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Rehab cover anyone?

workplace stress

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 notice.


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 healthy.


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 beach.


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 treatment.


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 cover?


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 products.


So who is going to accept my challenge? 

Health insurance hot topic: February 2012