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Helen Dick


Written by Helen Dick, Senior Manager Underwriting and Claims Strategy, Scottish Widows


Mental health continues to be a topic at the forefront of many industry articles and conference presentations. This isn’t surprising given 1 in 6 people in England report a common mental health problem each week [1].

At Scottish Widows we are proud to say that 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.

We’ve listened to our customers, mental health experts and charities and we are committed to continually improving the experience for customers with a history of mental health issues.

Working in partnership

As part of Lloyds Banking Group, we are proud of our partnership with Mental Health UK. Lloyds Banking Group has recently announced that the partnership will continue until the end of 2021. Since the start of the partnership in 2017 we have been working to promote awareness of mental health and foster an environment where colleagues and customers can open up about this important issue. The £10 million raised to date has made a difference by:

  • Helping over 1,500 customers with complex needs through one to one support provided by the Mental Health and Money Advice Service
  • Designing and launching Bloom, a programme to help young people in schools build their resilience for now and the future
  • Better supporting colleagues, with over 33,000 line managers having completed mental health training

Looking to the future

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 our partnership and from customers we are firmly focused on making improvements to how we interact with customers.

One of the key areas we are reviewing is the language used in all our customer interactions. By using language that is accessible, easy to understand and not open to interpretation we are looking to simplify the customer journey.

Scottish Widows Care is provided in partnership with RedArc, an independent organisation which helps individuals and their families through serious illness and chronic health conditions. Through consultation with RedArc nurse advisers we found that allowing customers to freely tell their story is very important. Our longstanding partnership with RedArc provided invaluable feedback on how we can improve the questions we ask customers.

Finally our research has highlighted that customers’ value transparency - a clear explanation on our underwriting decisions and why we need customers to share their personal sensitive information to allow us to accurately assess risks. We aim to demonstrate fairness in our underwriting decisions and throughout the customer journey.

Mental health is an important issue and very much deserves the recent media attention. Mental and physical health should have equal prominence and that’s why we are continually improving our processes to support our customers throughout their journey. We look forward to sharing our future changes and their results with you in 2020.

Find out more about how we are focusing on you and your clients -

[1] McManus S, Bebbington P, Jenkins R, Brugha T. (eds.) (2016). Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult psychiatric morbidity survey 2014. Leeds: NHS digital.

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