’re working more efficiently to deliver enhancements to our products and service offering. We’ve grown our team by increasing the number of Regional Protection Managers and the Number of Telephone Account Managers. We want to deliver a noticeable improvement in the frequency and quality of service we’re able to offer you.
  • We have delivered enhancements to our online adviser dashboard in 2019. This allows you to see underwriting decisions and outstanding actions regarding our Scottish Widows Protect (SWP) applications; making it easier for advisers to manage their pipeline of applications, both online and without calling our operations team.
  • We have deployed additional Electronic document & Post Underwriting Flex functionality, allowing you to access key documents for your customer and giving you much greater flexibility to amend customer quotes prior to their final agreement, leading to an improved service, and a reduction in the volume of unnecessary paperwork.

Our Charity Partnerships

Wellbeing and working with charity partnerships is a real strength of Scottish Widows and it gives us great insight into the challenges faced by our customers and how we can work together to address these.

Having a partnership with Macmillan is beneficial as it enables us to understand and support our customers better. Especially since 61% of our critical illness claims are related to cancer. According to Macmillan, 4 out of 5 people with cancer will on average be £570 per month worse off as a result of their diagnosis.** This increase is often caused by a combination of reduced income (as many people need to stop working during treatment); increased costs because of the illness such as travel and parking charges when attending treatment sessions; and increased heating costs at home.

Our partnership with Mental Health UK puts us in a unique position to really understand the issues facing customers when applying for protection cover and how to make their application journey as smooth as possible. By gaining valuable feedback from Mental Health UK we are firmly focused on making improvements to how we interact with customers. It’s very pleasing to me that, at Scottish Widows we offer cover to 95% of customers who disclose a mental health condition, and of those, 78% will be accepted at standard rates for life cover.

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

As a 5 star Defaqto provider with a commitment to Helping Britain Prosper, we’ll be investing in our suite of products, bringing new opportunities and support to the market and building more effective relationships. My ambition for 2020 is that by continuing to improve our products and overall proposition we will provide more customers with the cover that they need. I am confident that by working together we can deliver on that ambition.

* Managing Households Financial Resilience 2019

** Macmillan Cancer Support: Cancer’s Hidden Price Tag Report 2013

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