The loss of ability to earn due to injury or illness can have devastating effects, not only on immediate income but also potential future income. A sustained period of absence could mean that a client may need to upskill quickly in order to catch up with the developments in their industry to return to the level they were at pre-incapacity. This, along with the emotional impact of incapacity on the client and their family, means that where possible it is vital that insurers do everything they can to help clients back to work. Within this article we take a deeper dive into the Rehabilitation Services insurers offer for personal protection.

Rehabilitation Services aim to aid a client’s recovery when they have suffered a debilitating injury or illness. In 2018, Legal & General believe around two thirds of their Rehabilitation Service claimants who retuned to work, were able to do so during their group Income Protection policies deferred period. Meaning they were able to return to work quicker without having to claim on the policy.

There are a number of services available to cover a range of treatments which include mental health. The types of services offered vary between insurer. Some of the types of treatment include:

Occupational therapy
This provides an assessment and treatment to develop, recover, or maintain the daily living and work skills of people with a physical, mental, or cognitive disorder. Much of the focus is around identifying and eliminating environmental barriers to independence and participation in daily activities.

Physiotherapy
Physiotherapy aims to restore movement and function when someone is affected by injury, illness or disability. It is designed to help treat physical problems linked to a number of the body’s systems, including:

  • musculoskeletal – bones, joints and soft tissues
  • neuromuscular – the brain and nervous system
  • cardiovascular – the heart and blood circulation
  • respiratory – the organs that help you breathe

Complementary therapies
Complementary therapies are used alongside conventional medical treatments prescribed by doctors. They can help people with severe illnesses or injuries to feel better and may improve quality of life. They may also help clients to cope better with symptoms caused by their injury or illness, or side effects caused by their treatment.

Historically, rehabilitation services have been offered through income protection plans. In recent times however, a number of insurers have looked to extend this offering into their Critical Illness propositions and with some providers, across all their products.

In most cases, insurers offer these rehabilitation services either In-house or through third-party providers. There is no hard and fast rule as to whether an in house or third party is more advantageous as they both have their own benefits. Rehabilitation services provided in-house will be closely linked to the insurers claims team and therefore may be able to react more quickly to cases requiring these services. On the other hand, third-party providers may offer a wider range of options and allow you to work directly with specialists in specific fields that might not be available in house. Below we highlight which insurers have an in-house service and those that offer access to third party services.

*Aegon will provide an appropriate service for the client according to their needs and availability.
**AIG’s rehabilitation service is bespoked to each client – they do not use any one specific service provider. 

Whilst many providers offer rehabilitation services, it is worth noting that such services are provided at the insurer’s discretion and may not be offered to every client. Those that will benefit from rehabilitation will be offered it, however if it is unlikely to be of any benefit due to the severity or type of injury/illness an insurer may look for alternative ways they can help such clients.  

When can rehabilitation services be accessed?
The point at which rehabilitation is offered can have a massive impact on recovery. Offering the benefit at any point of the policy lifespan will mean clients that are suffering from an injury or illness – that might not be severe enough for a claim – would still be able to benefit. This in turn could help ensure that the condition does not progress to a point where they need to make a claim and, as such, be used as a preventative benefit as well as an aid to recovery.

How much will the insurer pay towards the cost of rehabilitation services?
If not provided by the NHS, rehabilitation services are not cheap – especially if a prolonged period of rehab is required. Insurers differ in how much they are willing to pay towards these, which should be a key consideration when comparing the services offered.

*AIG also offer a recuperation benefit which can be used to pay for services that could improve or maintain a client’s health and help them back to work. If incapacitated a client could receive up to three times their benefit amount to pay for services such as physiotherapy or counselling.
**Scottish Widows may review this amount if a client is likely to exceed it.
*** Vitality’s limit depends on whether a member has Short Term (Maximum of £1,000), Primary (Maximum of £1,000) or Comprehensive (Maximum of £2,000) Income Protection. The amount is fixed when they set up their plan.

Protection plans have moved on from just providing financial security, to contracts that can also help deal with the financial, emotional and physical issues clients face when seriously ill. Added value benefits such as rehabilitation services can be just as beneficial to clients as the financial security policies provide. Not only can it give clients their independence back, but it can also help keep their careers on track and relieve pressure on their family.

Through a combination of offering rehabilitation at any point in the term of the contract and providing an in-house team that should be able to react quicker, Zurich seem to have a very strong proposition. LV=, Royal London and Scottish Widows should also be commended as they offer Rehabilitation Services over a wide variety of products at any point in the contract term.

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