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Coronavirus – The impact on group insurance

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to dominate headlines, our Individual and Group Protection businesses are monitoring the current situation carefully.

We understand this may raise questions on how the outbreak affects our products. We will continue to protect our customers and pay claims as a result of coronavirus, subject to the standard terms and conditions of our policies.

We’ve also prepared an FAQ based on the questions we’ve received so far from our Group Protection advisers and customers.

 

Are eligible employees covered if they die from coronavirus?

Yes, our Group Life policies cover death by any cause.

 

Do you have business continuity plans in place for coronavirus?

Yes, in line with government advice, many of our employees are working from home. This means although many are now working remotely, we can still meet your needs.

For the most up to date status on our service, please see our Coronavirus Update page.

 

What support for employees is available if it’s needed?

The NHS advice on what to do if an employee suspects they have coronavirus can be found here. We also provide a range of employee and employer Support Services that provide guidance and advice on different issues. Click here to find out more.

 

Do your policy terms require customers to follow Foreign Office travel guidance for short term business travel?

We’ll continue to cover members outside the UK when they’re on holiday or travelling for business. We don’t exclude holiday or short-term business travel to other countries, including where the Foreign Office advises against travel.

 

Do you cover members on secondment outside the UK?

Yes, we can cover members who’ve been seconded to a country that’s included in our list of scheduled territories. We’ve included the full list below. Cover for any member working outside the UK permanently, or in a country outside of our scheduled territories should have previously been agreed or will be reviewed individually.

We’ll only pay a Group Income Protection claim to members outside a scheduled territory for a maximum of six months, unless it’s not medically advisable for the member to return to a scheduled territory, or a specific agreement is in place.

 

What’s your list of scheduled territories?

Our scheduled territories are:

  • The United Kingdom
  • All European Union (EU) countries
  • Andorra
  • Australia,
  • Canada
  • The Channel Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Hong Kong
  • Iceland
  • The Isle of Man
  • Liechtenstein
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • San Marino
  • Switzerland
  • The Vatican City
  • USA

 

Will you request any additional travel information at rate review or renewal?

We won’t ask for any extra information beyond what we normally ask for. We still expect to be informed of any travel outside our scheduled territories.

 

Could coronavirus be considered a catastrophic event?

We define a catastrophic event as:

“One originating cause, event or occurrence or a series of related originating causes, events or occurrences, resulting in the deaths of four or more members, irrespective of when or where the members die”.

Coronavirus can be considered one originating cause. Our catastrophic event limits only apply to our Group Life Insurance policies. They don’t apply to our Group Income Protection and Group Critical Illness policies.

 

What catastrophic event limits apply to the policy?

Please check your quote or policy particulars to find out the limits that apply to your policy. These limits may differ based on the total amount insured and your business location.

Our standard travel event limit for Group Life Assurance is £20m.

 

Are members absent from work due to quarantine, following individual medical advice specific to the member, classed as ‘Actively at Work’?

These members would not meet our Actively at Work conditions.

Read our full Actively at Work definition here.

Please note, generic government advice or that from the Chief Medical Officer to the whole UK population is not considered individual medical advice.

Employees who are not at work as they are ‘shielding’ or classed as ‘vulnerable’ (including those who have received a letter asking them to stay at home), but who are otherwise capable of fully performing their normal role, will be classed as actively at work.

 

Are members absent from work due to being furloughed classed as ‘Actively at Work’?

Members who are absent from work due to being furloughed, but who otherwise have not have not received medical advice to refrain from work and are mentally and physically capable of performing fully the normal regular duties associated with the job they are engaged to do, will be classed as actively at work.    

 

Are members absent from work due to self-isolation classed as ‘Actively at Work’?

Members who are absent from work due to self-isolation following guidance from their employer, but who have not received medical advice to refrain from work, will be classed as actively at work.

 

If an employee has been furloughed, is temporarily working reduced hours or is temporarily on a reduced salary, how will this affect their benefit?

Furloughed employees, those temporarily working reduced hours or those temporarily on a reduced salary will continue to be covered for their full benefit entitlement, providing their contract of employment is maintained and premiums are paid on this basis. It’s important that the data provided to us during this time reflects the full salary for each individual, and not the reduced amount that might be paid. 

Cover will continue in line with our temporary absence provisions i.e. up to 3 years for Group Life and Group Critical Illness policies and up to 1 year for Group Income Protection policies.

For furloughed employees, benefits will be calculated from the date of last attendance. For employees temporarily working reduced hours, benefits will be calculated from the date they last worked their full contracted number of hours. For employees temporarily on a reduced salary, benefits will be calculated from the date prior to when the temporary change to salary was made.


Where employers claim 80% of furloughed employees usual monthly wage costs from the Government (up to £2,500 p.m.), how will this affect their benefit?

Our understanding is that the contractual salary will remain in place. Where a salary definition includes reference to “Basic salary”, this will remain at 100%. Where a salary definition includes reference to “Total Earnings”, we will use the annual equivalent of his or her earnings in that period (or since joining the 'employer', if later). For Group Income Protection, bonuses will need to be averaged over the preceding three years in line with our standard terms and conditions.

This stance will be reviewed on 31st July 2020 or if there is a change in Government support prior to this date.

Please note that these are all subject to our standard terms and conditions.

 

Eligibility is linked to pension scheme membership. Will cover continue if employees temporarily reduce or stop contributing to the relevant pension scheme?

Yes. We can maintain cover for employees who were previously insured as pension scheme members if they choose to reduce or stop their regular contributions, for a period of five months from 1st March 2020. This includes insurance for employee pension contributions under a Group Income Protection policy. Membership data and premium payment will need to reflect that the employees are still considered pension scheme members.

After the five month period, employees will be expected to become ‘active’ members of the scheme again and restart regular pension scheme contributions. However, this stance will be reviewed prior to the 31st July 2020 in response to further Government updates.

 

Will Group Income Protection benefits be reduced for employees who have been furloughed or who have temporarily had their salaries or hours reduced?

As long as premiums and data continue to reflect the full, contracted salaries, we will maintain cover accordingly. Please note, our standard terms and conditions will continue to apply.

 

Will you maintain cover for employees who are volunteering?

Yes, as long as the contract of employment is maintained and premiums continue to be paid, cover will continue in line with our standard temporary absence provisions.

 

Are you requesting medical evidence to complete a medical underwriting decision in light of the current pandemic and strain on the health service?

We have a very experienced Medical Underwriting team, plus very capable Medical Officers, who will endeavour to assess Health Declarations without contacting GP’s / Specialists for further information. We can also utilise the experience and expertise of our reinsurers.

If additional information is required due to disclosures on a Health Declaration, we will look to engage the member for letters or other supporting evidence (such as recent company medicals) to avoid burdening the health service.

Other methods of collecting evidence will also be considered where appropriate, but we will look to adopt a pragmatic approach wherever possible.

 

How should I send forms and documents?

During this challenging time, many of us are having to adapt the way we work at short notice. We want to make this period as stress-free as possible for you, so we’ve changed the way we’re accepting forms.

All our key forms can now be completed online and sent to us via e-mail. This includes our health declarations, claim forms and on-risk documents.

The signature box on our forms can now contain either a signature or a typed name.

For example, you can now send us:

  • A scanned copy of the form with a signature
  • A photo of the form with a signature
  • An edited PDF with a typed name in the signature box

These changes mean you no longer need to send us physical documents by post. This should help save you time and make things as easy as possible.

Download our new forms from our document library.

 

Can you help employers struggling financially due to coronavirus?

During these challenging times, we want to help our customers as much as we can. We are happy to consider flexibility for those who need it.

If you would like to understand more about the options available, please speak to your Account Manager or contact us at groupcsc@canadalife.co.uk.

 

More information

If you have any other questions about the impact of coronavirus on our products, please get in touch with your account manager, or contact us on:

groupcsc@canadalife.co.uk

 

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