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Written by Scott Cadger, Head of Claims and Underwriting Strategy, Scottish Widows.

Making insurance work for everyone during COVID-19

During what is an extremely challenging time for individuals and businesses across the UK, many more people are now considering how the current environment will affect their financial security, looking for clarity in what is a rapidly changing global situation.

As concerns grow around the impact of COVID-19 on all our daily lives, misconceptions on how it will affect people’s ability to access both taking out a new policy and making a claim on an existing policy are taking root. Therefore, it’s important that the industry can offer clear and reassuring advice to customers looking to protect themselves and their families during this time.

Here are some areas we are focusing on, to best serve customers during the outbreak:

Providing reassurance to existing customers
One of the biggest challenges for insurers is providing reassurance to existing customers that, as much as possible, it is business as usual and they are still there for them during this difficult time.

As many of us move to a new way of working at Scottish Widows we’re taking steps to make sure that we’re able to be there for our customers.

This includes equipping our colleagues with the technology they need to work from home, from laptops to secure systems which allow underwriters and claim assessors to access medical files remotely. It might sound simple, but it’s important that customers have confidence that their providers are still there and that secure channels are still available to them during this time.

Clarity on new insurance claims
One of the biggest misconceptions circulating is that insurance companies won’t be able to process and handle new insurance claims during the COVID-19 outbreak. Research carried out prior to the current crisis showed that over half of UK adults didn’t know how insurers made decisions. So now more than ever, it’s important that we are as transparent as possible in communicating time frames and processes for each and every case.

At Scottish Widows, we have a multi-channel approach to claims. We have been taking evidence from customers as a key information tool to support the early payment of claims for a number of years now, and the current crisis means that this will be more important than ever as we seek to avoid putting additional strain on our health services. Alongside a number of our peers, we are looking at how we utilise alternative forms of evidence, so we don’t add to the NHS strain, be it electronic reports or virtual screenings. We will only look to request a GP report once we have exhausted all other types of evidence, while being really clear to customers that we are doing all we can to pay claims just as quickly as before, so no need to pause or delay any notifications of claims.

To help our customers further, we have now added two new claim forms to our website to allow those who need to make a claim start the process online. This is vitally important to provide comfort to our customers that they can notify us of a claim even if the phone lines are busy or it is outside of normal working hours.

Remaining open for new business
A significant majority of new business customers will continue to get a decision when they apply for a policy. In line with the rest of the industry we are looking to minimise concern amongst new customers with a heightened risk of contracting COVID-19, for example the elderly or those with long-term health conditions. It’s important that these customers know that they are, as ever, able to apply in the normal way for protection insurance. Although 8 in 10 of our cases are determined automatically, many of our customers in higher risk groups will be reviewed personally by an underwriter assigned to their case, ensuring an accurate and personalised response. At Scottish Widows, our approach has always been that any case which cannot be automatically underwritten is viewed by an underwriter before we request any further evidence.

It’s important that insurers continue to be there to support their customers and offer peace of mind during these uncertain times. From ensuring that existing customers are confident their policies remain valid at a time when they may have a higher propensity to claim, through to reassuring new applicants that their claims will be reviewed with proper care and attention, there’s a big job to be done in reassuring the public that insurance is continuing to work for them.

We understand that this is a time of constant change. To keep up to date with the latest guidance and information, visit our dedicated Covid-19 Adviser hub now

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