Inspire Autumn 2020

The latest health and wellbeing news from Towergate Health & Protection

Welcome to the latest edition of Inspire, our quarterly newsletter, designed to keep you informed about the issues that could be relevant to your business.

With the evenings starting to get darker earlier, and the temperatures dropping, this edition looks at how to stay healthy during the winter months.

You can also read about the importance of keeping up your healthy lockdown habits, and why the general insurance market is proving more challenging for businesses.

Encouraging employees to keep up regular health care

Many people will have had routine appointments cancelled or delayed as a result of Covid-19. Now that dentists are open, private hospitals are open to patients and things are getting back to normal it’s important to get back in the appointment books.

As an employer, there is a lot you can do to help your people stay healthy and well, by supporting them to attend appointments, and reminding them of the health care benefits they have access to.


With concerns about coronavirus and the impact it might have on the health service over the winter, it’s important to stay as healthy as possible, perhaps with a new exercise routine, and staying a good and healthy weight.

Boosting the immune system will help the body be prepared to fight off regular colds and flu as well, so here are five key things employers can do:

1. Flu jabs

Make sure your team has access to flu jabs, whether provided as part of a private policy or simply by promoting the service from the NHS by using posters and sharing information in the workplace. With the likely pressure on the health services this coming winter, protecting people from illness where possible is more important than ever.

2. Provide hygiene support

The pandemic has led to employers increasing the hygiene support that they provide for their teams. One of the ways to prevent illnesses during the winter is to encourage good hygiene practices around the workplace, so providing the opportunities for employees to be hygienic is vital. Providing anti-bacterial wipes for them to use on their phones, keyboard and mouse, can make a big difference. Providing anti-bacterial hand sanitisers and tissues for their workspaces can also help.

3. Communicate about benefits

Make sure you are talking to your employees about the benefits that are on offer at your company and tell them about everything that is available. If there are particular areas which could help, such as health screenings to highlight any problems which could be addressed with action, for example, or access to virtual GP services, it is important that people know about them.

4. Monitor sickness absence

Take time to understand and regularly review the information available within your business about the frequency, and cause, of staff sickness absence, and find out what kind of issues are occurring among your employees, so that you can spot any trends or problems which might need addressing in the workplace.

5. Deal with anxiety

With all of the changes that have happened through lockdown, there could be some anxiety among people about attending appointments at hospitals or GPs. Employers can provide information and guidance to their teams, for example, by sharing advice from the hospitals within their PMI plan about how they are keeping everything clean and safe for patients coming in.

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How to boost your immune system for winter

With winter on the horizon and the traditional increase in colds, flu bugs, not to mention the worry about Covid-19, now is the perfect time to get your body prepared and ready to fight off any illnesses that come your way.

Your immune system is key to fending off any virus or disease, so it’s important to keep it strong and in good shape. There are a number of ways you can help your system to get stronger in time for the winter onslaught.


Here are some key tips for boosting your immune system:

1. Sleep well

Having a good sleep routine is vital for keeping your immune system running properly. If you are tired, your body is exhausted and it won’t have the energy to fight off invading bugs, so make sure you have a good sleep routine.

2. Eat more fruit and veg

Eating fruit and vegetables provides your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to be healthy and keep your immune system in good shape. Vitamin C in particular, from citrus fruits, is valuable in boosting immunity and fighting off colds and flu.

3. Support your gut

The bacteria in your gut play an important part in the balance of your immune system so supporting them by eating probiotic food or drinks or taking a probiotic supplement, can really help to give your body the boost it needs in the winter.

4. Watch your weight

Being overweight can increase your vulnerability to some illnesses, so watch your intake of sugar and try to keep your weight within a healthy range.

5. Regular exercise

Exercising regularly can help to boost your overall health and fitness levels, which will in turn, support your immune system to work more effectively. Regular exercise is great for all round health, giving your body a better chance to fight off illness.

6. Managing stress

When you are very stressed this has a negative impact on your health and your body, including your immune system. If you are suffering from stress you need to take steps to manage it. Consider meditating, exercising, eating healthily and trying to resolve the issues which cause the stress in the first place. Being stressed can make you more susceptible to illness.

7. Consider taking supplements

There are many supplements which can help to boost your immune system and support your body with fighting off colds and other problems. These include Vitamin C, Vitamin D, zinc, garlic and echinacea, to name a few. If you are going to take a supplement you should always speak to your doctor first, particularly if you have any underlying health conditions or are on medication.

8. Drinking water

Most of us don’t drink enough water but staying well hydrated is important for staying healthy and keeping our immune system in good condition, so make sure to drink plenty of water during the day to keep hydrated.

Don’t forget the hygiene

While these tips could all help to boost your immune system, once a cold or other virus is in your body, your immune system has to fight it off. None of these will prevent you catching a cold in the first place.

The most important thing to remember during the winter is hygiene, so washing hands regularly, carrying hand sanitiser to use in public places, and coughing or sneezing into a tissue which is then thrown away, will all go a long way to helping you stay healthy in the winter.

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Keeping up healthy lockdown habits

While lockdown has been a challenging time for many people, there are some positive health impacts which have come out of this forced change to our lifestyles. With many of us forced to stay at home, the time reclaimed from commuting has presented opportunities for a healthier approach to life.

According to Flora, almost half of the nation (43 per cent) has been cooking more from scratch. While the pubs, restaurants and coffee shops were closed, people made more of an effort to cook better at home1.

The research also found that 39 per cent of us ate more fruit and vegetables during lockdown than we were before, which is another really good habit which we all need to keep as the country starts to get back to normal1.

With one in five adults trying out new and different recipes it would seem we have also been creating a lot less food waste during this period, making the most of what we had in the cupboards to avoid unnecessary trips to the shops.

With many people working at home, the temptation to nip out to the coffee shop for a calorie-laden sandwich was taken away, making us eat more healthily, but once back in the workplace, it might be all too easy to start up those bad eating habits again.

The workplace birthday cakes and vending machines provide a regular temptation while at work but as we have managed to live well without them so far, it’s important to try and avoid temptation to keep up the new approach to healthy eating in our lives.

Another area where people have developed a new healthy habit is going outside for regular walks. While during lockdown walking was the only opportunity to leave the house, many of us got used to taking daily walks.

However, as many offices open back up and employees return to the world of commuting and long hours at work, it might be all too easy to revert back to the old days of slumping on the sofa when you get home. Walking is free, easy, low impact, and one of the best forms of exercise, so it is important to try to make time for a regular daily walk before or after work, even if you may not feel as energised to do it.  

Another way that we tried to keep healthy during lockdown was investing in home gym equipment or taking part in remote exercise classes. Ultimately, whether you continue to work out at home, or head back to the gym now they have reopened, it’s important to keep up a regular exercise routine as it’s not just good for you physically but also provides great support for your positive mental health as well.

As we emerge from lockdown and return to our old lives it is easy to return to the same habits and routine we had previously. We should, however, make a conscious effort to maintain the healthy activities we developed over lockdown, even if keeping them at the same level doesn’t seem realistic. Whether this means continuing to cook food from scratch whenever possible, or finding ways to maintain some of the home exercise habits we might have developed, there are clear benefits in maintaining a more healthy lifestyle.



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The importance of insurance brokers in a difficult market

As with many industry sectors, the insurance market is facing a very challenging time right now, partly due to the pandemic but also due to a number of other global issues which have all happened at the same time.

The result is higher insurance costs and insurance companies who are less willing to take on risks, making it harder and more expensive for businesses to get the cover they might need.


This is precisely the time when using an insurance broker makes the most sense. A specialist broker is trusted by insurance companies and has the relationships with them to get the most relevant cover for their business clients’ needs.

So why is the insurance market so tough right now?

There are a number of factors affecting the insurance market, making it harder to get insurance at all, and increasing the cost of premiums when you can get cover. The following are the key issues which are causing the problems:

  • From 2004 to 2018, there has been fierce competition which has resulted in insurers reducing their rates. This has now become unsustainable for insurance companies.
  • Recent years have seen many substantial losses from natural disasters including hurricanes, wildfires, flooding, windstorms and cyclones. These have increased global reinsurance rates by an average of 5.5% this year and these costs are ultimately passed on to primary insurers and their clients.
  • Insurance claims in the UK have all had a severe impact on insurer profitability in a number of key areas including; property, real estate, financial lines, construction, professional indemnity, marine and credit, as well as motor fleet and liability markets.
  • Extremely low interest rates.

What impact has the economic situation caused by Covid-19 had?

Unfortunately, the full effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are as yet unknown but there are already huge losses within the contingency, event cancellation and travel insurance markets, as they have all been hit with huge claims.

With company directors left personally liable for stock market losses and business value erosion and insolvencies, facing legal action from regulators, creditors and shareholders, the insurance market for directors’ and officers’ liability will also be hit hard and is facing losses, making it difficult to get the right cover.

Almost all lines of business are expected to be negatively impacted by Covid-19 in some way. There are already increasing claims for cybercrime, crime and political violence at the moment, as well as fraudulent and exaggerated personal injury claims, which are all impacting the insurance industry.

Property losses arising from unoccupied buildings and an upsurge in litigation brought against companies which may have acted in error or provided negligent advice, particularly in relation to employment law, redundancies and wrongful dismissal are also prevalent.

A number of sectors which have experienced consistent losses are attracting severe insurance rate increases at the moment, and these are where working with a broker is vital to get the cover you need at the right rates. They are:

  • Motor fleet and haulage
  • Management liability
  • Employment practices liability and crime
  • Professional indemnity and construction
  • Property and real estate
  • Marine

So, what does this mean for businesses?

All of these issues affect the insurance companys’ ability to provide cover, particularly for high risk ventures, and increase the cost of premiums. Insurers without enough time and quality information from brokers, are now looking to apply indiscriminate rate increases across their portfolios, alongside severe capacity withdrawals and cover restrictions.

Combined with the wider economic difficulties caused by Covid-19, this can be disastrous for clients who may ultimately have to pay more premium for less cover. However, there is still opportunity in some areas.

The ability of brokers to support their clients by using their expertise and their relationships with the insurers is now absolutely crucial. Insurers are continuing to compete for risks that can be demonstrated by the broker to be of high quality, proactively risk managed and performing well from a claim’s perspective.

As a business, if you are seeking new insurance of any kind, it will prove very challenging in the current marketplace. So if you want help with your general insurance policies, please contact your Towergate Health & Protection consultant and they can introduce you to one of our colleagues at Towergate Insurance Brokers.

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Latest news from the insurers

Did you see the latest updates from the insurers?

Here's the latest from Aviva, Bupa, Medicash, Simplyhealth and Vitality.



29 July 2020 – Lockdown has had a significant impact on sleep quality

Whether you’re continuing to work or you’ve been furloughed since the pandemic struck the UK, many aspects of your health have likely taken a hit – including your sleep quality.

13 August 2020 – British employees feel positive about returning to work – but businesses have work to do to make workplaces safe 

Half (49%) of employed British adults feel positive about the prospect of returning to their place of work after lockdown, with less than one in five (18%) feeling negative, an Aviva study shows


7 July 2020 - Number of Brits ‘bottling up’ mental health issues doubles vs 2019

A new study from Bupa UK shows that the vast majority of UK adults (82%) have experienced symptoms that may indicate poor mental health such as continuous low mood, anxiousness, low self-esteem or hopelessness while in lockdown, yet almost half (44%) haven’t told anyone.

29 July 2020 - Understanding and supporting employees with bereavement

Bupa Health Clinics has created a managers’ guide for businesses, after seeing a 40% rise in queries from companies in lockdown seeking guidance on bereavement and loss.


16 July - Reduced physical activity during lockdown knocks almost 4 months off life expectancy

New data released by Vitality reveals its members saw their life expectancy fall by an average of almost four months (3.8) as a result of a drop off in physical activity levels during the start of the Covid-19 UK lockdown period.

30 July - Vitality offers Coronavirus tests to members

VitalityHealth is to make Coronavirus tests available to its health members from 29 July 2020, to support members to test if they have had an immune system response to Covid-19, meaning they have previously been affected by the virus, or test to see if they have the virus now.

Best of the rest


7 July 2020 - Medicash Launches mProve YOURSELF App 

Medicash has launched a new app designed to help its policyholders to improve their body and mind.


3 July 2020 - Simplyhealth offers Coronavirus antibody test to customers

Simplyhealth is making Coronavirus antibody testing available for existing healthcare plan customers and corporate healthcare plan customers in England from Monday 13 July. These tests can determine if someone has had Covid-19 and developed antibodies which are still present in their body.

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