As the UK eases most of its coronavirus restrictions, the successful vaccine rollout means that the numbers dying from Covid-19 have fallen significantly.
However, the emerging problem of “long Covid” is affecting thousands of people across the country.
According to an estimate from the Office for National Statistics in May, 1.1 million people in the UK were reporting long Covid symptoms in the four weeks to 6 March 2021. Some other studies, such as June research from Imperial College London, suggest that more than two million people could be suffering from long Covid.
This debilitating illness can affect you in a range of ways. Read on to find out what long Covid is, how it could adversely affect your finances, and how financial protection could help.
What is “long Covid”?
Long Covid is a term to describe the effects of Covid-19 that continue for weeks or months beyond the initial illness.
If you’ve had Covid-19, the recovery time is different for everyone. Many people feel better in a few days or weeks, and most will make a full recovery within 12 weeks. However, symptoms can last longer.
The symptoms of long Covid can affect your day-to day life, and many people have been unable to continue with their jobs or have cut back their hours.
According to the NHS, common symptoms of long Covid include:
- Fatigue and tiredness
- A shortness of breath
- Chest pain or tightness, or heart palpitations
- “Brain fog” - problems with memory and concentration
- Difficulty sleeping
- Joint pain
- Depression and anxiety
- Stomach pains, including feeling sick, diarrhoea, and loss of appetite
- A high temperature, cough, headaches, or sore throat
- Changes to sense of smell or taste.
Notably, the chances of developing long Covid does not seem to be linked to how ill you were when you first got Covid-19. People who had mild symptoms at first can still experience long-term health issues.
Research has found that older people, women, and those who had five or more symptoms in the first week of becoming ill with Covid-19 were more likely to develop long Covid. It found that long Covid affects around 10% of 18 to 49-year-olds who get Covid-19, increasing to 22% of people over 70.
Statutory Sick Pay may not be enough to support you
If you end up suffering from long Covid then it can impact on your ability to work. And so, consequently, it could have a significant effect on your financial situation.
Your employer may have a sick pay policy and so you may receive sick pay for a fixed period of time. However, if you’re off for longer than this, or your employer does not have a comprehensive sick pay policy, you may only be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
SSP currently pays out £96.35 per week, for up to 28 weeks. At this point, or if you don’t qualify for SSP, you can apply for Universal Credit or the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), if you’re eligible.
Of course, SSP is substantially lower than the average wage in the UK, which is around £500 per week. Could you continue to maintain your lifestyle on £96.35 per week?
How income protection could help
If you want to protect yourself against long-term sickness, you could consider taking out income protection. This type of insurance is designed to pay out if you have long Covid or any other type of long-term illness or injury that prevents you from being able to work.
As long as you have significant symptoms, an existing income protection should pay out if you’re unable to work due to long Covid. It should continue to pay out until the policy ends, you go back to work, or you pass away.
If you’re thinking of taking out this sort of cover now, it’s important to consider the small print. If you took out your income protection policy before March 2020, you’re likely to be covered for long Covid.
If you took it out after this date, or you want to take out cover now, you may have to shop around. Some insurers added exclusions into these policies when the pandemic was declared.
If you already have long Covid, most insurers will not cover a pre-existing condition and so will exclude this illness from your policy.
Our experts can help you to find the right income protection policy for you.
Will your Critical Illness cover pay out for long Covid?
Critical Illness cover is designed to pay a lump sum if you’re diagnosed with a serious condition covered by the terms of your policy.
Covid-19, and long Covid, are not generally covered by Critical Illness cover. This means that if you contract long Covid, you typically won’t be able to claim under your Critical Illness cover.
However, if Covid were to lead to a condition that is covered under your policy – such as kidney, liver, heart or respiratory failure – an insurer will typically pay a claim, if it meets the definition in the policy terms and conditions.
Life cover and long Covid
In the UK, more than 130,000 people have sadly passed away due to Covid-19. If you do have life insurance in place, then it’s highly likely that your insurer will pay a claim if you were to pass away from the illness.
Indeed, figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) in spring 2021 revealed that insurers paid £202 million in life insurance claims because of Covid-19 in 2020.
According to the ABI, there were 11,198 claims received under individual and group life insurance policies in 2020, with 96% of individual and 99% of group insurance claims paid.
Meeting your financial commitments through other sources
If you contract long Covid and have to take time off work, insurance is not the only solution.
For example, if you have an income from another source, such as a partner’s salary, or you have an emergency fund that you have set aside for precisely this sort of situation, you could use these to supplement your income if you’re unable to work.
However, you could quickly deplete your savings. For example, if you or your partner have long Covid and are too ill to look after your children, you may have to pay for additional childcare on top of losing one salary.
Simply, if you work and your outgoings are more the SSP amount of £96.35 per week, you should consider the value of protection to you and your loved ones.
Get the cover you need at a great price
If you’re concerned that you couldn’t continue to pay your mortgage, rent, or other monthly commitments if you had to take an extended period off work, it’s time to look at putting some protection in place.
We can also help you find low-cost life insurance to protect your loved ones if the worst were to happen.
- Compare life insurance, Critical Illness cover and other types of financial protection from the UK's most reputable providers, including Aviva, Royal London, and LV=
- The service you’ll get from I’m Insured is fast, free, and secure
- Our experts have wide experience and can help you find specialist life insurance cover
- We’ll compare cheap life insurance quotes to find you the best price for the cover you’re looking for
- We can help you get cover if you have pre-existing medical conditions.
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