A podcast from the Income Protection Task Force for advisers and insurers alike. On each episode we’ll be joined by a special guest who helps us get inside income protection, to build knowledge and provide training and sales tips – to help us all better communicate the benefits of IP. Hosted by Roy McLoughlin, co-chair of the Income Protection Task Force and Associate Director at Cavendish Ware.
In our first episode of Inside IP we’re joined by Steve Casey, Marketing Director at Square Health to talk about all things added value. By this we mean the additional benefits that are added to income protection policies that are becoming essential to consider when recommending the best overall value policy for clients.
Inside IP episode 1 – The value of added services with Roy McLoughlin and Steve Casey.
Hello and thanks for tuning in to the very first Inside IP podcast from the income protection Task Force. We wanted to launch this podcast now because it feels like a time when there’s a real need for some practical discussions around income protection, that focus on training, knowledge building, and obviously communication. So that’s what you can expect from us over the coming months.
On this episode we’re going to be talking about added benefits – the services that are attached to protection products and are available to clients regardless of whether they’ve made a claim. We mean things like health MOTs, GP consultations, second medical opinions, counselling, and a host of health and wellbeing services, which are really becoming essential when assessing which income protection products offer the best overall value for clients. So today, we’re really excited to kick things off by inviting Steve Casey, marketing director of Square Health and known to most of our listeners, I’m sure. For those of you who don’t know Steve, he’s been around the industry since 1842 and started off, I believe at Swiss re and has worked for several of the big insurers since, but it’s now at Square Health. So welcome Steve. How are you?
Good morning, Roy. I’m very good. Thank you very much for that sort of kind invitation.
Excellent. Steve, value added services add on services, ancillary services. What’s your preferred sort of terminology here?
That’s a good question, Roy. People call them value added services, additional benefits. I suppose it’s a bit like the name of the income protection. There’s no one specific name for the particular products or services that are available, but I mean, broadly they’re already services that are associated with the underlying insurance contract.
Brilliant. Seven Families is, as you know, just going through a sort of relaunch, and I’m very minded that when Seven Families came along, one of the things that perhaps those who designed it hadn’t quite realised was the impact of the additional services. And when we actually interviewed people like Tracy and the Pickfords and Nikki and Daniel, etc, it was very interesting how they kept going back and saying, look, the money was great. And, you know, just a reminder we paid seven families an income for a year. But what was as important as the money was the extra services that were provided for them were arguably more important. That’s probably a good place to start. What do you think the lessons are that we’ve learnt from some of the families in particular, vis a vis what the extra added services were?
Well, I, I think one of the key aspects about these added services, and whether that be the digital GP consultations, physiotherapy support, mental health, etc. I think the key element really is that these services are available during the lifetime of the policy. They’re not just associated with the claim. I think that’s a very, very important point because, so often, people just kind of forget that and you think things are just associated with a claim and don’t worry about it. These services are real, tangible. They should easily be accessible and be used at a time when suits the actual individuals concerned. So I think they’re extremely important.
Okay. And if you had an elevator pitch to give a very brief description of what the services were, let’s say one of our listeners was an IFA that, you know, had started advice on income protection, but was a little bit, you know, a little bit nervous about bringing this into the conversation. What’s the obvious first lines to introduce these subjects?
Well, I, I think in many regards, one thing to me is clear that, you should never underestimate the importance of the underlying insurance protection plan. I mean, that has to be set up properly. It has to be functioning as expected and to be a benefit. The client, and of course it’s got to be reviewed on a regular basis. The added value services could be seen as maybe being the icing on the cake, if you like, in terms of helping the protection planning, income protection plan, support the customer or the employee. If you look at the group aspects, when they need it most. The key thing for me is that they are available and they’re accessible and they are the two key elements really that I would promote when talking to an intermediary about these services.
Okay. So what you’re saying there is that is that obviously the main sail is still the core product. So it’s very important to bring across the, you know, the, the benefits of the core product initially and before anything else. But as part of that process, and remember, you know, we’re trying to help people with, we’re part of the sort of sales process here. At what stage would you start talking about the benefits and, any particular order that you would use?
I would bring them into the conversation once you feel comfortable that the client really understands the concept of income protection. And they are potentially a massive support they could receive their times of need. So I would bring it in once that has been made clear in terms of, a league table if you like or, or what I’ll talk about first. I mean, the, the most obvious one to me is probably digital GP consultations. Especially now at this moment in time when we’re in this current situation with the COVID 19 and what’s happening there. That to me is really the cornerstone of the services because at the end of the day, someone can access that consultation, talk with the GP, etc and then they can be signposted into a range of other services that might be available under the plans.
Okay. And yeah, as you say, this couldn’t be more apt than at the moment. So, again, you know, to the untrained listeners, could you just go into a bit more detail about what these services provide for in terms of GPs? How does it work? What’s the mechanics of it?
Yeah. I mean nowadays, I mean we live in an app world. I forget the figure of how many billion apps have been downloaded since they were actually launched. But what is happening in the market is that, uh, most of the providers are now offering a range of added value services that can be accessed by an app. So the simple process is that the client is invited to download the app, either an iOS or Google play depending on their operating system, they authenticate, and then they have access to these services. And it really is as simple as that. It’s a bit like booking an appointment in your calendar by your phone as exactly the same process you would be in terms of booking a GP consultation. Once that is all set up the customer should really receive a prompt reminder sort of 10 minutes beforehand. They’ve actually got the consultation and then literally they use the app to have that remote consultation. A bit like we are using this zoom session here in terms of having that consultation with the GP.
And these are all staffed by qualified nurses and GPS presumably.
Oh, absolutely. I mean the GPs providing this service have to be qualified, have to have a minimum number of years of working in the NHS before providing any services and most importantly have to be regulated, by something called the care quality commission or CQC. Now this is an independent body, that’s been set up to ensure that high standards are adhered to in the provision of what is known as primary care i.e. GP consultations. You can go onto their website and if you want a bit of fun, type in your own GP practice and see what their latest audit report is, because everybody who has the ability to provide primary care has to be audited. And that document is a public domain document for all to see.
So, one of the positive situations here is that this is obviously alleviating pressure on GPs, which is incredibly important at the moment. Have you got some, you know, some real life stories of where this has helped some particular customers in terms of the speed of the process?
Oh, absolutely, absolutely. I mean, a couple of things I would say. From our data, we’re still seeing circa 20% of GP consultations or contacts into our GP advisory lines that are still COVID related. And that, that’s fully understandable. and we’re providing the necessary clinical pathways and signposting for the, for the customer to, , as they go down the correct route. I mean, the latest stats were suggesting pre COVID that it took on average 13 days to actually see your own GP if you wanted to go along and it’s through the NHS practice. At the moment you can get a GP consultation on average within two to four hours of actually going on and making the consultations. So it’s, it’s a far quicker process and at a time that you can actually suit yourself,
Oh, so you can pick your own time slots?
Absolutely. Yes. You go on there and there’s the app and it will actually show you a complete range of available appointments, which you can then pick yourself. To use an example of someone who may be self employed, maybe a taxi driver and, and does shifts etc. They can book a consultation say at nine o’clock tonight, once they finish their taxi driving shift, and have the consultation at a time that suits them.
Oh, fantastic. And what does the, what’s the reaction of the medical profession to more and more of these? Is it being welcomed by GPs?
Oh, very much so. Very much so. The world of GPs is changing in some regards. And what I mean by that is, there’s far more GPs who look upon their career almost as a portfolio career. So they might do two or three days a week within a GP practice, they might do some local work, they might do charity work and they’ll both provide a certain number of hours each week for us. So it’s been extremely positive. On that actually, interestingly, one point that was made to us is how can we can still provide the service when the NHS is crying out for GPs and, and you know, GPs and nurses are going back to support the NHS in the current situation. The simple matter of the fact is that not all GPs are able to do that for a whole variety of reasons. They might be self isolating themselves. They might have vulnerable family members, etc. And they don’t feel that they’re able to actually support the NHS in that regard. But what they are able to do is work perhaps longer hours on digital services. Like ourselves and, and take some of the pressure off the NHS for non-COVID related issues.
Great. And I think for the IFAs listening, you know, that is a relatively easy sell to introduce because I think everyone would be agreed that, you know, the pressures of trying to, first of all get to your GP. But secondly, once you get there you tend to get what is it about four and a half minutes that you have and you know, you wander outside and, and think what was just said, did I cover everything, which takes us quite nicely into, do you want to talk to us about second opinion services as well?
Yeah, absolutely. Second opinion services have been around for a long time. I mean, I believe it was a Bupa health insurance who were the first company a long time ago to introduce them. But a second opinion is, I think, a fantastic service. And it was actually when I joined Bupa, it was a real light bulb moment for me in terms of understanding the value of the service. I mean let’s be clear, within the NHS, you’re fully entitled to have a second opinion. And you go on to the NHS website and it actually explains how you get a second opinion. But people sometimes don’t always want to challenge, perhaps, the medical profession or sometimes the shutters will come down once they’ve been given a primary diagnosis. Once you’ve been given a diagnosis, you could quite easily as I say, shut down.
You may hear things, but then you don’t hear things. You may see things, but you don’t really see them. Quite understandably your mind is working 110 miles an hour to understand the impact of what you’ve just been told, either on yourself, your family or friends or your work. But having a second medical opinion, you may be a little more rational in terms of wanting to find out more about the diagnosis. You might want to speak and actually see the whites of the eyes of the consultants, and start to ask the questions that you perhaps would have asked at the primary diagnosis if the shutters hadn’t come down. So second opinion is, great backstop product or service if you like, that people can use at the times when they really do need it.
Now I mentioned there’ll be some IFAs listening to this going, that’s great, but is this starting to, you know, cross to private medical insurance because we’re talking about all things medical. And I think it’s quite important to, you know, to, to almost draw that line in the sand that this isn’t. And actually, although we’re talking about some medical terms that people might not be familiar with, this is part of the services that’s added onto income protection policies. Where would people find out more about this information? What are the obvious places to go to glean more information so that you don’t feel like you’re becoming some sort of GP or giving that private medical insurance advice?
That’s a good question. And I think the added value services in terms of what’s available have extended and are a little bit ahead in terms of understanding where you can find out more information. Of course. I mean there are, there are providers such as ourselves, square health and others, various websites, etc. Ipipeline have started, looking at linking in, and understanding the services within the solution builder platform. So no longer are you just primarily looking at price, etc. For the, these sort of products. You have the ability to look at value add services in the market and be able to make a comparison. In addition, other comparison sites will be up and running. I think in the not too distant future, to actually show the value of value add services and also to help, intermediaries understand them. If I use the analogy of a car perhaps, if you look at two to blue BMWs from the front, you’d think they’d look exactly the same. You go around the back and one might say, is a two litre and one might Say it’s a three litre V6, etc. I want to try to say is with all these services, it’s always worth opening the bonnet and understanding what’s really driving them more than anything else. You know, we talked about the GP services. You know, there are some services in the market that offer eight minutes as a consultation and effectively you are cut off. We always like to say that realistically for a video GP consultation, you’re looking at something between 15 and 20 minutes because you’ve got to have the ability to sit down and talk with a client and understand. And that’s roughly double the time you’d get to see an NHS GP anyway.
Brilliant. So people should, you know, there’s lots of information out there. People need to go off and find out about it. Another subject I’d like to ask you about is, you know, the horrendous situation that we’ve got currently, Lots of industry speculators saying that as bad as the virus is actually the other problem that’s raising it’s ugly head is mental illness and all the ramifications of, of what’s going to come on, on the back of or included in, you know, people working at home, people losing jobs, people running into, financial stress, etc. etc. What do these added value services do in terms of that particular challenge?
Well, you’re absolutely spot on, Roy there. I mean, looking at the data, we saw a massive increase in GP consultations in March compared to February, for example. A massive increase in the number of contacts with the advisory line. And now we’re starting to see an increase in, in mental health consultation enquiries, etc. I again go back to the app etc etc. The ability to book a GP consultation. It shouldn’t be any different from the ability to book a counselling session via the app. The standardised process should be, make it very straightforward and we shouldn’t expect the customer to have to say maybe book a GP consultation via an app and then have to go elsewhere to book any other services.
We expect to see a, a big increase in the number of consultations that we will undertake. In mental health support in its widest sense. That is, that is inevitable as a, as a consequence of the situation we find ourselves in. I think also the additional approach to mental health support can be vital for a lot of people. And it’s not for everybody, let’s be honest. But you know, from again, the data and the stats that we see, the vast majority of people who start support, counselling sessions network, actually do, finish it and find it very useful.
And obviously I’d expect you to say there’s an obvious link in here to income protection. So to remind our listeners, the two biggest causes of absenteeism in the UK are stress and back issues. If we just stay on stress at the moment. Do you think this is one of those ironic situations, a big opportunity for income protection here in terms of the message that it sends?
Absolutely. I mean, you’re absolutely right. They’re the two biggest causes of claims, stress related and back issues. And you know, it’s a bit like a Venn diagram. A lot of it is actually interlinked, which is quite understandable. The utilisation of services, mental health support, etc. Can help the customer. As I said, during the lifetime of the policy, it doesn’t have be a claim. You know, one in four of us will suffer issues, mild, moderate, severe, call it what you want. These services can help people to get through the daily grind if you’d like at the moment. In terms of, uh, helping them just to very often just to talk to somebody.
So you’re in a room full of advisers and you’re training them. Okay. You know, again, our industry, we’re reminded about this on a daily basis. You know, selling what roughly a million life insurance policies, half a million critical illness policies, but you know, unfortunately only about 150,000 income protection policies. What are your views here to, to that room of IFAs as to why this should be adjusted? In particular, with these added value services, that are integrated into that product.
Well, I mean for something like that if you look at say a straight forward mortgage sale, are there lots of people tell me that they’re not that straightforward, but you stick straight forward life cover over the top of it. Absolutely fine. So if anything happens, the partner or the spouse, etc. they’ve got somewhere to live. But equally, you know, the probability of you spending time off work is considerably higher than lots of other instances. And as a consequence, you should really be protecting at least your outgoings, your mortgage, to protect your lifestyle. Using an income protection style plan. I mean, the key element more than anything else is if you are off work because of illness or sickness, how are you going to actually pay that mortgage amount? And that’s, that’s why I think that income protection style product, whether it’s a mortgage, outgoing or lifestyle protection, call it what you want. A product like that sitting alongside the overriding life cover should be absolutely fundamental.
And obviously the other subject that’s clearly in the news at the moment is that we all automatically defer to the, to the obvious mortgage sale. When statistically, you know, people are more likely to be renters than owners. Now, generation rent, which has been mentioned a lot during this particular crisis, why is income protection arguably as relevant to them as it is to homeowners?
Well the rent you pay each month is exactly the same in terms of it’s an outgoing that you would pay on a mortgage. And basically you’re paying the amount to have a roof over your head. Now, if you’re unable to again, to work and you’re renting, how are you going to pay that rent? What, is the landlord going to say? Is he going to give you a holiday? Yes or no? I don’t know. But if you haven’t got the ability to pay that rent, then he’s entitled to effectively say you’ve got to leave, leave the property. So it is, you know, what we say about mortgages and mortgage payments equally applies to the rental market. It’s a no brainer in many regards, but it’s great that you raise that because people do forget about the rental market.
EAP employee assistance programs have existed for years in the group market. But if you talk to some of the group insurers, the criticism is that the take-up rates are incredibly low. There’s something about added value benefit services on the individual market that reminds me of EAP services. If you see what I mean, what lessons can we learn from the, from the very low uptake of EAP. And how do we make sure that that doesn’t occur in the individual market? I think to be fair to group markets, EAP particularly in this crisis has suddenly, you know, become much more important. But what are the lessons we can learn from the low uptake of that?
Yes, it’s true. It’s true. I mean, EAP has been around for a long time, but I, I would probably use two words that the individual market could learn from the group market. The first is accessibility and the second is communication. Let me give you an example. An employee of a well-known national network negotiated that all the employees of that network had access to a second medical opinion, the deal was done and the paperwork was signed. And sometime later, that actually individual needed to utilise the service themselves for a shoulder problem. They checked the intranet and couldn’t find any information about the service. They checked with HR and they were told that they don’t have access to such a service and yet that individual on behalf of HR had negotiated the service.
And that’s part of the thing for me about communication. I think all too often in the past there’s been some great ideas and great support services available to employees. Also, often they might be told by desktop or something like that and then it’s forgotten. So that would be the first thing about communication. The second part is accessibility. Again, I don’t think it’s right and proper that an employee has to go to several different areas, sites, portals, call them what you want and to access a range of services. These should be again, available via something like an app where you have a truly joined up nature, a joined up journey that enables the various healthcare professionals to actually signpost to the other services as needed. So they’re the two key takeaways I would say.
Finally, Steve, before we let you go. you know, training is key here, I guess. You know, because of particularly the income protection sales that we’ve said, they’re on the up and there’s been some great increases in the last few years. Hopefully seven families has got something to do with that. Where do people go to for, for that extra training
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Training. There’s several areas that that I use. I have to do my own CPD for example. I do a variety of things such as the FT adviser CPD program. I think that that’s very, very good. I think, the training support is offered by the providers. I would absolutely tap into that. And if you look at say what Unum have done in launching their helping hand service for the employers. In terms of the brokers and their internal people, I think that’s been absolutely top notch. Um, I would naturally defer to people like the Income Protection Task Force for income protection if I, if I was looking for more support or better understanding. But I would, you know, at the end of the day, there’s no stupid question, just ask if you don’t know, ask and find out. Because at the end of the day, brokers, intermediaries, call them what you want are providing a very, very valuable service to the customer who sometimes doesn’t really understand or appreciate what they really need. And to have that knowledge and understanding beforehand is worth its weight in gold.
Steve, obviously this is, these are very sad times that we live in and I’m sure you know, there, hopefully not too much, but there’ll be some more sad stories come out of this. But you know, out of this as well comes opportunity. And there are, there are several people saying that this could be an opportunity for our industry to step up to the plate and actually, you know, improve the credibility of talking about protection, you know, because I guess it’s mentioned in most speeches that the government people come out with and it’s generally become a, you know, a, a subject. What is the opportunity once this whole mess is finished and what are the positives that we can take from income protection in particular, but added value benefits services, that we could take beyond, you know, the crisis that we currently are experiencing?
Well, I mean, the government have really, you could argue with the furlough program provided a group income protection scheme, to 65 million people. And you know, to do that, to show that they consider it of value to the individual and obviously to the economy, etc. That is a fantastic opportunity that we, in the selling of income protection can use as a springboard to discuss with clients. You know, this will live long in people’s memories. This really will. and the very fact that we can refer and say look, if the government were prepared to offer a scheme such as this, do you not think it’s a good idea? Do you not think it’s a benefit? So that is an absolutely a fantastic opportunity that is available at this moment in time.
In terms of the value add services. Again, I would say is there was perhaps some reticence and people were a little bit wary about using technology to talk to doctors etc. But the reality of it is, the last stats that I saw was that fewer than 9% of people are actually seeing a doctor physically face to face at this moment in time for an initial consultation. Because all the GPs, all the GP practices are closed. So that, you know, they’re doing a lot of work on the telephone, etc. Some of the more enlightened ones are trying to use video technology. But I think, again, I think this is absolutely a step change going forward in terms of people’s acceptance and, usability should we say of services. And the technology, you know, in five years time I would predict that almost everybody will have an initial video consultation with a GP before deciding which appropriate clinical pathway to go through. So again, I think that’s a fantastic opportunity for us at this moment in time.
Steve, thank you so much for that. That’s been incredibly useful and a great journey for added value services. Hopefully that’s been very useful for our listeners as well. If you want any more information, there is obviously the Income Protection Task Force, Seven Families campaign that we’ve referenced a few times, but as Steve alluded to, I would encourage all of our listeners to go and talk to their broker consultants, insurance companies and also again, talk to the second opinion services out there to glean more information. I do truly believe this is an opportunity for us to be talking about this subject more and it’s incredibly relevant at the moment. Thank you very much for listening again, Steve, thanks very much for your time and look forward to hearing from you guys very, very soon.