COVID and Why Critical Illness Insurance Should Be On Everyone's "To Do" List
Fred J. Hegner, CPCU, FLMI
General Manager of Regional Health: Focusing on a Simple and Engaging Journey for the Insurance Customer
Published Sep 22, 2021
Last month I wrote about how COVID is accelerating the insurance industry's push to transform digitally. As we begin to realize how COVID will be around long after vaccines are available everywhere, insurers will need to quickly address how we all live with the virus during its endemic stage. And one way insurers can add value and protect us from the growing number of risks associated with COVID is through a simple yet relatively unfamiliar product: Critical Illness insurance.
In many parts of the world where insurance is purchased privately but comprehensive private cover is still too expensive for many, Critical Illness insurance can be an attractive solution if the right "awareness" elements are raised. Critical Illness products typically cover the big health risks: cancer, heart disease, major organ failure, and in some cases, diabetes and trauma. Before COVID, the market for such a product was relatively new. The benefits of buying Critical Illness cover was to add an extra degree of safety to cover against the risk of a serious health issue. But COVID has added a degree of complexity to everyone's health, and in many different ways. Not only is our long-term health affected if we contract and survive COVID; we are also at risk of developing serious health issues as a result of our change in lifestyle and behavior due to COVID.
Not only is our long-term health affected if we contract and survive COVID; we are also at risk of developing serious health issues as a result of our change in lifestyle and behavior due to COVID.
Here at Tune Protect, we are anticipating these new risks as we begin to realize the long-term impacts from COVID. While we are quick to address trends related to COVID and the need for protection against the virus itself, we are starting to see troubling trends in multiple segments of the population, particularly the younger segments who are at greater risk of developing new habits due to changes in their behavior and lifestyle during the pandemic.
And what exactly are these changes in habits and trends? Let's take a closer look at the following:
1. Remaining sheltered in place voluntarily or due to mandated lockdowns is not good for our mental health or dietary habits. Excessive eating patterns are on the rise as well as the consumption of more processed foods from home delivery services.
2. There has been a significant increase in alcohol and tobacco consumption in many countries since the start of the pandemic.
3. Public and private fitness center closures have led to an overall decrease in physical exercise and activity.
4. Stress, anxiety and depression levels have been growing with the need to juggle multiple demands while working or studying from home. A sense of isolation and lost physical connection with friends and family is also challenging our mental health.
There are more trends that could be considered, but the picture is clear: changes in habits stemming from the pandemic are on the rise which can accelerate serious health risks such as cancer, stroke and heart attacks. To address these serious health issues, Tune Protect is committed to delivering simple, digitally-based Critical Illness insurance products to key market segments in Malaysia and Thailand with the intent to expand to other ASEAN countries and the Middle East.
Changes in habits stemming from the pandemic are on the rise which can accelerate serious health risks such as cancer, stroke and heart attacks.
On August 31, 2021, we officially launched "myFlexiCI" in Thailand, our fully digital Critical Illness product that gives the customer the freedom to pick and choose the critical illness coverage they want.
Not only did we see a need to raise awareness in the Thai market for serious health risks, but we could also see the trends related to COVID developing. Our market study showed that many younger Thais were not aware of these risks that can develop from their current habits and behavior; roughly half of those surveyed were not aware of one or more of the top deadly diseases in Thailand as reported by the Public Health Ministry.
As a result, "myFlexiCI" is intended to raise awareness for serious health risks in Thailand with Malaysia as the next country to launch a Critical Illness product. In Thailand, we see a key need to raise awareness for Critical Illness for the reasons mentioned due to the pandemic. As a company and industry, we must point out that changes to lifestyle and behavior related to COVID are accelerating health risks. Not only do we see troubling trends on the rise, but Thailand in general has a significant health coverage gap which can be addressed by simple and attractively-priced insurance products focused on the younger "Millennial" customer.
As a company and industry, we must point out that changes to lifestyle and behavior due to the pandemic are accelerating health risks and we need to raise awareness for serious health risks.
Raising awareness of serious health issues is at the heart of Tune Protect's vision and strategy. We want to be an insurer that truly partners with our customers on their health journey. We will not only protect them but we will raise awareness along the way and offer them innovative and easy to understand services that compliment their insurance choices. Two examples of these are the services we have launched with the "myFlexiCI" product in Thailand: Health2Go and myEliteDoctor.
Health2Go is our innovative telemedicine service that is embedded into several of our insurance products including "myFlexiCI". It offers a one-stop solution for our customer to access a medical professional anytime and anywhere.
myEliteDoctor is a world-class second medical opinion service for those in need after being diagnosed with a serious health condition such as cancer or heart disease.
Starting in 2022, Tune Protect will continue to innovate with new services such as digital health assessment and personalized content tools to make the customer health journey better and stronger. This all starts with our focus and commitment to simple, easy to understand products such as Critical Illness insurance. Such products are key to helping raise awareness for serious health risks and especially how these risks are being accelerated by the COVID pandemic.
This all starts with our focus and commitment to simple, easy to understand products such as Critical Illness insurance. Such products are key to helping raise awareness for serious health risks and especially how these risks are being accelerated by the COVID pandemic.