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Mike Aldridge: The extras that make protection cover pay

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Most consumers today are as taken with the extras they can get with a purchase as they are with the main purchase itself: from free robots and toys when you buy from certain home insurance companies, to store points accrued to provide rewards when you reach certain thresholds.

Protection policies also come with “extras” but it is questionable whether people taking them out know they have them or indeed how valuable they could be. Not for one minute should we suggest people take out protection just to get the additional benefits but we could find that highlighting them to clients could be the difference between them buying or not.

For example, many providers such as Scottish Widows, Royal London and Aviva would allocate a policyholder their own personal nurse adviser at claim. The nurse adviser will tailor the support they give to each individual’s circumstances, which is a fantastic benefit. They can also arrange a second medical opinion, giving clients a comprehensive and independent assessment of their condition.

But there are other excellent services clients can make use of even if they have not made a claim. Take the practical help and advice on legal services, among others, available with Royal London, LV= and Zurich member lines. Friends Life, meanwhile, provides access to Bupa Healthline, which gives 24 hours a day, seven days a week access to trained nurses for medical assistance.

LV= and Royal London offer similar services, which, given the recent press surrounding NHS 111, could be invaluable. While the NHS service does have trained clinicians on hand, calls are not generally answered by a medical professional.

Elsewhere, certain groups like AIG and Friends Life provide services such as Best Doctors, which gives clients access to the world’s best when wanting a second opinion. Again, this does not have to be used only at claim or with a serious illness. It could be used to get a second opinion for a policyholder’s child who suffers from eczema, for example.

In a similar vein, a recent case saw a Royal London critical illness policyholder able to gain access to private physio sessions through the Helping Hand service as opposed to waiting on an NHS list.

Then, of course, there is Vitality, which leads in terms of the member rewards and discounts it offers. A policyholder actively participating in the member rewards scheme could find the policy is more than paid for in the discount offered just for the gym they join.

We need to ensure clients are aware of the practical benefits associated with protection policies and that they can get great value without having to make a claim. It is not just about paying into a policy for years knowing you will only benefit if the worst is to happen.

Demonstrating the benefits on offer to clients should help them understand the value of the policy. And if this means more people take cover along the way then all the better.

Mike Aldridge is innovation director at London & Country

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