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17 June 2008
Unum and Canada life, two major income replacement insurance companies, are already seeking to make money out of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) with warnings that claimants will receive less money under ESA.

Insurance website At the same time, websites promoting insurance are warning that benefits claimants will be forced to have ‘unpleasant interviews’ and will be treated with ‘great suspicion’ by the state.

Unum staff were very heavily involved in the creation of the new, much tougher, Work Capability Assessment (WCA) to be introduced as part of ESA in October of this year. The fact that they are now encouraging people to take out insurance, by warning them of how difficult life will be under ESA, is further evidence of the huge conflict of interest involved in income protection insurers helping to make it harder to claim state benefits.

On their website Unum devote a page to state benefits and ask visitors:

‘If you were unable to work because of a long-term illness or injury, how would you survive financially? Most people are surprised when they find out just how little the State provides.’

They go on to contrast current incapacity benefit with ESA, pointing out that under ESA ‘benefits for dependants together with extra payments based on your age have been cut, so you are likely to receive less money than you might otherwise have expected.’

Of the WCA, Unum warn that:

‘The assessment will be rigorous, and benefits will only continue if the individual’s condition is judged severe enough. Payments during this time will be a mere £60.50 a week, or £47.95 for those aged 24 or under.’

Meanwhile, Marion Ware, head of marketing at Canada Life Group Insurance, says: "With the ESA due to come into play in October, those deemed unable to work are likely to be entitled to a smaller benefit allowance."

Privatehealth.co.uk, an insurance comparison site, paint the bleakest picture of how you can expect to be treated if you should be foolish enough to claim benefits:

‘You may expect the state to support you. You may get a small amount of benefit, but may have to go through unpleasant interviews, medical tests and a review of your finances. Sadly, with many fraudulent claimants, the state treats everyone claiming benefit with great suspicion, guilty until proven innocent.

And just in case any of their visitors think that professional status protects them from this kind of humiliation, Privatehealth.co.uk goes on to say that:

‘If you are a specialist tradesperson, or professional, a serious injury may mean that you can work, but not in the profession or type of occupation you were used to. Politicians may dislike the blunt truth, but in the modern world, the state expects you to take any form of work on offer. They may even force you to go on training programmes, before they decide whether or not to give you a handout.’

Insurers, it seems, have a very different view of the Brave New World of ESA and Welfare to Work, than the one being put forward by the DWP.

You can visit Unum’s benefits page here

You can visit Privatehealth.co.uk's income protection page here and their Need for income protection insurance page here.