Zurich pioneers rehabilitation initiative for amputees
December 4, 2019
• Zurich has introduced a market-first solution that speeds up access to advanced prosthetics treatment
• Insurer says earlier treatment has helped reduce patient rehabilitation times by as much as eight months
Zurich has introduced a new claims solution to help speed up access to advanced prosthetics and reduce rehabilitation times for people who suffer life-changing injuries.
Across the industry, lengthy civil litigation involved in personal injury claims can leave amputees waiting as long as two years, and sometimes more, for a financial settlement to fund specialist treatment.
During this time, amputees are unable to benefit from more advanced prosthetics – including the new generation of microprocessor limbs – which cost as much as £80,000.
Reliance on less advanced prosthetics can delay a patient’s recovery and lead to physical and mental health problems, including muscle wastage, weight gain and the onset of depression.
But Zurich’s specialist catastrophic claims team has introduced a market-first solution that pays for treatment upfront, giving patients the chance to visit a specialist prosthetics centre without delay.
This means that third party claimants benefit from a full treatment package, including state-of-the-art prosthetics (such as this one being made by Dorset Orthopaedic) and ongoing rehabilitation, many months or years ahead of a financial settlement.
Amy Brettell, Zurich’s Head of Customer, UK claims, said: “Losing a limb is an extremely traumatic experience. While solicitors deal with the legal formalities of a claim, the physical and emotional needs of people who have suffered life-changing injuries can be neglected. Our solution brings the focus back on the patient, paying for the treatment they need upfront. This means people get the right prosthetic limb when they want it, not when the legal system is ready.”
Zurich has set up agreements with four prosthetics centres, which provide an initial needs assessment to the claimant's solicitors and the insurer within a fixed timescale.
Following this, Zurich establishes a fund for the claimant for their initial six-month treatment meaning they do not need to revert back for authorisation.
Zurich estimates that the provision of immediate treatment has reduced the rehabilitation time for people who have been seriously injured by around eight months.
Brettell said: “Without upfront funding, individuals are unable to access specialist prosthetics and rehabilitation support is more restricted. Prosthetics can also become poorly fitting as the injured limb changes, leading claimants to develop a different gait to compensate.
“This means that when a specialist prosthetics provider eventually becomes involved, they will be faced with a series of "bad habits" to undo so an effective trial of a new superior prosthetic will be delayed until the individual can make best use of it. A delay in effective rehabilitation can lead to loss of employment and loss of confidence.
“Our solution focuses on making state-of-the-art prosthetic services and rehabilitation available as early as possible. Claimants are able to focus on their recovery without the stress of delays in funding and months or years of relying on prosthetics with less functionality. This reduces the duration of rehabilitation and helps the injured person to recover and regain their independence sooner.”