In the last few years we have had to endure
well-meaning lectures from politicians about how we should become more healthy,
fitter and even happier.
Perhaps if they looked healthier, with no bags
under their eyes and practising what they preach – we may have taken some
But it is also the natural British reaction to
anyone telling us what to do and how to do it.
This backlash against the nanny state has not
helped health insurers when they try to encourage or reward us for being
Insurers have often hidden the help among the
other policy benefits, or made the whole thing so complicated that you need a
mathematics degree to work it out.
Most of us are working harder and longer than
ever. Some fool once said that computers and the web would mean we would all
only work one day a week. But the reverse is true as 24/7 technology means few
people are ever totally away from work - even if supposedly on holiday on a
Stress is now the biggest cause of being off
work, with other mental problems and bad backs, being more of a problem than
actual illnesses or accidents.
A report recently suggested that employers should
offer more help on rehabilitation to get people back to work, and a new
insurance only covering rehab treatment. Some insurers welcomed it but most are
trying to convince politicians that shoehorning the suggestion into their
existing income protection or private medical insurance offerings is the
answer. No it is not - it is like saying commuting to work in winter on a bike
is really the same as having a BMW.
The idea that insurers should tailor offerings -
not just to give money while people are off work - but to offer real practical
rehabilitation help - is a good one. Insurers will claim they often do that as
part of a policy - but forget their exclusions on bad backs, stress and mental
Some insurers can honestly say that they offer
this type of cover as part of private medical, health cash or income protection
insurances. But that is like telling me to buy a full board 12-day package
holiday in France, when all I actually want is a train or plane trip from
London to Paris.
So, while insurers are looking at corporate rehab
insurance - being misled that a possible tax carrot is a good reason for doing
so - who is going to be so bold and brave as to offer a simple individual
It has to offer benefits other than money, such
as treatment at a chain of clinics, and be a low-price simply rated (ignoring
age and sex) cover available online. It has to do what it says on the tin.
The selling feature is that to people who are
self-employed, run a small business or work for a small company - every day off
work costs them money.
Offering people what they need at a price they
can afford is actually possible in insurance - I know as I have designed such
So who is going to accept my challenge?