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Do customers actually want mental health support from their life insurer?

Blog Research

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the topic of mental health has been increasingly discussed within the insurance industry. Life insurers want to support their customers, but this begs the question: do customers want support from their life insurer?

To answer this question, my colleague Will Trump and I recently ran a quick pulse check survey with an online panel of just over 200 UK adults. These are our main findings:

1.      Mental health: it’s a mixed picture!

When we asked individuals how their mental health has been affected by COVID just over half said that it had remained roughly the same. Maybe people are getting used to the circumstances that COVID has brought. Regardless, life post-COVID is very different to life pre-COVID. The fact that almost half of individuals are reporting no major differences to their mental health speaks to our resilience and willingness to adapt to difficult situations.

However, we must acknowledge that for some, mental health has worsened. We found that about 4 out 10 individuals said that their mental health has deteriorated with main drivers as loneliness, stress and anxiety.

Interestingly, 1 in 10 individuals told us that their mental health had actually got better since COVID. This was driven almost purely by people under the age of 44 – with 15% of this group saying their mental health has improved. So whilst home working and increased childcare or home schooling have undoubtedly been a burden for many, some people’s mental health has actually improved. In fact, the top reasons provided were: improved personal life and decreased work worries.

2.      Customers don’t intuitively view insurers as their go-to for mental health support – but they’re very receptive to the idea!

On the topic of mental health, our respondents said they would naturally seek support from friends and family, their GP, counselling sessions and even their gym. Only 4% of individuals picked their insurer as a means to receive mental health related support.

When asked what sort of insurance policy would provide this type of mental health support, 8 out of 10 respondents intuitively chose “health insurer” rather than life insurer.

But that’s not to say that life insurers have no role to play here. The good news is that people are not opposed to the idea of their life insurer stepping up to offer a mental health service. In fact, we asked current life insurance customers how they would react to being offered mental health support services from their life insurer – and around two thirds were very positive. One respondent said: “Great, if I needed to use it in the future I would” and another added “I would be pleasantly surprised, it’s a good idea”.

3.      So, what would a mental health service look like?

Taking a closer look of what this service should include, our results showed that therapy and counselling was selected by 48% of respondents, making it the top preference. This was even stronger for women (54%). This is not to say that preventative services, such as well-being activities and apps are not attractive – in fact they came in second place. Our view is that perhaps people are aware that they can access preventative services in many places, whereas counselling or therapy is difficult or expensive to access. 

One last point on wellbeing services – this was selected more by men (39%) than women (25%). The discrepancy in choice between therapy and well-being activities raises the continual question of stigma. Our results hint to the fact that stigma still exists and is influencing decisions when it comes to mental health. This raises the question, do insurers have a role in dissolving stigma related to seeking support for mental health?

What do you think? Should insurers develop services to support the mental health of their members? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

At iptiQ, we are actively talking to providers about a variety of mental health support services for our customers, and exploring ways to develop new insurance products that help customers with their mental health. If you’d like to find out more about how your brand could partner with iptiQ and join us on this discovery journey, do get in touch!