Having made it through a pandemic that many of us probably thought was going to be an enforced two week stay at home in March 2020, now is the time to take notice of what kind of financial protection we hold and should hold.
Undoubtedly the need for a regular income when significant illness strikes came to the forefront of our minds during those very tough times, and I was delighted when Zurich added Income Protection as an offering under our suite of protection products.
You’ll know as a Financial Broker, your client’s needs are at the centre of your approach to providing advice and support when it comes to personal protection, and arguably there is no better support than with an Income Protection plan. The sole purpose of this type of policy is to protect the insured when they are most financially vulnerable, when they are out of work due to illness or injury. Lengthy disability can be financially devastating; with increased outlays due to significant health care or convalescence needs; the need for assistance for serious disability; and an increased reliance on extended family or friends support network. State Benefit only provide a basic level of support and also worrying is the low level of emergency savings that people have – with the average at only €6,200 per household. And for those renting, the average is much lower.*
The peace of mind that comes from an Income Protection policy can alleviate additional stresses that illness and injury can bring, however no matter what level of cover provided there will always be a period of time where an individual is exhausting a waiting (deferred) period and may have limited financial support. It is during this waiting period that Zurich’s additional supports can be provided at no extra cost to the customer.
Early intervention can make all the difference to a claimant
Having worked with employers for a number of years on providing absence management assistance, Zurich created an Early Intervention Programme to provide support at the earliest of stage of absence. With the launch of our individual Income Protection plans, this established support has been seamlessly transferred to the personal income protection policy. Our experience has shown that the longer an individual remains away from the workplace, the more difficult it becomes to return.** The individual becomes de-conditioned, loses basic skills, loses confidence, all of which can be very difficult to overcome, especially with the financial impact that being out of work brings. Although many individuals want to return to work, in may become increasingly difficult to do so the longer they remain absent.
Our Early Intervention programme is designed to provide additional support to the insured at the earliest stages of commencing a period of sick leave or potential absence. We recommend that the insured contact a member of the Claims Team in Zurich to advise they are absent for work as early as two weeks into a period of absence and provide some general information on what has occurred. This is an important distinction – we do not need to wait for the deferred period to have elapsed for our early intervention programme to kick into gear.
We will refer the insured to our independent partner, Health Claims Bureau (HCB), who will provide the independent support of an accredited case manager allocated to their case. Using their unique expertise, the case manager can recommend additional supports that may aid recovery, and where appropriate, Zurich will fund these supports for the individual. Zurich and HCB treat all information gathered with the utmost sensitivity and confidentiality and are skilled in dealing with medical and psychological illnesses including work related conditions. Whilst every case is different, interventions may include one or more of the following:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cost of private Specialist review
While the insured is engaged in the programme, their case manager will monitor their progress with ‘catch up’ calls, providing further support and a listening ear which is particularly comforting as they experience a difficult time in their lives. Whilst this service does not replace the engagement of the insured’s own doctors its main objective is to help the insured recover from illness or injury and return to work at the earliest possible opportunity, thus reducing that financial vulnerability.
We have seen great success with Employers who have engaged in our early intervention programme with many of their employees feeling supported, cared for and ultimately return to work before the end of the waiting period or early into their claim.** Many personal Income Protection holders don’t have the engagement of an ‘employer’ and therefore this kind of support and care is even more essential.
Where early intervention is unsuccessful, the fact that the insured has notified Zurich at an early opportunity of absence from work, it is more likely the claim will be finalised before the waiting period is exhausted and the insured can commence receiving the financial support the policy provides.**
If you would like to know more about Zurich Life’s Early Intervention Programme or Zurich Life’s Income Protection offering as a whole, please contact your Zurich Broker Consultant or visit zurichbroker.ie.
*Source: CSO Household finance and consumption survey, 2018