The comprehensive guide to Long Covid cover

Defined as symptoms of Covid-19 that persist for over four weeks, Long Covid takes an undeniable mental and physical toll on sufferers.1

Symptoms include insomnia, fatigue, nausea and chest pains,2 and it’s perhaps no surprise that the illness causes work performance to suffer. For SMEs with limited manpower, Long Covid can have a debilitating impact on the workforce.

The emergence of the condition left insurers scrambling to amend service provisions and policy guidelines to meet the needs of their SME customers, and we now stand at a point where the key providers have either devised specific pathways to treat Long Covid or have tailored existing provisions to suit it.

For your ease, we’ve compiled a list of the Long Covid cover available from ten key insurers, including group risk providers.

Private medical insurance (PMI) providers

Aviva

Policyholders would be able to seek assistance for Long Covid symptoms subject to policy terms and conditions. Furthermore, if the policy includes the GP referred option the policyholder may be able to access routine consultations and diagnostic tests with a registered specialist (up to £1,000 per person per policy year benefit limit).

All claims are subject to a full claims assessment and all terms and conditions would need to be met prior to any benefit being put in place.

There is currently no benefit for long term management of Long Covid symptoms.

AXA Health

AXA Health offers a pathway to private care for those with a confirmed or suspected case of Long Covid.

This pathway gives access to:

  • Support and guidance from experienced professionals
  • Referrals to specialists
  • Referrals to the Long Covid rehabilitation programme
  • A multidisciplinary team of specialists who have worked extensively with patients with both acute Covid-19 and Long Covid
  • Access to a Long Covid rehabilitation programme provided by Nuffield Heath that provides physical and emotional support

Bupa

Bupa will facilitate an investigation into the individual’s Long Covid symptoms to determine which treatment is the most appropriate before proceeding.

Bupa will cover policyholders’ treatment if they appear to be suffering from acute Long Covid symptoms and judge their suitability on an individual basis.

Unfortunately, Bupa cannot accept claims for Long Covid symptoms that can be understood as a chronic condition or require long-term rehabilitation.

Vitality

Vitality offers Long Covid care that is personalised to the individual’s requirements.

This includes:

  • GP-led clinical assessment comprising of history, examination and functional status assessment
  • A range of additional clinical tests including blood tests, chest X-rays, urine tests and 12-lead ECG
  • Specialist consultation with respiratory, cardiology or neurology consultants for organ-specific symptoms*
  • Access to mental health and wellbeing support, including up to eight sessions of CBT, counselling or therapy**
  • Access to focused musculoskeletal (MSK) physiotherapy
  • Specialised respiratory, occupational therapy and speech therapy (where eligible)*
  • Access to partners and rewards as part of the Vitality Programme to empower members towards recovery, healthy living and improved health outcomes
  • NHS cash benefit for any VitalityHealth member hospitalised in the NHS due to acute Covid-19 infection (up to £250 per day for the first eight days rising to £500 per day from the ninth day onwards subject to a maximum reimbursement of £5,000)

*GP referral letter required
**Requires Talking Therapies benefit

WPA

WPA provides support for sufferers of Long Covid, and provides benefits for the treatment of acute symptoms, so long as the individual wishing to make a claim doesn’t have a personal exclusion relating to their Long Covid symptoms. If a person’s condition requires long-term monitoring or maintenance, they are not eligible for treatment due to WPA’s rules against providing cover for chronic conditions.

Group income protection providers

All group income protection providers offer early intervention and rehabilitation support services for all forms of illness and injury so Long Covid will naturally fall under these services.  The providers listed below have identified bespoke services related to Long Covid.

Aviva

Aviva have tailored their Working to Wellbeing service to cater to sufferers of Long Covid.

Made up of specialist health professionals, Working to Wellbeing allows individuals to work with psychologists, therapists and physiotherapists so that they can return to work.

Not only does this service help those affected by Covid-19 and Long Covid, it also provides support for employees whose mental or physical health has suffered more generally as a result of the pandemic and the resulting changes in working practices (i.e. remote working).

The service can provide:

  • Early intervention to prevent symptoms worsening
  • Support for employees unable to work at full capacity
  • Help for employees to regain back their confidence, mental resilience and physical fitness so they can perform better at work
  • Behavioural assistance to help manage symptoms
  • Advice on managing fatigue
  • Employer support
  • Workstation assessments
  • Bespoke phased return to work plans which, depending on the severity of the symptoms, could include a vocational rehabilitation programme featuring CBT, physiotherapy and more.

Generali

Employees who are insured under Generali’s income protection policy will be able to take advantage of rehabilitation support from Vitality 360. This gives them access to:

  • Working with Vitality 360 to stabilise symptoms
  • A bespoke plan to help manage symptoms
  • Advice on returning to work
  • Support with physical symptoms
  • Help to manage potential sources of anxiety like social media, news consumption and finances.

Those individuals who are not insured under the Generali plan can access self-funded rehabilitation programmes via Vitality 360.

Legal & General

Legal & General offers a robust intervention package for individuals displaying symptoms of Long Covid. The service includes:

  • Expert healthcare involving Vitality360, CBT clinics and PhysioMed that allow for swift assessment, treatment and expert support for sufferers.
  • Case management service to identify whether further clinical investigations are required or, if not, arrange up to seven therapy sessions to support the employee’s return to work
  • Advice regarding a realistic return to work plan
  • Eight hours of therapy assessment and rehabilitation time for those with a diagnosis, plus a bespoke treatment plan with further psychological support provided by cognitive behavioural therapy and employee assistance services.

MetLife

Group customers of MetLife can benefit from a comprehensive rehabilitation service if they have been experiencing Long Covid symptoms.

This will then be followed up with a health assessment during which the individual’s restrictions and unmet health needs are identified. Services provided could include:

  • Respiratory therapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Virtual GP services

Unum

Unum provides tailored case management support to employees affected by Long Covid. This includes:

  • An initial needs assessment to identify the support required
  • Bespoke return to work plans with ongoing case management support (where appropriate)
  • Remote psychological support
  • Virtual workstation assessments
  • Work-readiness plans:
      • - Fatigue management and activity-pacing plans
        - Tools and resources to help with cognitive difficulties, e.g., problems focusing
        - Advice on workplace adjustments
        - Personalised support with a dedicated case manager to support return to work

Zurich

Zurich offers a holistic, individualised and collaborative Long Covid assessment in order to support and provide guidance to both employers and employees.

Their in-house rehabilitation team is made up of physiotherapists, general nurses and mental health nurses who are all extensively trained and have experience in providing vocational support. Zurich works closely with their claims case managers so they’re able to quickly identify opportunities for rehabilitation intervention.

Services Zurich offers include:

  • Early intervention and return to work support
  • Presenteeism intervention to support those who are still working but struggling with symptoms
  • Bespoke ‘return to work’ plans tailored to address an employee’s symptoms, level of function and demands of the role
  • Support for employers and employees provided by highly experienced and skilled professionals
  • Guidance with any challenges faced along the way to recovery, helping to rebuild the individual’s confidence and improve resilience

Resources

1. Overview | COVID-19 rapid guideline: managing the long-term effects of COVID-19 | Guidance | NICE
2. Long-term effects of coronavirus (long COVID) | NHS (www.nhs.uk)