The year 2020 has been a reminder of how important it is to be prepared for any eventuality.
The current crisis has drastically altered people's routines. In some circumstances this has brought loved ones closer and allowed many to recalibrate their work-life balance for the better. However, with the ever-growing media presence on the pandemic, it has also made people reflect on their overall wellbeing, priorities and even their own mortality.
Naturally many have focused their thoughts on physiological and safety needs first and foremost and protecting those closest to them. Not just physically but financially too, with many households taking the opportunity to strengthen their financial position, triggering a growing need for protection insurance.
Many have emphasised the importance of insurance, and those with individual protection policies in place have seen the true benefits. Moving forward, we may see a change in attitudes towards cover, with individual protection becoming more of an essential than a nice-to-have.
More than anything, the current crisis has highlighted the importance of protecting those you care about.
With people spending more time at home and juggling more caring duties, having a policy that covers your family can reduce the weight of responsibility.
The home is the most common location for accidents, with children under the age of five and those over the age of 65 most likely to sustain an injury at home. Being prepared will go some way towards providing peace of mind.
The importance of family cover has also been emphasised by the increased number of people booking staycations this year. With travel restricted and quarantine measures constantly changing, one out of five adults reported that they had cancelled their travel plans to avoid having to self-isolate on their return.
UK trips tend to be more active, whether that includes walking, cycling or water sports, meaning that accident cover has been all the more important to allow families to relax and enjoy their time away.
Having financial support in place at times like these is crucial. Research by King's College London revealed that 40% of the UK public are likely to face financial difficulties and 26% are likely to lose their job as a result of the crisis.
These anxieties are particularly pertinent for self-employed people, including gig-workers and freelancers, many of who are suffering from income losses and do not have access to workplace income protection through an employer. For those affected, having access to additional cover such as mortgage protection insurance has been a vital safety net.
With a global recession looming, it is important for workers to consider how they would cover their living expenses during periods of illness or unemployment. Mortgage payments are likely to be one of people's biggest monthly outgoings and, in addition to the major upheaval we have all experienced this year, no one should have to fear losing their home. With mortgage protection, workers can ensure that they will be able to cover loan repayments in times of financial instability.
Prior to the pandemic, mental health services were already struggling to meet rising demand, and this problem was magnified by the lockdown period. With a study by Mind revealing that more than half of adults (60%) and over two thirds of young people (68%) experienced a decline in their mental health during lockdown, access to support has become even more of a priority.
Those with individual protection cover have benefitted from guaranteed around-the-clock support from experts on topics such as general wellbeing, family issues, caring responsibilities, bereavement and probate, meaning that there has always been someone on hand in times of need. With face-to-face services less readily available, MetLife UK has seen a huge surge in demand for virtual support, with the number of online counselling sessions delivered increasing more than ten-fold between January 2020 and July 2020.
Demand for employment advice services has also risen, with call numbers up by 76% in July 2020 compared to the same month last year. With many UK office workers planning to make a permanent switch to working from home, this service will become even more valuable.
With exercise providing great benefits for physical and mental wellbeing, many people have adopted more active lifestyles. Research by Nuffield Health showed that three quarters of Brits adopted at least one new form of exercise within the first two months of lockdown. Alongside this, we are starting to see people turn to alternative methods of travel, such as running and cycling, to avoid public transport.
Data collected over the lockdown period revealed a significant rise in internet searches relating to home exercise and running injuries, and The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) saw traffic to its website increase by 660% as people searched for local practitioners. Individual protection policies cover accidental injuries from ligament tears, dislocations and broken bones, to more serious damage that could have a permanent impact on their life.
Those with appropriate accident cover have been able to fully embrace a new, healthier lifestyle, doing the activities they love with the reassurance of knowing that they are covered for any injuries sustained.
Managing our personal resilience and health and wellbeing are a simpler fix than perhaps finding a solution to uncertainty and the challenges the pandemic has brought. However, taking the necessary steps to protect ourselves, our families and our active lifestyles can be provided with the right protection product. It's so important that we prepare for the everyday that we are all finding ways to be grateful for as well as the longer-term protection which provide invaluable financial support should the worst happen.
With so much demand for protection, there has never been a better time to ensure individuals and their families have the protection they need to provide greater peace of mind as we navigate life together.