Preventative program supports employee mental health during COVID

Preventative program supports employee mental health during COVID

COVID has brought about significant and wide-reaching change in almost every aspect of human life. However, one area where we are yet to fully appreciate the cost is on our collective mental health. While we haven’t seen the full impact of long-term isolation or trauma on the Australian workforce, we do know it is coming.

Acknowledging this very issue, the Federal Government pumped an additional $500 million into suicide prevention and mental health support as part of their COVID-19 response.

Many employers have hotlines set up to deal with mental health issues as they arise. Mercer Marsh Benefits and Recovre have joined forces with Integrity to deliver a unique response to this unprecedented challenge.

Launching last November and continuing into June this year, an innovative and interactive pilot program has been created to support positive mental health in the workplace through a series of online workshops for employers. The aim is to support participants and give them the skills to navigate life in the context of challenges and pressures we haven’t seen in our lifetime. The hope is that these skills improve workplace culture, personal outcomes and prevent mental health issues escalating into more serious conditions.

David Fraser, Head of Group Life & Disability Insurance at Mercer Marsh Benefits, said: “The importance of health and wellbeing engagement, not only from a claims preventative perspective, but also allowing employers to engage and support their employees in uncertain times underpins the Mercer Marsh Benefits philosophy.”

Feedback from the initial delivery of the program has been very positive, both in terms of the program content and having access to such a program – something that is not always available to smaller enterprises.

The Employees health & wellbeing workshops for leaders.

The Integrity Life workplace wellbeing workshops are specifically designed for Integrity Life SME employers from various industries and sectors and of all sizes.  These workshops provide easier access to training and expert knowledge that are relevant for SME leaders and managers in employees’ wellbeing.  By supporting the leaders in their organisations with relevant and practical solutions, employers can create a healthy and productive workplace for the employees, no matter how small or large their organisation size is. 

People are the most valuable asset a company has, particularly in the current tight employment market. These workshops are designed to provide support and care for your employees, to help instill a culture of health and wellbeing that will not only get the maximum benefits for the company, but also importantly provide the information and guidance individuals need to live healthy lifestyles for themselves, family, and friends. 

Integrity Life

Integrity Life

From the newsroom

Why it matters to have a partner for life.

Why it matters to have a partner for life.

In business (as in life) things are a lot easier when you have the right partner. Because when you have the right partner, you’re supported to succeed together, whatever comes along. You may have seen us talking a bit about being a ‘partner for life’. But aside from being a bit cute, what do we actually mean?

We’re in this together.

Partnerships are about serving the interests of both parties to succeed together. We have seen across our industry, challenge after challenge, which has then been compounded by things like COVID-19. A partnership with Integrity means…

  1. We know our success depends on Advisers. So, we collaborate with Advisers and other partners on changes we intend to make. Whether that be to how we serve you or our products.
  2. If you ever have feedback for anyone in our organisation – from Product Managers and to Underwriters, to the CEO – we’ll get it to them, and you’ll get a response.
  3. We know that our role is more than supplying life insurance. We also need to champion the advised channels and stand strong on issues within our industry (like operational efficiency) – we’re pretty proud of our record on those fronts so far.

We’re here for the long-term.

We’re a fully regulated Life Insurance company, not just a reseller. This means we have the capital requirements of a life insurer and a genuine interest in ensuring clients are with us for the long term. Which means a focus on delivering on-going value to customers and maintaining a good reputation in the industry – particularly around claims.

We think it’s a job for Integrity Life.

A big part of why we exist is to build something better than was there before. We are committed to testing, building and innovating – ultimately to create a better customer experience.

Because we’re values driven, we believe there is a role for us in the industry to serve those who want to do things a bit differently and who, like us, believe we can change the game – for good!

And that’s why we think we’re the perfect ‘partner for life’.  

Integrity Life

Integrity Life

From the newsroom

How efficiency drives efficacy in Underwriting.

How efficiency drives efficacy in Underwriting.

Operational efficiency has always been the key focus for any professional services business, but where you also operate in a tough regulatory environment, it’s even more critical. However, not only do Risk Advisers face an increased cost of compliance (and seemingly endless change), they’re also seeing reduced income from commissions. And while compliance and commissions take up a lot of focus and airtime these two factors are somewhat immovable – as they are legislated.

So where can you get some of that margin back? Your major supplier is the first place to look.

I spoke at a professional development day recently and was asked to go back in time a bit and look at recent history in life insurance. For the ‘this is my first job’ demographic within the audience, I passed around a ‘memo’ from 1989 – a quaint, hand typed missive that would wander around inboxes back then… which were actually boxes that sat on your desk. Then came the fax machine. Then came email. Now we have portals and applications – that process work in real-time.

What is important to highlight here is not the history lesson itself, but to understand that with changes in technology there are changes in expectations, and life insurance has always been a people business, and an emotional one. What we do and what we say has implications for people’s lives and livelihood, so the time taken becomes a reflection of that importance. It was ok to call someone back a few days later, now a same day response is appropriate (ideally within a few hours).

At Integrity, we have embraced technology to the extent that is can speed up processes that don’t need my attention so that ultimately, I have more time to do the human stuff. Like speak to Advisers, provide considered decisions, facilitate their advice, understand their business, and clients.  

Underwriters, policy administrators, and even more importantly, claims managers – need to be efficient with the routine stuff – get it right every time – so they can concentrate on the less routine. But those less routine issues are the ones that really count in life insurance. The ability to consider and write a contract so a customer can take a risk and start or expand their business. The customer on claim, who could use a slightly longer chat with their claims manager, or adviser. To help them through that time.

And, you know what? More time spent talking about the needs of our customers, supported by great digital tools – might go some way to making this business fun again. Fun because we can engage more, riskies are fun people! And having done our job from sale to claim, we can also be satisfied we’ve met our noble purpose.

Scott Hodgson

Scott Hodgson

Chief Underwriter

Ideas to attract new buyers to advice and insurance.

Ideas to attract new buyers to advice and insurance.

This is excerpt from “The Fight for Future Markets Report. Attracting Millennials to advice and insurance”

In our report we suggest some ideas to help attract new business. For the full content and report you can download it here.

 

  1. Broaden the relevance of life insurance for those without kids by highlighting the benefits and need for TPD and Income Protection.

One of the biggest barriers to getting millennials on board with life insurance is their belief that it isn’t relevant to them. While many are interested in learning more about life policies and even open to purchasing them, there is a common perception that if you don’t have children, large debts or a spouse, then life insurance isn’t for you. Millennials without children need support in understanding that the range of life insurance on offer includes policies appropriate for their individual circumstances, and that there is a cost benefit in taking these out early. Make sure your value proposition stresses that life insurance can be and is relevant to young, single and childless Australians too.

  1. Consider experiments in low-cost advice as referrers (e.g. help them validate their research).

Millennials want premium advice, but the challenge is they’re not willing to pay for it. One way to bring forward the benefit and help them see how financial advice could assist them, is to help them dip their toe in the water through low-touch, low-cost interactions. Offering robo-advice, supplemented by a short in-person discussion to walk through the recommendations and make adjustments where necessary, could be a good way to start building a relationship and help embed yourself as a trusted partner who’s there for them – on their terms. Alternatively, you might consider the possibility of offering ‘validation consultations’, whereby young Australians with a desire to be independent and self-sufficient can independently compare policies and then come to you for questions or support before making the final decision themselves. Focus on the experience and encouraging reviews, not trying to lock them in for the long-term. They may be saying ‘no’ to the model, not the value.

  1. Project-based selling and financial coaching. 

While traditional full-service financial or risk advice may not be right for millennials right now, this doesn’t mean the door is closed altogether. You might choose to provide low-cost financial or risk ‘coaching’ to young clients who are simply interested in improving their financial literacy, and progress to fully-fledged advice and product recommendations as the client progresses through life stages. What if the initial focus was solely on coaching them to achieve their goals?

Fixed-cost packages with premiums and payouts tailored to life stage are an opportunity to offer transparent, simplified options for younger customers who are looking to get started with life insurance but aren’t ready to commit to a more complex decision-making processes.

 

Integrity Life

Integrity Life

From the newsroom

HIV and blood borne disease, what you need to know.

HIV and blood borne disease, what you need to know.

Advances in medicine have meant that people living with HIV (PLHIV) have a life expectancy that is approaching the same as the general population1. In fact, PLHIV who are taking and adhering to antiretroviral therapy (ART) cannot sexually transmit the virus to others2.

Furthermore, with increased education and the introduction of the drug Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), HIV in Australia continues to decline3. Despite the facts, there is still a lot of disproportionate fear in the community which often creates stigma against those with HIV. This can lead to further health issues for PLHIV as well as a reluctance to seek treatment, which further complicates eradicating the transmission of the disease4. Similarly, Hep C also elicits a response that hasn’t kept pace with medical treatments and advancements5.

Below are some common questions we get from Advisers and their clients with Integrity’s position based on the most current research and thinking.

Q: If a medical practitioner needs to be tested for HIV or Hep C, would they be eligible for Income Insurance benefits, as they would be unable to work for up to 6 months, right?

A: The window period for HIV is now 18-45 days with some very, very rare cases taking up to 6 months to show up, so it’s very unlikely they would need to be away from work for an extended period of time. Additionally, the current guidelines6 don’t require a medical practitioner to cease practicing while they are waiting on test results unless there is a very large chance that they know they were exposed to someone who is a carrier for an infectious virus.

For Hep C, a special kind of blood test called a nucleic acid test (NAT) that detects HCV RNA (also called a PCR test) can tell if a person is infected within 1–2 weeks of exposure7.  

 

Q: What if the medical practitioner was advised in an official capacity (by their employer or official Association) that they’re not permitted to work, would we pay a monthly benefit then?

A: Generally, yes. If a medical practitioner is compelled not to work in an official capacity, then we would consider paying a monthly Income Insurance benefit.

Q: If they do end up having HIV or HEP C, doesn’t this mean they won’t be able to work? And therefore, would we pay Income Insurance benefits?

A: Contracting HIV or Hep C in Australia in 2021 is not a death sentence. Medical practitioners living with HIV or Hep C are permitted to continue performing the duties of their usual occupation as long as they are under the care of another doctor and following the prescribed treatment and guidelines. Additionally, due to privacy legislation associations such as Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA) are not even allowed to ask if a person is HIV/Hep positive as all. Medical practitioners are required to follow universal precautions to prevent the transmission of HIV (regardless of their status).

HIV or AIDS?

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks cells that help the body fight infection, making a person more vulnerable to other infections and diseases. It is spread by contact with certain bodily fluids of a person with HIV, most commonly during unprotected sex (sex without a condom or HIV medicine to prevent or treat HIV), or through sharing injection drug equipment. If left untreated, HIV can lead to the disease AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The human body can’t get rid of HIV and no effective HIV cure exists. So, once you have HIV, you have it for life. However, by taking HIV medicine (called antiretroviral therapy or ART), people with HIV can live long and healthy lives and prevent transmitting HIV to their sexual partners. In addition, there are effective methods to prevent getting HIV through sex or drug use, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). First identified in 1981, HIV is the cause of one of humanity’s deadliest and most persistent epidemics.

AIDS is the late stage of HIV infection that occurs when the body’s immune system is badly damaged because of the virus. In [Australia], most people with HIV do not develop AIDS because taking HIV medicine every day as prescribed stops the progression of the disease. A person with HIV is considered to have progressed to AIDS when: the number of their CD4 cells falls below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood (200 cells/mm3). (In someone with a healthy immune system, CD4 counts are between 500 and 1,600 cells/mm3.) OR they develop one or more opportunistic infections regardless of their CD4 count. Without HIV medicine, people with AIDS typically survive about 3 years. Once someone has a dangerous opportunistic illness, life expectancy without treatment falls to about 1 year. HIV medicine can still help people at this stage of HIV infection, and it can even be lifesaving. But people who start ART soon after they get HIV experience more benefits—that’s why HIV testing is so important.” 8

References.

  1. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/science-clear-hiv-undetectable-equals-untransmittable
  2. https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-11-hiv-australia-declined-years.html
  3. https://napwha.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/HIV-and-Ageing-in-Australia-New-Frontier-April19.pdf
  4. https://www.acon.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/HIV-Stigma-Paper_v8.pdf
  5. https://www.healthline.com/health/hepatitis-c/can-it-be-cured
  6. https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-cdna-bloodborne.htm
  7. https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hcv/cfaq.htm

https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/about-hiv-and-aids/what-are-hiv-and-aids

    Integrity Life

    Integrity Life

    From the newsroom