Insurers need to do more to support mental health issues brought on by COVID-19
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many employees in the UK continue to work from home during the pandemic and there can be mental health consequences. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has continued to raise the issue of remote-working staff’s mental health during this time, but insurers are penalising policyholders for flagging any related issues.
According to a poll conducted by GlobalData in 2020, 27% of respondents want to return to the office full-time, 46% would prefer a mix of home and office working, while the remaining 27% would like to permanently work from home. Despite 73% of office workers indicating a desire to return to the office, it is expected that a number of them will continue to work remotely for the rest of the year.
Prolonged working from home can have an increasing strain on an employee’s mental health, as the loneliness of working remotely can lead to depression. Insurers need to do more to provide greater assistance to an ongoing issue that was already prevalent in the UK before the COVID-19 outbreak. The HSE found that 12.8 million UK working days were lost in 2019 because of work-related stress, anxiety, and depression.
However, consumer campaign group Fairer Finance has found that insurers such as Budget, Virgin Money, Beagle Street, and Canada Life are actually increasing the cost of premiums for consumers that declare minor stress issues. The Telegraph has also found that consumers who have recovered from their mental health issues continue to face higher premiums.
Insurers require customers to disclose known medical conditions so they can provide an accurate quote for cover.
However, insurers need to adapt their policies in order to reflect the fluctuating risk environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as mental health is not typically covered in standard policies.
Chubb is one of the first insurers to try to meet this new change in demand for the market by launching Work from Home insurance for the Asia Pacific region, including cover for postural strains and injuries, mental health support, and disability payments for accidental slips.
With continuing uncertainty over remote working arrangements more insurers need to provide assistance and support for those struggling to cope.