Employee speaking to a consultant

Early notification of claims reaps rewards for both employers and employees

At Unum we’ve always been focused on supporting employers to create and maintain a healthy workplace. Our expert-led Rehabilitation team makes a real difference to unwell employees — helping people get better faster and stay in work longer.

We know that our added-value support services, such as absence management training, Wellbeing Checks and vocational rehabilitation can reduce the risk of distress to individuals and upheaval to businesses. And we know that the earlier we are informed of any issues, the more likely we are to be able to help. We rely on employees and employers reaching out to us for support, so early notification is key to providing the best possible outcomes for everyone.

Ongoing challenges which could hold up a claim

Since the pandemic the reduction in routine medical screening has inevitably led to some conditions, such as cancer, being identified later than would usually have been the case. The NHS is battling hard to deal with the backlog but, together with the decline in the number of GPs, some employees are still finding it hard to get the medical intervention and support they need. And, as an insurer, we’re seeing a delay in obtaining medical evidence to support claims. And when it comes to making a claim, there’s often a delay in obtaining medical evidence too. 

Hybrid working has been welcomed by many, but lack of face-to-face contact can potentially mask signs that an employee is struggling. Without regular check-ins it’s easy for someone to slip under the radar, and people could be struggling in a remote environment in ways that employers wouldn’t previously have imagined. Perhaps musculoskeletal issues, due to an unsuitable desk, or a disruption to their work/life balance causing mental health issues.

Employers, and HR professionals in particular, are also facing increased pressure to perform. Changes to the working environment and accommodating and administering differing working policies have all added to the workload. Contacting an insurer to advise that an employee is showing signs of stress, or signed off work, might understandably come further down the priorities list.

Why is early notification so important?

Group Income Protection (GIP) is a great way to provide financial protection when there is no option other than an ill or injured employee taking time off work. But keeping someone well enough to stay in work is usually the best solution for both the employee and the business. 

Our data shows that someone referred to our rehab team during the policy’s deferred period (before payments are payable on a claim) is likely to get better, and more likely to be able to go back to work before a claim needs to be made. Late notification, and the subsequent delay in treatment, may actually be detrimental to an employee’s health.

It’s also important to remember that if claims are notified after the commencement date of the claim (the date claims payments start), employees can be without sick pay when they most need it. With the current cost of living crisis, it’s especially important to ensure people have the financial support they need as soon as they need it.

For the employer, early notification can ease difficulties caused by absent staff, such as business disruption and increased pressure on remaining workers.

What can Unum do to help?

Access to our rehabilitation support is available whenever it’s needed. If an employee is having problems coping at work or from day one of absence, we can suggest strategies to help. If you’re unsure whether it’s right to make a referral, simply give us a call. We can talk through any issues and help you signpost employees to the resources already available to them. These include the suite of medical and lifestyle services and the employee assistance programme available through our health and wellbeing app Help@hand.* And we can discuss the next available steps, which might include:

Wellbeing Checks

1-2-1 appointments with a health professional, examining all aspects of an employee’s wellbeing — mental, physical, social and financial. Designed to help employees make realistic lifestyle changes, hopefully improving their performance, mood, energy and productivity.

On Course workshops

Line manager training to empower, upskill and support attendees to confidently spot early signs of illness in their team. Staff training sessions not just to prevent absence, also helping attendees to confidently address and improve their own wellbeing. 

Workplace Health and Wellbeing Reviews

An analysis of your current health initiatives by one of our Vocational Rehabilitation and wellbeing specialists, providing personalised recommendations to improve your business’s health and wellbeing strategy.

Absence management support

Working with employers and employees to provide all the support necessary, such as case management consultations, helping set realistic expectations on both sides and comprehensive return-to-work plans.

Cancer Pathway

Providing quick and easy access to support at diagnosis, through treatment, after treatment and end of life – whenever it is needed.

Mental Health Pathway

A single point of access to specialist support for employees and businesses for all mental health queries.

Wellbeing Ready sessions

Bringing you up to date with our very latest added-value services, available to Unum policyholders on a monthly basis.

* Help@hand is a virtual, value-added benefit service which connects the employees of Unum customers to third party specialists who can help manage their health and wellbeing, and that of their family. Access to the service is facilitated by Unum at no cost to the Unum customer. Unum is not the provider of the service, but can withdraw or change the service at any time. The service is entirely separate from any insurance policy provided by Unum and is subject to the terms and conditions of the relevant third party specialists. There is no additional cost or increase in premium as a result of Unum making this benefit available.

"The most important thing you can do as an employer is let us know as soon as you spot the signs that an employee might be going off sick."
Paula Coffey
Director of Claims, Rehabilitation and Medical Services

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