By Jennifer Gilchrist, Product Lead, Design
Imagine the scene: in the build-up to the busiest time of year at Santa Corp. offices, Santa Claus has slipped on the ice and suffered a serious injury.
He’s desperate to get back to work, but the orders from Doctor Elf are firm — no work for at least a few months.
The preparations for Christmas were well on their way; the present wish lists collected, the reindeers fed and trained. But was the North Pole ready for this spanner in the works? How can Christmas be saved now such a key member of staff is out of action?
Unfortunately, injuries and illnesses are a part of life. They can come unexpectedly and could have a significant impact on our work, family and wider circle.
Below are a few things that we can all learn from Santa’s unfortunate tumble to ensure we are prepared should the worst happen:
UK employees who are too ill to work are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, which is £89.35 per week for up to 28 weeks1. However, since some injuries or illnesses can result in a longer period of time away from work, it’s important to consider how you’d cover basic living costs, and also Statutory Sick Pay is unlikely to cover any unexpected bills or payments.
Income protection insurance could have helped to reduce unnecessary financial concern during an already stressful time for the Claus family. This type of insurance provides financial cover, in the form of a monthly payment, when someone is unable to work due to injury or ill health. Our research for our ‘State of the Protection Nation’ report earlier this year found that just 4 per cent of adults surveyed had an income protection policy2. This means many people could be financially exposed should they be forced to take time off work due to illness or injury.
Consider their dependents
Santa’s injury means he cannot walk, so Mrs Claus may have to take time off from looking after the reindeer and supervising the elves to care for her husband. If a family member or close friend has to take time off work to care for your client, this will increase the financial pressure on their family. With these knock-on effects, it’s even more essential that Santa has plans in place to ensure he and his family are protected and can afford to continue paying the costs of day-to-day life in the North Pole.
Our critical illness research showed that among people who had cared for someone with an illness, more than half (54 per cent) had had to take some time off or reduce their own working hours as a result3. It’s important that your clients consider not only the financial implications of being ill and unable to work but also how they’ll manage the everyday tasks they may no longer be able to carry out.
Make plans for your business
Santa is self-employed and runs his own (non-profit) business. With Santa written off for a few months, the success of the company depends on who can step up to the plate and fill his boots. Our new business protection research shows that over half of all British SMEs don’t protect their businesses against the loss of a key employee — mainly through lack of awareness4.
Key Person Income Protection covers this situation by providing a monthly income while the key employee is unavailable to work and offers support in the search for a replacement. Santa is unique, and unlike other organisations does not have the luxury of a ready-made replacement waiting in the wings. The elves are diligent workers, and toy-making experts, but none have passed their sleigh-driving exam and the sight of a chimney fills them with dread. With the proper insurance in place the toy factory would be able to continue and the elves would have support in their search for a (hopefully temporary) replacement.
As we know, the Claus family are normally meticulous planners — every detail of Christmas is planned months in advance and Santa delivers the presents on a strict house-by-house timescale. However, even if you drive a magic sleigh there are always things that can go wrong, and health is no exception.
Taking the time to think and plan for changes to your clients’ health now, while not the most festive activity, can ensure that even if disaster does strike they’ll have the right financial cover and support in place.
1 – www.gov.uk, December 2017
2 -State of the Protection Nation, Royal London, March 2017 (2,000 nationally representative UK adults aged over 18)
3 – Critical illness research, Royal London, June 2017 (3,004 nationally representative UK adults aged over 18)
4 – YouGov Plc, SME Online Omnibus for Royal London. Total sample size was 732 senior decision makers in GB SMEs (1-249 employees). Fieldwork: 21-30 August 2017