Income protection (IP) specialist provider British Friendly is – from this week – now giving members the option to reduce their benefit level for up to three months.
The provider said it is making the move to help any members who may be experiencing financial difficulties during lockdown by reducing their premiums temporarily but still having some level of cover in place.
After three months, cover will automatically revert to the original benefit amount without any underwriting required.
Members who have paid at least three month’s premiums will be able to qualify.
A spokesman for the provider said the option is part of the mutual’s wider retention strategy to support members and advisers. In March, British Friendly temporarily relaxed its Premium Holiday (Career Break) rules for existing members who may find it difficult to pay premiums, reducing the qualifying period from one year to one month’s premium paid.
As of July 1, in order to align the two options and “keep it simpler for clients”, the qualifying period for the Premium Holiday will be changed to three months premiums paid, the spokesman said.
In addition, members on a Premium Holiday will now be able to maintain their access to Square Health’s health and wellbeing services (including virtual GP consultations and counselling) through the insurer’s discretionary Mutual Benefits programme until the end of 2020.
Emma Thomson, Product Strategist at British Friendly, said that helping members who are experiencing financial difficulties is “a priority” for the provider.
She said: “We want to give our members alternatives to simply cancelling their policies because they can no longer afford them.
“This new initiative provides specific help to those who need to reduce their outgoings in the short-term while still enabling them to claim if they need to.”