Income protection policies that can help clients return to work sooner than they might have been able when ill or injured can have a positive impact, not only for the client, but also the insurer. Benefits such as rehabilitation services, career support and proportionate benefits all aim to help clients get back into the workplace. In doing so the client gains, as they can become independent quicker, and the insurer gains as they can either pay a reduced benefit or stop benefits altogether. This week, we look at which insurers are helping their policyholders get back to work quicker and who offers the best benefits. Not all insurers offer such benefits however, and where they are offered insurers provide varying levels of comprehensiveness.

Rehabilitation services aim to aid a client’s recovery when they have suffered a debilitating injury or illness. The types of treatments offered include:

Occupational therapy – 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.

Physiotherapy – Aims to restore movement and function when someone is affected by injury, illness or disability.

Complementary therapies – Remedies which are used alongside prescribed medical treatments to help people with severe illnesses or injuries feel better and improve quality of life.

Of the insurers that provide rehabilitation services, all give their clients access to these however, there are other aspects that differentiate the propositions available in the market.

One example of this is when a client can access the services. Some providers offer rehabilitation services at any point in the policy’s lifespan, whilst the others restrict access to the point of claim.

Offering the benefit at any point of the policy’s 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. The other main difference between insurers is how much they are willing to pay towards rehabilitation services. Most providers do not have a limit to rehabilitation services with the exceptions of LV=, Vitality and Zurich. If the injury or illness the client has sustained means that – even after rehabilitation – the client is unable to return to their previous occupation but is able to work, finding an alternative career path to take can be daunting. To help claimants, some providers offer career support services. These aim to help clients get back into the workplace by offering job market research, CV writing and interview preparation services. The graph below shows how career support can be accessed from different insurers:
Like rehabilitation services, the costs for obtaining the best career support services may not be cheap. It is therefore preferable if the insurer is willing to cover the full costs of the services used, notably AIG, Aviva, Holloway Friendly, LV=, Royal London and Zurich provide no such restriction, which is attractive. Whilst both rehabilitation benefit and career support services are designed to help the client in returning to work, in some cases the client’s injury or illness may prevent them from being able to earn the same amount as they did pre-incapacity. This may be due to them only being able to return to work on a part time basis initially or maybe even not being able to return to their previous line of work and taking a lower paying role in a different occupation. In such cases insurers will pay a reduced ‘proportionate’ benefit. The reduced benefit will largely be calculated based on the percentage decrease in the client’s salary when compared to their pre-incapacity earnings. As such the insurer will continue to pay a lesser amount of income in line with the decrease in earnings compared to pre-incapacity. The benefit will decrease as the client’s earnings increase and cease altogether when their earnings align with their pre-incapacity earnings. Most insurers do not specify a limit on the period over which a proportionate benefit will be paid whilst some do place a cap. For the Aviva Living Costs plan this cap is one month, for all versions of the Holloway plans it is capped at 12 months. All other insurers place no time limit on the amount of time they will pay proportionate benefits for. If a client has been incapacitated for a long period of time before returning to work in a reduced role or occupation where they earn less, the chances are that inflation will have eroded the actual buying power of their income. To combat this, some providers, when calculating the proportionate benefit, will take into account the increases in RPI from the start of incapacity to the client’s return to some form of work.

Income protection is a plan that helps a client continue to support their family in the event that they are unable to work due to ill health. Providing the support to help that client back into work and therefore be independently able to support their family for many will be as, if not more, important than the financial assistance. Such services as described in this insight are specifically designed for this purpose and it is a great compliment to the industry that such services are now offered as standard across most plans.

Overall, AIG, Aviva, LV= and Royal London are particularly strong in this area. LV= and Royal London both offer rehabilitation services at any point in the term of the contract, whilst AIG, Aviva and LV= all offer a range of ways to access career support services. All four insurers take inflation into account when calculating proportionate benefits.

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