We regularly work with ‘vulnerable’ customers – people, such as those with dementia, who can find dealing with customer service departments in financial services and other companies confusing and difficult.
Old age and dementia
Zurich was an active member of the financial services dementia awareness round table who produced the Dementia Friendly Financial Services Charter. The charter is committed to improving the customer experiences of people living with dementia when dealing with financial service organisations. One area highlighted in the charter is the training of front line staff and in response to that challenge we arranged for the Alzheimer's Society to provide bespoke training to Zurich staff. Following the training, we have constructed a training module to ensure new members of our customer services teams understand the problems faced by this growing section of the population. Our customer services teams also receive Zurich Tone of Voice training. This provides employees with the skills to identify when a customer is vulnerable, for example if they’re confused or suffering from memory loss. This enables staff to tailor the way they deal with the customer to improve their experience with Zurich without increasing the risk of fraud. 'Singing for the Brain' is a service provided by the Alzheimer's Society which uses singing to bring people together in a friendly and stimulating environment. Dementia can disconnect people from their memories, the people around them and society. It can seriously impact someone’s ability to communicate which can lead to social isolation and loneliness. 'Singing for the brain' sessions help people to unlock this communication block and through Zurich Community Trust's funding, five such groups are being funded across the UK. Our ‘Call in Time’ Programme, developed by Zurich Community Trust, in partnership with Age UK, matches isolated older people with employee volunteers for a weekly telephone chat, often during the working day.
Download the Dementia Friendly Financial Services Charter
Investment in mesothelioma research
In 2014 Zurich pledged to donate a further £500,000 over two years to the British Lung Foundation’s research programme into the deadly asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma. This is in addition to the £750,000 we provided between 2011-2013.
With just £1.2m currently estimated to be invested in mesothelioma research annually by government bodies and other organisations, this investment represents a significant boost for research into a disease that kills over 2,500 people in the UK each year.
Zurich is committed to helping people with employment-related mesothelioma and their families combat this awful disease. This has included contributing to compensation for patients and families who have been unable to trace their original insurer, and now includes this further investment in research.
Income Protection and rehabilitation
In 2015 Zurich sponsored a study into Income Protection and rehabilitation by independent economist Kyla Malcolm, who valued this support at around £110m per year.
She calculated that every £1 spent on rehabilitation to support the long term sick and disabled generates cost benefits totalling £16.80 for individuals, the tax payer, employers and insurers because people recover and return to work more quickly. Rehabilitation support, a benefit provided through income protection, is often overlooked even though it can help people back to work sooner, with early intervention and treatment reducing the amount of time they need to take off and the likelihood of further relapses.
To read the research in full click here
Guide to organising financial affairs for vulnerable customers
In 2015 Zurich published a guide to help people put their financial affairs in order, should they become mentally incapacitated. ‘A guide to Deputyship and Lasting Power of Attorney’, outlines what people need to do if they wish to appoint someone else to handle their financial affairs. The guide is intended to help customers in good mental health who are considering putting things in place should they develop mental health problems in the future; customers in the early stage of dementia who are looking to plan ahead for when they become mentally incapable of managing their own finances; and families and carers acting on behalf of customers no longer able to manage their own affairs.
It can be accessed here
Zurich Support Services
A support service for customers and their immediate family members was launched in 2014 as part of our income protection offering. The freephone service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, It is staffed by a team of independent experts who can offer assistance with work, personal or family related matters, which includes access to short-term counselling. Customers can use the service as many times as they need.
In 2014 Zurich announced its involvement in ‘7 Families’, a charity led campaign to provide a tax-free income for one year to seven people who have lost their income because of a serious or long-term illness or disability. We want to highlight the need for people to plan financially in case they become too ill to earn an income and the charity Disability Rights UK are working with the seven families where the main breadwinner has been forced out of work by an accident or illness and not received any related insurance pay out.
We have been exploring a number of new initiatives to help locate our customers and reunite them with their assets and also to pay plan benefits to beneficiaries where the policyholder is found to be deceased, but no claim has been made.
In 2015 we made great efforts to trace customers who have failed to respond to our communications with them. Some of the actions have included completing more focused tracing over and above our usual activity when a policyholder is approaching an important point, for instance, retirement.