Insurer AIG Life has hit a milestone with its customer value-added wellbeing service as thousands of people make use of the support package that comes with their life insurance including a doctor’s appointment.

The insurer announced on Friday 30 June that it has delivered on its Smart Health over 53,000 phone and video GP appointments from its launch to the end of April 2023.

Customers and their immediate families, who may themselves not be insured with AIG, have benefited from the free service.

AIG’s Smart Health service, which was launched in August 2019, comes at no extra cost to help people manage their wellbeing remotely.

It provides everyone who has life, critical illness and income protection insurance including existing policyholders and members of employee benefits or group protection schemes, 24/7 access to services that help manage their wellbeing.

The six integrated services – GP, mental health counselling, second medical opinion, nutrition and fitness programs plus an online health check – are delivered by Teladoc Health through the Smart Health app and can be used anytime, from anywhere in the world.

AIG Life’s customers and their immediate families have used Smart Health services 85,000 times since launch – 35,000 times in 2022 alone – and more than one in three patients (37%) have used it for more than three times.

The insurer said customers are consistently turning to it, and that virtual GP appointments are the most popular service in part because of the next stage of assistance they provide.

By the end of April 2023, almost half (47%) of people attending Smart Health GP appointments also got a prescription, sick note, or a referral to a medical specialist.

Using a Smart Health virtual GP appointment instead of turning to their doctor first meant 55% of people were able to stay at home, helping to ease pressure on the NHS, according to a survey of Smart Health users conducted by Teladoc Health.

Where they needed additional assistance, 13% said they used their appointment to get a referral with a specialist, and 8% then visited A&E. Less than one in four (24) said they then booked an appointment with their own GP.

The same survey found that if patients had not turned to the UK-registered GPs available through Smart Health, almost a fifth of people (19%) would have waited until they got worse before they asked for help.

It helped people return to work sooner too. A third (33%) who were absent from work said, in the Teladoc research, they were able to get through their illness swifter following a phone or video consultation with a Smart Health GP.

AIG Life Smart Health proposals manager Alison Esson said: “What seems to appeal is that the insured customer, as well as their partners and children who are not themselves insured, can get immediate medical help or set their mind at ease if something goes wrong .

“It allows them to take preventative steps that can help look after their long-term health, and can help ease pressure on our NHS, without people picking up extra living costs. In some cases, seeking professional assistance early has helped saved people’s lives. So, it’s worth financial advisers reminding clients of the extra services they have access to – whoever their insurer is.”