Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Given the current situation with Coronavirus and recent government announcements, we wanted to let you know about our robust contingency plans which allow us to protect our service delivery and ensure staff safety as well as give you an update regarding our underwriting and claims approach.

Keeping our business running

The health and safety of our colleagues and customers is always our top priority and we’re following all safety advice and precautions as recommended by the government.

Working remotely

Following the government’s guidance to avoid all non-essential social contact and travel and where possible work from home, we’ve taken steps to align to this. We have advised all our staff who have the capability to do so to work from home. Many of our staff already work from home on a regular basis so our systems are enabled to facilitate this and are running smoothly. Our goal is to help minimise the spread of the virus by reducing contact as much as possible while ensuring we continue to operate sustainably and securely as a business.

We aim to minimise impact on our core business operations and we're working hard to continue to deliver the very best possible service to you and your clients. So far our service is holding up really well and we've maintained our service standards. We’ll continue to be contactable as normal through phone and email, and new business applications will continue to be processed. We have a fully signature-free online application process for new business and where possible we’ll use e-signatures for trusts and AMRAs.

Support for you

We’ve advised all our staff to limit non-essential travel in line with government guidance. But you’ll continue to receive the high quality of service you’re used to through your Royal London sales contact. They’ll be in touch with you over phone and email.

You can also contact your named case managers about any of your cases and will continue to have direct access to our underwriters.

Our third parties

We work with several third parties to provide our Helping Hand support service.

The nurse advisory service is provided by RedArc. We’re in regular contact with them and they’ve advised us that all their employees are now working from home with secure remote access to their systems. Due to the nature of this service, safeguarding of their employees and patients is a high priority and they’ve assured us that their processes have been adapted accordingly. Please note that RedArc can’t deal with any questions relating to Coronavirus as it’s a notifiable disease. Clients should contact the NHS 111 service if they have any concerns about this or are displaying symptoms.

Our legal service is provided by Epoq. Due to higher than normal levels of calls to the helpline, your clients might experience a delay in response of up to 24 hours.

Underwriting

We’ve introduced a new question to our application forms, data capture forms and declaration of health forms. This is so we can better establish and manage the insurance risks of Coronavirus.

This new question will establish if a customer has:

  • a new continuous cough and/or a high temperature
  • been advised to self-isolate
  • tested positive for Coronavirus
  • had direct contact with someone who’s been confirmed or suspected to have Coronavirus

If a customer has a history of any of these in the last month, we’ll postpone offering cover.

Customers should only answer that they’re self-isolating if:

  • medical staff have specifically advised them to do so
  • they've been advised to shield for 12 weeks due to being defined on medical grounds as being extremely vulnerable from Coronavirus
  • they're self-isolating due to symptoms they have or have tested positive for Coronavirus
  • they're following guidance due to being in direct contact with someone who has symptoms (household isolation)
  • they're following guidance having recently returned from an affected area

If they’re working from home or are following general advice to avoid social interactions, they should not consider themselves as self-isolating.

If they're the carer or family member of someone in an extremely vulnerable group and are shielding without having had personal advice to self-isolate (i.e. due to travel, symptoms or a positive test) then they don't have to answer that they're self-isolating.

You can find the list of the extremely vulnerable people on the government website.

We added the new question to our online applications on 17 March 2020 and we’ll be asking it for all paper applications and declarations of health received from this date.

We’ll continue to postpone offering cover to customers who tell us they’ve recently travelled to high-risk areas or have forthcoming travel to a high-risk area. However, we expect these disclosures to be limited by current government recommended travel restrictions.

Where we postpone cover due to symptoms, self-isolation advice, higher risk contact, or a positive test, this will be for a minimum of one month. The postponement period will last until the customer has had a negative Coronavirus test or the self-isolation period has passed, symptoms have fully resolved, and the customer no longer requires any treatment or follow-up.

We know that Coronavirus is currently placing strain on our NHS and we're experiencing delays in underwriting evidence being returned by GPs. Some surgeries have already confirmed they're delaying or not completing reports while they understandably focus on delivering primary care. This issue may continue and grow in the coming weeks. We're monitoring this and don't want to add pressure to this important service.

Meanwhile recent goverment advice regarding social distancing make face-to-face medical examinations inappropriate. Both our third party medical suppliers have confirmed they're postponing all examinations.

This will place additional pressure on our ability to gather medical evidence at underwriting stage. It will affect cases above our medical underwriting limits and therefore higher sums assured and/or older customers. It will also affect any case where your client tells us about a medical condition where the technical nature of the condition or lack of detail from the client means we need more information.

Where possible we’ll underwrite applications without information from GPs, which includes seeing if customers have any copies of medical reports. Unfortunately, there will be some cases where this isn’t possible and we may not be able to complete some applications until we have this information.

We’ll continue to monitor government and industry advice and revise our approach or our question set as appropriate.

Claims

We’ll consider any claims for Coronavirus against the terms and conditions of the customer’s plan and our usual claims philosophy.

As our minimum deferred period for Income Protection is four weeks, we don’t expect any claims for this cover from customers who’ve not been diagnosed with the virus itself.

For the majority of people who contract COVID-19, the symptoms will be short-lived and unlikely to trigger a payment for Income Protection. However, where the illness does extend beyond four weeks, we’ll consider a claim in line with the terms and conditions of the plan. There must be clear evidence that the customer hasn’t been able to work due to illness or injury and not the unavailability of work, which Income Protection isn’t designed to cover.

If a customer has been medically advised to self-isolate due to a pre-existing medical condition and it prevents them from working for longer than their deferred period, we’ll consider a claim in line with the terms and conditions of the plan. There must, like any other Income Protection claim, be a corresponding reduction in income.

Our plans don’t contain exclusions in relation to pandemics or the contraction of a virus in a foreign country.

We do restrict Critical Illness and Income Protection claims to certain parts of the world. This means if the person covered is living or working outside the UK we may need them to return to one of a list of specified countries for us to consider a claim. See our Plan Details for more information.

Our usual process for Income Protection claims is to get confirmation from the customer’s GP that they’re unable to work. If this confirmation isn’t available, for example if a customer has to self-isolate, our claims team will agree alternatives to ensure that we can pay claims quickly. Any customer who wants to discuss a claim can contact our claims team directly on 0345 6094 500.

Keeping you up-to-date

We’ll continue to follow updates and guidance from government and health officials. This is clearly an unprecedented situation with things changing daily. We’ll aim to keep you informed of any significant changes affecting our ongoing business operations if we need to adapt to changed circumstances.

This website is intended for financial advisers only and shouldn't be relied upon by any other person. If you are not an adviser please visit royallondon.com.

The Royal London Mutual Insurance Society Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. The firm is on the Financial Services Register, registration number 117672. It provides life assurance and pensions. Registered in England and Wales number 99064. Registered office: 55 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0RL.