Inspire spring 2019

The latest health and wellbeing news from The Health Insurance Group

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.
In this edition we look at how you can protect your business against cyber crime. We also explore the impact of social media on mental health, and how attitudes to mental health have changed over the years.

Cyber crime: the new threat to businesses

We live in an increasingly digitised world, with an endlessly rising number of interconnected devices. Yet data security continues to be an issue that many people take for granted.

Fraudsters continue to use new techniques to commit their crimes including the use of cyber technologies and the internet as an enabler.


There is no company or product that doesn’t have cyber risk attached to it. Seldom does a week go by without a major data breach being reported in the news. So much so that cyber risk is now one of the biggest threats to your business.

Between October 2017 and March 2018 there were:

  • 332,570 crimes reported to Action Fraud
  • £706 million lost by victims

62% of reports were from businesses and 39% from individuals. 

Email is both an excellent communication tool and also a way that companies can inform you about their latest products and services. However, scam emails are currently one of the most common threats in cyber security.

Fake emails often (but not always) display some of the following characteristics:

  • The sender’s email address doesn’t tally with the trusted organisation’s website address
  • The email is sent from a completely different address or a free web mail address
  • The email does not use your proper name, but uses a non-specific greeting like “dear customer”
  • A sense of urgency; for example the threat that unless you act immediately your account may be closed
  • A prominent website link. These can be forged or seem very similar to the proper address, but even a single character’s difference means a different website
  • A request for personal information such as user name, password or bank details
  • The email contains spelling and grammatical errors
  • You weren't expecting to get an email from the company that appears to have sent it
  • The entire text of the email is contained within an image rather than the usual text format
  • The image contains an embedded hyperlink to a bogus site

What to do if you receive a scam email

  • Do not click on any links in the scam email
  • Do not reply to the email or contact the senders in any way
  • If you have clicked on a link in the email, do not supply any information on the website that may open
  • Do not open any attachments that arrive with the email

Keep your private information safe

Do not give out private information (such as bank details or passwords), reply to text messages, download attachments or click on any links in emails if you’re not sure they’re genuine.

We know that fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated in their tactics, so if you ever receive an email purporting to be from The Health Insurance Group but which asks you to confirm your personal details online, or which states that your insurer has changed the bank account into which your premium should be paid, please phone our head office on 023 8063 2880 to verify its authenticity before doing anything else.

If you think you may have compromised the safety of your bank details and/or have lost money due to fraudulent misuse of your cards, you should immediately contact your bank.

If you've been a victim of fraud, report it to Action Fraud. Action Fraud also offers live 24/7 reporting for businesses.

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Unlike: is social media bad for us? 

Over the last 10 years the way people interact and communicate with others has changed drastically due to a vast increase in the use of online social networks. An increasing number of stories are making the headlines regarding the negative impact of social media, with the government even threatening to ban it if the providers do not do more to protect their users from the harm social media use causes to their mental health. Is it time for us to click unlike and log off?


Rapid growth

Social networks have been rapidly growing and are now approaching 3 billion active users worldwide, around 40% of the world’s population, and are used for both business and personal communication.

They increase connectivity, create accessible learning opportunities, and are good for sharing ideas, meeting like-minded people and getting feedback. They are a good way to vent frustration at poor service, or share and discuss views on politics. They are used as a coping mechanism, for example to seek help in finding missing pets or loved ones. They can also be a force for change, with strangers banding together to support each other or causes they believe in.

However, online communication channels may appeal to those who are already socially isolated and to those who contribute little to community life. These individuals may already be depressed and an increase in time spent online could result in reduced family communication and a smaller social circle based in reality. Although they may have lots of online ‘friends’ the interactions that they have, and their online relationships, may be shallow and do not replicate face to face communication with other human beings. This withdrawal from traditional communication processes could lead to greater isolation and loneliness.

Time consuming

The time that people spend in front of computer screens has increased, especially for the young who have grown up with technology as the norm. This time spent staring at screens is not good for physical health either, with increased obesity levels and inactivity contributing to many of the health conditions associated with poor lifestyles.

On average individuals spend about 2 hours every day sharing, liking, tweeting and updating their feeds. It is thought that social networking can become addictive and regular users can begin to neglect other aspects of socialising such as family and ‘real’ friends. People who go ‘cold turkey’ and come off sites after sustained use can report similar symptoms to withdrawal from alcohol, drugs and smoking such as irritability, headaches etc.

Impact on sleep

Some studies have also suggested that dependence on social networks can impact sleep quality. The exposure to the artificial blue light emitted by smart screens, and brain stimulation, can affect the production of melatonin, the hormone that facilitates sleep. How often someone logs on in the evening is a high predictor of disturbed sleep.

We know that social acceptance and self-esteem are vital for good mental health. Some of the studies have looked at the relationship between social networks and subjective wellbeing scores of young adults, and indicate that users’ perception of their wellbeing and life satisfaction may be undermined by the images they see, and the responses to their own online communications from their connections.

Feelings of inadequacy

Social comparisons, or ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, are used frequently on these sites with people being able to literally peer into a snapshot of someone else’s life, or their online version of them that they want to portray. Often these are enhanced or altered to give a false impression of physical traits and appearance and provide a rose tinted view of an individual’s life. Although many now regard these posts and images with scepticism and may not trust them for their accuracy, for those who already have low self-esteem, or are predisposed to anxiety or depression, it may lead to further feelings of inadequacy and a negative impact on mental health.  

Although in their infancy, some studies suggest that prolonged use of social networking sites may be related to some of the signs and symptoms of depression, with certain social networking activities blamed for enhancing feelings of low self-esteem, and low self-confidence, particularly in young people and children. This theory is still very much disputed and it is clear can be seen as a controversial topic of discussion; questions about both the negatives and positives of prolonged use and the impact on mental health still remain.

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Mental health attitudes over the last century 

When looking at the changing attitude towards mental health, it can be hard to believe how far we have come. Thankfully the attitudes and stigmas that have been well entrenched have begun to shift and there is now greater public awareness through media campaigns, the Royal Foundation’s focus on mental health, and even speciality magazines such as Psychology Today which has made mental health part of the mainstream conversation and demystified it to the wider general public.


Prior to the late 1960s and 70s the topic of mental health and mental illness was not considered a major concern and was often treated as a ‘private matter’ by families and individuals.

Post-war attitudes

Interest in mental health, as opposed to diagnosed mental illness, stems from attitudes developed in the UK after the First World War and enhanced by the lessons learned from both civilians and military personnel during the Second World War. Prior to these wars many feared that mental ill-health was contagious, and regarded those who suffered from mental health conditions as ‘mentally defective’, ‘lunatics’ or somehow ‘irretrievably broken’, which reflected the harsh environment and stigma associated with mental health conditions at that time. This language was even used in Government legislation in 1913 and offers some indication of why mental ill-health was often hidden by families.

The turn of the century

Looking back further to the turn of the century mental ill-health was not given the same level of acknowledgement as physical ill-health, especially by the newly founded NHS. The state decided that people who were mentally ill should be locked away for their own safety, and for the safety of others. People were ‘legally committed’ to large and isolated ‘institutions’ which had cropped up all over the UK to house people with a whole range of mental health conditions (and some without any!) so that they were out of sight and out of mind. These asylums quickly gained the daunting reputation of ‘mad houses’ and ‘lunatic asylums’ where people were placed and were never seen again, reinforcing the terrifying stigma associated with mental ill-health. There was no focus on cure or treatment, even for those who today we would consider to have mild or moderate symptoms of mental ill-health.

Fortunately, the medical profession began to recognise that there was a role for community care and for moving away from these asylums where any of hope of recovery was virtually non-existent. Hospitals began to set themselves up for outpatient care and GPs began to make the connection between physical and mental health with their patients. This was coupled with a surge in self-help publications which raised awareness among the general public that mental health was a broader issue than they had realised.

Introduction of The Mental Health Act

The Mental Health Act was introduced in 1959 and began the wider transition to community care and to general hospitals. The 1960s and 70s saw a number of damning reports highlighting the conditions in asylums, and questioning the removal of the dignity and rights of those left behind in institutions. As a result the number of people housed in them began to decline and most were closed in the late 1970s. This led to a growing level of anxiety among the general population, reinforced by a very small number of high profile cases, about the release of people who were suffering from serious mental health conditions into the community at large. Indeed there was perceived to be a greater risk to the community and, lacking adequate care; many of those who were released from asylums ended up in the criminal justice system and imprisoned.

Changing perceptions

It wasn’t, however, until the 1990s that the Government decided to start to invest heavily in mental health care and perceptions truly began to change. A rhetoric where ‘happiness’ was being measured by Governments across the world, and a revolution in internet communication and greater openness has also resulted in more and more people openly talking about mental health, and their own experiences of it. And in the 21st century there has been a transformational change in attitudes towards mental health, backed up by evidence of the positive economic impact of investment in mental health services because of welfare expenditure and productivity losses.

It was only a decade ago that the Government was widely mocked for raising the concept of wellbeing but it has gained widespread acceptance now as an important part of our everyday life. The introduction of Ministers for loneliness, mental health, and an interest from some in a shorter working week is evidence that the tide has shifted.

Campaigns such as ‘Time to Change’, ‘Heads Together’ and ‘This is Me’ have also contributed to the change in attitudes and as more and more people openly discuss mental health as something that everyone experiences, this can only escalate in the future. This is welcome news as the emerging scale of the UK’s mental ill-health is becoming more apparent.

A hot topic

From a workplace health perspective, the prevention and management of mental health has become a hot topic. Employers have mirrored public opinions and attitudes towards mental health over the last few decades and recognised that they have a responsibility to do more to help their employees, and those who manage them. This greater openness will hopefully create a working environment where every employer recognises their responsibility and invests in employee wellbeing.

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An update on The Health Insurance Group

Investor in Customers Gold!

You may recall receiving an invitation from Investor in Customers (IIC) in Q4, asking you to give your feedback on how The Health Insurance Group is doing. Thank you to all of you who took the time to fill the survey in. We are thrilled to have been awarded Gold status by IIC for the third time in a row.


We continue to work tirelessly to ensure that our proposition is fit for customers. As a business that relies heavily on the strength of our customer relationships, it is vital for us to find out how our clients feel about us. IIC is at the core of our business proposition, so we are delighted to have been recognised with the highest rating once again.

We take on board the feedback from the survey seriously, and use it to help inform our business model. One area we realise we could do better in is of keeping you up to date about things you might be interested in, so this is something we aim to improve in 2019 – as you will see below.

Change of ownership

We wrote to you in October to let you know that Health & Protection Solutions Ltd trading as The Health Insurance Group had been acquired by Nevada Investments Topco, which is jointly owned by Highbridge Principal Strategies (HPS) and Madison Dearborn Partners (MDP).

The Health Insurance Group is now part of The Ardonagh Group, also owned by HPS and MDP.

There’s lots of exciting times ahead as we explore the opportunities being part of the wider Group brings, including working with other specialist brokers so that we are able to offer a broader range of insurance solutions to you.

One such specialist broker is Towergate Insurance Brokers, one of the UK’s leading independent insurance brokers and risk management advisers.

Towergate Insurance Brokers

With over 1,850 people in more than 60 local offices, Towergate Insurance Brokers holds a UK wide presence. And with over 100 dedicated claims professionals in 30 locations, they have local experts to help you when needed.  

Towergate’s teams of specialists offer expert risk management, business continuity and health and safety advice, alongside wider protection services, to ensure you are protected against the unforeseen. They have built a solid reputation for understanding many business sectors and industries, and navigating the everyday and emerging risks faced in today’s increasingly complex world.

If you would like to know more about how Towergate Insurance Brokers could help your business, please speak to your normal adviser, and they will be happy to refer you to one of our new colleagues.

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Latest news from the insurers

Did you see the latest updates from the insurers?

Here's the latest from Aviva, AXA PPP, BHSF, Bupa, Healix Health Services, Simplyhealth, Vitality and Unum.



14 January 2019: Aviva launches new midmarket approach
Aviva has redesigned its approach for midmarket clients to open up corporate-level services and customer-level underwriting to the midmarket segment for the first time.

9 January 2019: Aviva rolls out digital GP service to SME and individual customers
After launching the service to its group customers in April 2018, Aviva has announced that is has broadened its digital GP service to include its SME and individual health insurance customers.


21 January 2019: GP boost for large corporate health schemes
AXA PPP healthcare is adding its Doctor@Hand private GP service to its Advance health insurance plan for large corporates – at no additional cost for the first year.


13 February 2019: 4.5 million UK workers put off seeing a dentist because they don't have the time
Bupa research has found that over 4.5 million workers have put off a visit to the dentist, because of time constraints.

29 January 2019: Meditation is Brits’ most popular wellbeing therapy
Bupa Global has published new data uncovering the favourite wellbeing therapies of the UK population, from international research.

9 January 2019: Embarrassment causing millions of Brits to delay getting cancer symptoms checked
Embarrassment is causing millions of Brits to delay getting symptoms checked, according to new research from Bupa.


12 February 2019: Vitality launches new Mental Health Cover to add to Holistic Health and Wellbeing Offering
VitalityHealth has further demonstrated its commitment to providing the best mental health cover in the market, with the launch of their new comprehensive mental health package to provide support and treatment to members when they need it most. 

1 February 2019: Vitality encourages people to get their trainers on and keep active in February as part of a new partnership with Runners Need
Vitality is hoping to help get its members up and running throughout 2019, with a new partnership with running specialist, Runners Need.

Best of the rest

8 February 2019: Simplyhealth refreshes GP benefit with new web app service
Simplyhealth research has revealed that nearly seven in ten (67%) UK adults think education is more effective than taxation when encouraging healthy life choices

25 January 2019: Healix asks: What is the difference between mental health and mental illness and is it important?
Mental ill health is a major cause of workplace absence. Sally Campbell, Head of Clinical Development, Healix Health Services, outlines how employers can incorporate mental health into their wellbeing plans.

15 January 2019: New Year, New Job: Nearly 2 out of 5 UK workers on the job hunt, Unum finds
A study from Unum has found nearly a quarter of workers (24 percent) admit they often think about quitting their job, and 43 percent of workers say they will probably look for a new job in the next year.

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