Inspire Summer 2022

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.

In this edition we look at some low cost ideas for helping your workers avoid loneliness, as the rising cost of living leads many to cut back on their social expenditure.  

You can also read about how the NHS is faring, how people react to change, how to support your employees’ mental health, and how to make sure you are not overinsured or underinsured.

The cost of social isolation

As the cost-of-living crisis demands that people pay more for essentials like energy, food, and fuel, many people are finding they have less disposable income each month.

This means less money to spend on social outings, like dinner with friends, a drink down the pub, and even catching up over a coffee.



Not having the money for social expenditures stings even more if the people around us aren’t facing the same problems, whether they’re financially better off or struggling, but not as much.

Unable to afford the typical social expenses, some people may have no choice but to stay at home, often missing out on seeing their friends and loved ones. As the cost of living crisis relegates some people to their homes, we’re likely to see a rise in feelings of loneliness produced by social isolation.

The impact social isolation can have on our mental health shouldn’t be understated. According to the American Psychological Association, loneliness and social isolation are linked to depression, poor sleep quality, impaired executive function, accelerated cognitive decline, poor cardiovascular function, and impaired immunity.1

Ways employers can help

Fortunately, employers are advantageously placed to help employees who feel lonely. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Organised walks. If your employees work in the office, it’s easy to organise a group walk, even if it’s just for half an hour after work or during a lunch break
  • Online pub quizzes. They were all the rage during lockdown, and they could be just what lonely employees need to feel that bit more connected
  • Start a work choir. More and more scientific studies show that singing boosts mood. It also creates a sense of togetherness2
  • After-work sports. It doesn’t cost a thing to have a round of footie in the park after work
  • Book club. A book club is the perfect way to bond with colleagues and have engaging discussions, all without spending any – or very little – money
  • 1-2-1 culture and/or open-door policy. Encourage a culture of 1-2-1s so that workers, if they’re struggling, know they can confide in their line managers

As an employer, you will not be able to totally alleviate your workers’ loneliness, but you will still be able to make a significant difference – these brief moments of respite can really mean a lot to people who are struggling.

1. The risks of social isolation (
2. Benefits of Singing: 10 Ways Singing Boosts Your Health (

Read more

The NHS: a ticking timb bomb?

Despite the herculean efforts of frontline NHS staff these last few years, the NHS faces many problems to which there are no straightforward answers.

It’s true that the pandemic placed enormous pressure on NHS resources, but if we do manage to see through the Covid-19-induced fog back to pre-pandemic times, we may find much of the same problems we see now, just to a lesser extent.



Now, the NHS must contend with enormous backlogs in nearly every direction of elective care, with some patients having to wait years for treatment. Some estimates say that it could take the better part of a decade to clear the backlog.1

The impact of the pandemic on the already struggling NHS

The efforts of NHS staff throughout the pandemic was no small feat, but Covid-19 strained our health sector in a way that couldn’t have been alleviated solely by frontline workers.

The statistics that expose the depth of the problem are startling. According to the BMA, in April, May and June 2020 – the middle of the pandemic – there were:         

  • Between 1.32 and 1.50 million fewer elective admissions than expected
  • Between 2.47 million and 2.60 million fewer first outpatient attendances
  • Between 274,000 and 286,000 fewer urgent cancer referrals
  • Between 20,800 and 25,900 fewer patients starting first cancer treatment after deciding to pursue treatment
  • Between 12,000 and 15,000 fewer patients starting their first cancer treatment following a GP referral.2

The NHS-post pandemic

According to the Independent:

  • The number of patients waiting to start routine hospital treatment through the NHS is the highest since records began 15 years ago
  • Nearly 300,000 patients have been waiting for more than one year for an operation
  • Around 23,000 patients have been waiting more than two years for an appointment, nine times longer than those who had been waiting in April of last year
  • The NHS target is that 95% of emergency patients are seen within four hours, yet the number of people being seen within four hours has hit an all-time low of 71.6%
  • Ambulance waiting times are also worryingly high, with the average response time for patients with life-threatening emergencies surpassed the NHS target of seven minutes to read nine minutes and 35 seconds.3

The future of the NHS

Today, it’s evident that the already struggling NHS is still dealing with the after-effects of the pandemic.

Key recommendations for service improvement ranges from more funding to more accountability measures, to the nation paying a small monthly stipend to use the NHS, but it’s difficult to imagine any of these measures would be sufficient to clear the backlog that some sources say won’t be cleared until 2030.

Businesses should be aware that the nation’s existing dependence on the NHS is likely to wane as long treatment wait times force people to seek other avenues for treatment.

Businesses are in an advantageous position to provide employees with improved access to vital healthcare services through their employee benefits package, so their workers aren’t forced to delay necessary medical treatment which could have the potential to cost the business thousands in absence-related costs if left unchecked.

1. NHS waiting list may not be cleared until 2030 without 'deeper and faster' reforms, Tony Blair Institute warn (
2. the-hidden-impact-of-covid_web-pdf.pdf (
3. NHS care backlog grows to record high of 6.2 million | The Independent

Read more

How people react to extreme change

The change curve is an influential model first proposed over 50 years ago by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Originally developed to map the stages of grief terminally ill people experience upon facing their own mortality, the model has since been successfully applied to understand how people react to major change in general, from job loss to the end of a relationship to organisational upheaval at work.1



More recently the change curve has been used to better understand how people have adapted to the tumultuousness of the last few years, which have featured a global pandemic, a cost-of-living crisis in the UK, and the conflict in Ukraine.

The change curve is comprised of five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Importantly, a person facing a major change won’t necessarily experience the change curve linearly. Some people skip stage 1 and go straight to stage 5, others will go back a stage, some will hover around one stage longer than another, etc.

1. Denial

The first stage in the model is characterised by shock or denial. This is typically someone’s first response to a sudden, unexpected event, whether in their own life or the world at large.

Denial might cause someone to downplay the gravity of the situation or claim that the new change won’t affect them.

2. Anger

Once someone is past the denial stage, anger will typically set in, either self-directed or aimed at others, as people look for someone to blame for this new, unfamiliar situation.

3. Bargaining

When we’re faced with a major change, particularly an unwanted one, it’s normal to want to go back to the way things were – that’s what this stage is all about; trying to negotiate your way back to life before. Whether that’s praying to a higher power or negotiating with your boss, this stage is characterised by a desire to postpone the inevitable.

4. Depression

The ‘depression’ stage of the curve model is marked by wallowing in feelings of sadness and feeling like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. At this point, the big change is still regarded with feelings of mistrust as the individual mourns what life was like before.

5. Acceptance

Eventually, the individual comes to a place of acceptance about their situation and knows and understands that they can do nothing about it but adapt.

Note that this last stage isn’t necessarily a happy one for everyone – a person might be more ‘resigned’ to their fate than accepting, for instance – but it doesn’t have to be. The change curve illuminates the extraordinary ability human beings have to adapt to their circumstances, in spite of disappointment, loss, and pain, and fit themselves into a new version of reality that may look nothing like the one they are used to, or had hoped for.


1. Five Stages Of Grief - Understanding the Kubler-Ross Model (

Read more

The cost-of-living crisis and employees' mental health

From rising inflation, soaring fuel prices, energy prices and food prices, uncertainty has hit the UK from all angles.

It’s no wonder that people are experiencing increased levels of stress and anxiety. According to Employer News, this is leaking into the workplace, with 33% of workers reporting that they’re struggling at work, and a third saying that the cost-of-living crisis was the cause.1



In response to the rise in living costs, 37% of employees said they were considering getting a different job.2

You can imagine that this scale of worsening mental health is a problem for employers. When employees don’t feel happy and secure, their performance suffers. In fact, it’s estimated that financial difficulties costs UK employers £6.2 billion due to ill-health-related absenteeism and presenteeism.3

What can you, as an employer, do to help?

There are a number of ways employers can demonstrate compassion to their workforce during this time of need.

  • MoneyHelper offers free and impartial advice to people who need a hand in managing their finances
  • Through the Citizens Advice web chat anyone can receive confidential, impartial advice about debt or money worries
  • For employees who would prefer to speak to someone directly, StepChange Debt Charity offers expert debt advice and fee-free debt management help over the phone. They can be reached by calling 0800 138 1111

As well as the above, be sure to remind your employees, if they’re covered, that their employee assistance programme (EAP) gives them access to confidential counselling with an experienced professional, and likewise if your employees are covered under a group risk policy.

Employees who underutilise their cash plans may also find some much-needed financial relief in what cash plans can offer. Employees with cash plans can receive a portion of the money they spend on essential health maintenance costs back, such as opticians’ costs, dental care, physiotherapy, and chiropractor treatment.


1. Employer News :Rising living costs are driving a workplace mental health crisis. Here’s how HR leaders can help
2. Employer News :More than a third of workers in the UK consider changing jobs to combat the rising cost of living
3. Financial-Wellbeing-report-v1.2-1.pdf (

Read more

How to make sure you are not overinsured or underinsured

As inflation hits, it's never been more important to check the rebuild cost of your property. The website assesses more than 2,000 commercial properties every year, from shops and hotels to offices and factories. Their data shows that more than 85% are not insured for the right amount.

The implications of not having the right level of protection in place could be devastating. This is why we are encouraging you to rightsize your insurance by checking your property rebuild cost.



What are the risks of not having your property covered for the right amount?

There are two main risks when it comes to not being correctly insured. The first is over-insurance.

This affects almost 20% of commercial properties and is where you're actually covered for more than your property is valued at.

It's certainly better to be overinsured than under (more of that below), but it does mean you're likely to be paying more for your insurance every year than you need to be.

The other risk is underinsurance, and this can have far more devastating consequences.

How an average clause works

Most insurance policies have an ‘average clause’. Let's say your property is insured for £1,000,000, but the actual cost to rebuild should be £2,000,000.

Here, any insurance claim you make for the property could be reduced by 50%. In this example you would need to find £1,000,000 of your own money to cover the cost of rebuilding your property following a major incident, such as a fire that completely destroys your building.

In the far more likely scenario of partial damage you may need to claim, say, £500,000 but as you are only insuring the property for half of what it is worth you will only be able to claim half of the loss, in this case £250,000.

What is the solution to the risks of not having your property covered for the right amount?

It is widely encouraged that you should undertake a full property rebuild valuation at least every three years.

However, in times such as now, where the UK is facing the highest levels of inflation seen in over 40 years, coupled with supply chain challenges causing materials to treble or quadruple in price, there's never been a more important time to review your cover and ensure it is sufficient to protect you should the worst happen.


Underinsurance is still incredibly common (whether in times of crisis or not). Learn more about it, its dangers and how to avoid it by visiting Towergate Insurance Brokers’ underinsurance hub.

Read more

Latest news from the insurers

Have you heard the latest from the insurers?

Here are the most recent updates from some of the key providers, including Aviva, AXA, Bupa, Simplyhealth, and Vitality.




30 May 2022 – Ramping up: repairs, renovations and recycling

Millions of households are turning to repairs and renovations rather than replacements, a new study reveals.

23 May 2022 – £1.1bn in individual protection claims helped more than 53,700 customers and families in 2021

The figure was paid out across individual critical illness, life insurance and income protection policies, with 98.1% of all claims received being settled.


19 May 2022 – More than half of Brits say they admire hard-working small business owners but are too scared to take the plunge themselves

AXA says that the top advice small business owners would give others looking to follow in their footsteps would be to simply believe in themselves and to learn from their mistakes.

6 May 2022 – Average UK home contains nearly £30k of possessions, but many people risk being underinsured

According to AXA, only a third of consumers have complete understanding of what their home insurance does and doesn’t cover.


27 May 2022 – Bupa UK enhances dental insurance benefits to support employee health and wellbeing

Bupa UK is enhancing its dental insurance products to help businesses provide their people with improved access to affordable dental care.

16 May 2022 – UK may take years to recover from long-tail impact of the pandemic

Sedentary lifestyles, missed medical appointments and the broader health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic may take the UK years to recover from. That’s according to the new Bupa Wellbeing Index, a landmark survey conducted amongst 8,000 UK adults that has uncovered the state of the nation’s health and wellbeing.


26 May 2022 – Simplyhealth makes second significant investment of 2022 by taking stake in Ampersand Health

Simplyhealth has announced it has invested in Ampersand, provider of digital therapies for inflammatory conditions. Simplyhealth says that this collaboration will help accelerate the adoption of digital therapeutics in the UK.

5 May 2022 – Simplyhealth takes majority stake in OcuPlan

Simplyhealth has announced it is taking a majority stake in OcuPlan, the country’s top provider of predictive and preventative eye care packages.


26 May 2022 – Vitality releases health insurance cancer claims data for 2021

The data, which forms part of Vitality’s upcoming Health Claims Insights Report, looks at all claims for cancer made in 2021. The data also reveals, for the first time, how a person's level of physical activity correlates to their survival after a cancer diagnosis.

17 May 2022 – Financial security of business owners at risk as more than a third admit they have no protection in place

New research from Vitality has highlighted how business owners are putting their livelihoods at risk by not having business protection cover in place to protect their business should a key employee be unable to work.

Read more