Long Covid was the second most common cause of referrals for early intervention and rehabilitation under Aviva group income protection policies during 2021.
The persistence of Covid-19 symptoms, such as fatigue, breathlessness and joint or muscle pain, for weeks or months beyond the initial illness, called long Covid, came second behind mental health in 2021.
Mental health accounted for 52% of all referrals, either as a means of early intervention to prevent sickness absence from work or rehabilitation to support remaining in or returning to work.
Long Covid (13%) was followed by support for musculo-skeletal (10%) and cancer (10%), previously the most common supported conditions behind mental health.
It was the fourth most common condition requiring support via individual income protection policies after mental health (30%), musculo-skeletal (26%) and cancer (16%).
Aviva introduced its specialist long Covid income protection claims pathway in August 2020 for both individuals and group scheme members. The insurer offers bespoke support to customers depending on the severity of their symptoms.
The majority (84%) of group income protection customers who received Aviva’s support for long Covid returned to or remained in work.
A majority (88%) of those who returned to work did within their policy’s deferred period, most commonly 26 weeks.
Meanwhile, 91% of customers with individual income protection policies who received support for long Covid returned to work.
Overall, 80% of employees supported by Aviva’s group income protection rehabilitation support, whatever the condition, either remained at or returned to work, as did 78% of customers with individual income protection policies.
Fran Bruce, managing director of protection at Aviva, said: “ Most people of working age will recover from Covid -19 within a few weeks but after three months some sufferers will continue to have symptoms. It is vital that these people are recognised as early as possible and given the appropriate rehabilitation support to improve their health and help them return to work.”
“The severity of long Covid symptoms are often not related to the severity of the initial infection, which makes early recognition and intervention even more important.”