Lack of awareness of support leaves many with health and money worries nowhere to turn

Published  20 February 2023
   3 min read
  • Research among Royal London’s customers shows 88% have experienced events that negatively impacted their health, wellbeing and finances since the pandemic started
  • Issues include dealing with mental health challenges (57%), illness or injury (49%), money worries (35%) and death of a loved one (32%)
  • Three-quarters (77%) of customers felt they needed more support during challenging periods in the last 3 years
  • Only 16% of customers with a protection policy know that their policy has some additional support services or benefits attached to it which they can utilise

The last three years have taken their toll on the physical, financial and mental health of UK adults as they faced an array of life challenges. Research carried out by mutual insurer Royal London showed that 9 in 10 (88%) customers have had to deal with issues like poor mental health, affecting either themselves or a loved one (57%), physical illness or injury (49%), or the death of a loved one (32%).

Significantly, three quarters (77%) felt ill-equipped to deal with challenges alone and were in dire need of additional practical and emotional support. This led to many muddling through as best they could themselves or leaning extensively on friends and family. Of those who got help, only 9% of them got it from a professional, either from doctors or through counselling.

Many people are struggling to access the help they need, either because of NHS waiting times or services that simply can’t meet the demand, but in other instances it’s a worryingly low awareness of other sources of help. Just 16% of people with protection policies, from a range of providers, are familiar with the additional support services they can benefit from. It’s not just restricted to the policyholder, some providers extend the services out to the partner and children of the person covered or allow clients to access these services without needing to make a claim.

Jennifer Gilchrist, Protection Specialist, Royal London, says:         

“The pandemic has had a profound impact on people’s health, wellbeing and finances. The scale of the problem is striking, with one in nine having faced significant life events. And the vast majority of them have had to deal with the issues alone. It’s also concerning that many, who have added value support that comes with their financial protection policy, were unaware of the support options that are available to them.

“The ‘awareness gap’ should be on providers’ and advisers’ radars already, but the advent of Consumer Duty will require even more promotion to heighten awareness among consumers and customers.

“More than ever this year affordability will be an issue. Pressure on people’s finances will have many questioning the value of protection policies as they look to cut costs. Providers and advisers need to be more vocal in promoting protection policies and the additional benefits, which many are clearly in need of, but oblivious to. The message for 2023 needs to be, protection policies offer help when it’s needed most, but that help comes in the form of more than just financial support.”

Emma Astley, founder of Lancashire-based Cover My Bubble, is enthusiastic about the benefits that value added services provide clients having seen first-hand the value that they bring:

“The value of a protection policy is often seen as just financial support through difficult times, and while it does exactly that, I’ve seen countless examples where accessing added value support services has been a real life saver for the client or their children.

“In the current climate, we’ve all either heard of cases or experienced first-hand having to wait for help from the NHS, which can be agonising when your family are unwell. Receiving help from your protection policy can deliver a more immediate solution, and also helps to ease the pressure on our NHS.

“In one example, a client who was waiting on a 111 call back, arranged a GP video appointment through her protection provider and was able to be seen, prescribed medicine and pick it up from her pharmacy, before she even received the 111 call back. This type of example shows how invaluable added value services are, reducing anxiety and worry and providing reassurance in difficult times.”

For further information please contact:

Neil Cameron, PR Manager

Notes to editor

Research was carried out online in November 2022, with 250 Royal London customers via the mutual’s ThinkCustomer panel (including 129 customers that hold a protection policy with Royal London or another provider).

The concept of Royal London’s additional support service, Helping Hand, was based on the recognition that when people need help, it’s more than just a cheque that’s required to help them get back on their feet.

The service, available on intermediary products, gives emotional and practical help to maintain health and also support recovery for people with more serious illness. Helping Hand is all about holistic support, covering all the person’s illnesses and/or conditions providing support unique to them, their circumstances, and their family.

About Royal London

Royal London is the largest mutual life, pensions and investment company in the UK, with assets under management of £147 billion, 8.7 million policies in force and 4,232 employees. Figures quoted are as at 31 December 2022. 

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