Insurer moves to tackle mental health as lockdown continues

Policyholders with a leading insurer are to be offered free counselling amid fears that the continued COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are creating a mental health crisis.

Zurich Insurance said it is to offer all its UK policyholders who are making a claim and the adult members of their immediate family five free counselling sessions via Zurich General Insurance Support Services.

David Nichols, Head of UK Claims at Zurich UK, explained: “Dealing with further lockdown measures wasn’t the start to 2021 we were hoping for. With work and home stresses becoming further entrenched, adding additional problems to navigate to someone who may already be experiencing heightened mental health issues must be addressed and mitigated.

“Making any insurance claim is often a time of heightened uncertainty and it is therefore necessary that we as insurers do the right thing for our customers who might already be at the end of their tether due to lockdown. Addressing this time of heightened stress for claimants, by allowing those involved to speak to a professional so a burden ceases to develop, is the right thing to do.

Zurich said a recent UK pilot showed that seven out of ten policyholders that sought the short-term counselling support were females over the age of 30.

“This is a demographic that could be struggling with the balance of work and family commitments during lockdown. The data also suggests that not enough men are seeking help with just three out of ten taking up the opportunity,” added the insurer.

Those that use the counselling sessions will not be obliged to disclose the result of any clinical consultations with Zurich and taking part in any sessions remains entirely optional.

As well as providing five short-term counselling sessions, the Support Service will also offer free access to a range of other services.

Policyholders are offered family caring services, career coaching, debt and money management advices along with legal information.

“Our pilot demonstrated that the majority of those seeking counselling support were females over 30 years old – a demographic that could be struggling to balance the stresses of work and day to day family life during lockdown,” said Mr Nichols. “We also recognise that there is a gender disparity here with far fewer men taking advantage of our free service.”