Coronavirus: your individual protection questions answered

With the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19, more commonly known as Coronavirus, here you will find clarification around our service, claims and underwriting position. This page will be updated regularly with relevant changes and updates that may impact you and your customers.

Claims

What is your position on Life, Critical Illness and Income Protection policy claims in relation to COVID-19?

Death claims arising from the Coronavirus infection will be paid, subject to the usual policy terms and conditions.

Although the Coronavirus infection isn’t a covered condition on critical illness policies, if complications as a result of the virus lead to other criteria being met, (for example kidney failure, liver failure, heart failure or respiratory failure), the claim will be met subject to the terms and conditions of the specific policy.

Income Protection customers with the Coronavirus infection who are unable to work due to incapacity past the deferred period on their policy will be covered, subject to the terms and conditions of their policy.

In addition, we’ve made changes so your customer’s deferred period will start from the beginning of their 14-day self-isolation, should they be unable to work due to the symptoms of COVID-19. 

Your client’s income protection policy is designed to cover them in the event that their own ill health prevents them from working. Unfortunately, this doesn’t include any other reasons why they can’t carry out their occupation such as employer or government restrictions around self-isolating.

Throughout this period, we’re committed to supporting our customers within the terms of their policy and will look at each case individually to determine the best outcome for their circumstances.

How will you assess Critical Illness claims if there is a delay in receiving medical reports?

We have put in place a process involving evidence supplied from your client, our clinical team and Cancer Nurse Specialists, where applicable, to help us make as many claim payments as we can before medical information is received from consultants.

Underwriting

What changes have you made to your underwriting approach as a result of COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented levels of change across our society and we need to reflect the protection insurance challenges this has created.  We have therefore made some changes to our underwriting questions on applications for new customers.  We want to assure you that our claims philosophy is not changing, and we will continue to pay all valid claims. 

As part of our commitment to keep our underwriting approach relevant, we review our approach in relation to the market and adapt where appropriate.  

We made the following changes to our Underwriting approach from the 20th March:

  1. Adding in a new application question (see current question below)
  2. Reducing our non-medical limits for certain age groups
  3. Reducing the maximum online loading from our underwriting rules engine for customers with underlying medical conditions resulting in referral to our underwriting team. You may therefore experience a small reduction in our automation rates.

From 10th July, we ask the following Coronavirus question:

Have you ever been treated in hospital due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)?; or Within the last 30 days have you:

  • Experienced any of the following symptoms: a cough, breathing difficulties, a high temperature or fever, or a loss or change to your sense of taste or smell; or
  • Been diagnosed with Coronavirus (COVID-19); or
  • Self-isolated for any other reason, or had contact with someone who's been confirmed or suspected to have Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Any customer answering ‘yes’ to either question will be referred for manual assessment and each will be given individual consideration by Aviva’s team of experienced Underwriters.

These questions will mean that your clients do not need to disclose a historic COVID-19 diagnosis where symptoms have fully resolved or historic symptoms suggestive of COVID-19.

We continue to monitor the situation and if further changes are required these will be communicated in the normal way. It’s important your clients answer application questions fully.

We are assessing existing applications in line with the advice recently published by the NHS. The advice has provided a list of medical conditions which put someone at higher risk should they also contract COVID-19. As a result, there will be a small number of instances where we would previously have offered terms for these conditions with a high extra premium where we will now be postponing a decision on these cases until the pandemic is over.

From the 29th May for Income Protection and Living Costs Protection applicants, we ask if your client’s job and earnings have been affected by Coronavirus. They will have to tell us if they’ve been furloughed or receiving support from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. If your client has been affected then the application will be referred to manual underwriting and each case will be based on each client’s individual circumstances.

Have you added any exclusions to your policies?

At the moment we don’t have any exclusions for COVID-19 on any of our policies. We’ve introduced some new questions designed to help us provide access to insurance for customers but also take into account the risks the current situation brings. However, this is a changing situation that we’re closely monitoring so we may need to make changes for new clients in the future.

What if my customer needs a medical screening?

We have been working closely with our medical screening partners and resumed our face to face nurse screening and doctor medical examination services from 1st June for individual protection customers.

Our partners have implemented new protocols and procedures to meet the health and safety challenges of COVID-19 which include:

  • Training for staff on the latest guidelines
  • Pre-screening customers before booking appointments
  • Wearing of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Cleaning and disinfecting of equipment

Our partners will be in touch with new and pipeline applicants to book screenings where required. We will of course only go ahead and book an appointment with your client if they are happy to do so and have agreed to it.

For instances where medical screening can’t take place, we’ll review each case to see if acceptance terms can be offered on the information already received, or with alternative evidence such as a GPR. If terms still can’t be offered, your client’s application will remain in the pipeline until a medical screening can be arranged.

Are you requesting medical evidence?

Yes, we are requesting medical evidence as usual.

Can I still apply for IP or LCP if I’ve been furloughed by my employer or I am participating in any of the Government schemes linked to COVID-19?

There are a range of options – please speak to your Aviva contact to discuss individual circumstances.

New business

Can I still put new policies on risk?

Yes. We are continuing to transact business online through our ALPS platform. Straight through processing will take place as normal.

Are you still offering cover to health professionals?

We’re open for business for customers and we continue to offer cover to health professionals, prioritising applications from NHS workers.

How to contact us

What is the best way to get in touch?

We’ve invested in the technology to allow our people to work safely from home, ensuring we can continue to provide you and your clients with the high standards of service you’ve come to expect from us.

Our telephone lines are open providing support for our IFAs and customers between 8am - 6pm Monday – Friday, ensuring we can concentrate our resources to the times we know we’re needed most, in order to provide the best possible service.

Given we expect phone lines to be in high demand, we would ask you wherever possible to use our ALPS tracking service first to obtain updates on cases. For other queries:

General

What services do you offer regards COVID-19?

We believe the best approach to the current situation is to have a strong, consistent and joined-up approach nationally, which is the public health response. So we’d encourage all customers to follow government and NHS advice when it comes to Coronavirus. Our BUPA Nurse HealthLine are also following the Public Health England, WHO and NICE guidelines in relation to Coronavirus, so can share the relevant details as needed based on your client’s symptoms.

What measures do you have in place to make sure you can continue to operate during this period of uncertainty.

You can read more about this in our article, The impact of Coronavirus – our business resilience.

This is a changing situation which we continue to monitor and respond to so that we can keep providing you and your clients with the best possible service.

Do you offer premium deferrals for individual protection policies?

It’s more important than ever for customers to have the right protection and to maintain their chosen amount of cover – so it’s there in full to support them and their loved ones when they need it most.

To help our customers contend with the ongoing impact of the Coronavirus we are extending our premium deferral facility for our protection customers until the 31st October 2020 and updating our eligibility criteria.

Individual protection customers, who are struggling financially due to Coronavirus (COVID-19), can now defer premiums for 3 months and spread them over the following 9 months. This means customers with life insurance, critical illness, income protection, over 50s or whole of life policies can take a break from payments while retaining their current benefits and levels of cover. We are making this available to customers with personal or business individual protection policies.

Further details for advisers can be found here.

What else are you doing to support customers at this time?

During the COVID-19 crisis and the unprecedented demands on our health system, along with other Protection insurer members of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) we are offering support to all customers who may be affected by the impact of Coronavirus when making a claim on a life, critical illness, or income protection policy and reducing the burden on the National Health Service (NHS). This means we will;

  • Support the NHS: Avoid placing unnecessary burden on the National Health Service
  • Support those who need to make a claim:Do everything possible in these challenging circumstances to continue to process claims and support our customers.
  • Support vulnerable customers: we will continue to prioritise claims from vulnerable customers, being flexible in our approach where possible. 

Thank you for your continued support during these challenging times for all of us.