October 19, 2020
Helping you live a healthier life
With fall now in full swing, Sun Life continues to evolve our business and benefits solutions to meet the many emerging challenges we all face. We’ve continued to put measures in place to support the health of you and your plan members.
Back to school – a focus on mental health
A new school year always brings excitement, but the transition this year has arrived with additional stresses. That’s made potential mental health issues front and centre. We wanted to ensure that mental health resources were front and centre as well.
Our webinar from Lumino Health, “This year’s back-to-school conversations,” offers guidance on navigating the back-to-school transition. Our resource sheet is a great reminder of the Sun Life and other mental health resources available for both children and parents.
We’ve also taken two other steps to help students stay healthy:
- Extending over-age student coverage. Some schools in Canada remain closed and some programs aren’t restarting this fall. For eligible over-age students, we’re extending our over-age student coverage from September 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020.
- Coverage for students studying abroad. Some plan members may have a dependent who is, or will be, studying abroad.
- Students with an approved extension. If we’ve approved a request for an extension of medical emergency coverage, we’ll continue to honour their extension. We outlined the coverage period in their approval letter from us.
- Students without an approved extension. These students have coverage for the trip duration limit outlined in the contract. For now, we’re not extending coverage beyond the trip duration limit. This is due to various travel advisories from the Government of Canada.
Speech from the Throne
Sun Life supports the federal government’s continued focus on pharmacare. We continue to endorse a blended public and private payer model that enables access to affordable medicines for all Canadians. We’re also pleased to see government support for mental health and virtual care.
Continued access to care
COVID-19 cases have begun to increase this fall, and access to care remains a critical concern. We’ve taken several steps to ensure plan members continue to gain access to the care they need.
- Extending health and dental admin exceptions. We’ve extended our waiver of certain health and dental admin requirements for another three months, to December 31, 2020.
This means we’ll keep paying claims up to December 31, 2020 that would normally require additional documentation. This includes signatures, referrals, or laboratory information for claims where we had information on file that has expired. For example:
- Prescriptions or doctor referrals for paramedical services
- Drug exception forms, which includes prior authorization and special authorization
- Provincial Specialty drug program responses or documentation
We currently plan to reinstate our usual requirements on January 1, 2021. But we’ll let you know if we need to extend the date again.
- Accepting claims prescribed by a nurse practitioner. Several months ago, we made a temporary change to our administrative practices. We began covering costs associated with specialist referrals and prescriptions for medical supplies and equipment from nurse practitioners.
We’ve now made this change permanent with an amendment to our Extended Health Care (EHC) contract wording. We’ll treat certain nurse practitioner prescriptions as if they were prescribed or ordered by a doctor, subject to provincial laws.
- Virtual care – easy onboarding and registration. We launched Lumino Health Virtual Care to our EHC Clients earlier this year. As of September 30, 2020, this solution is available to all our Clients, including those without an EHC plan. It’s already helped thousands of our Clients. They can quickly access the medical care they need from the safety and convenience of their own homes.
For more information, visit sunlife.ca/gbvirtualcare. Virtual care doesn’t replace the role of a family doctor. However, it’s proven to be a critical primary care support for thousands of plan members.
We’re here for you
The impacts of the pandemic remain dynamic – and we remain ready to innovate as circumstances change. Our promise to support you and your employees is unwavering. And collectively, we can all make a difference in helping Canadians live healthier lives.
Stay safe and be well!
Sun Life is operating with an abundance of care to limit the spread of COVID-19 amongst our employees – and the world around us. Our top priority is the health and well-being of our employees, Clients, advisors, consultants and communities.
We are monitoring the global developments related to COVID-19 and adjusting our processes, practices and procedures as the situation evolves.
We want to ensure we continue to deliver for you, our Clients. We know that you need us now, more than ever. We will provide regular updates on this page to help keep you informed.
- Updated Disability Practices during COVID-19 Pandemic
- Back to school: Mental health resources at a glance
- Start your strategy for employee mental health: Free video
- Helping you share the value of Lumino Health Virtual Care with your plan members
We've built our business on managing risks like economic changes
As the world responds to the COVID-19 health and financial crisis, we know there are many questions about where Sun Life stands financially. We’ve built the foundation of our business on managing risks that may happen due to economic changes. We also have 155 years worth of experience to back it up.
Sun Life is resilient.
The best measurement of Sun Life’s financial strength is through our:
- Capital position
- Risk framework
- Financial strength ratings
- Strong earnings performance and payment of dividends out of these earnings
You can feel comforted during this difficult time knowing:
We’re in a very strong capital position We have a healthy level of capital to meet our financial commitments to Clients.
- The Life Insurance Capital Adequacy Test (LICAT) ratio measures a company’s ability to meet its obligations. It’s one of several indicators used by Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) to assess an insurer’s financial condition. The minimum required is 90%. Sun Life’s LICAT ratio is 143%– well above the minimum.
- We have a diversified business. With multiple product lines and services and operations around the world, we’re a diverse organization.
- This helps us prevent over-exposure in any one market or region.
- This diversity is also important to ongoing success, especially during challenging economic times.
- We're leading in financial ratings. We’re proud to say that Sun Life’s ratings as a public life insurance company are amongst the best in North America. Our best in class ratings show Sun Life’s risk practices and strong financial flexibility.
Business Continuity and Pandemic plans
At Sun Life, we are monitoring global developments related to coronavirus very closely. We are following the guidance of trusted global agencies, as well as medical experts within Sun Life. We are taking precautionary measures with our own employees in order to minimize any potential risk of disruption to servicing our Clients.
Our enterprise-wide business continuity policy governs business continuity (including pandemic planning) and disaster recovery planning for critical business functions performed at all our major business locations. The focus of our plans is to protect the health and safety of our employees, mitigate business and operational disruptions for our Clients and carry out our regulatory and contractual obligations in a responsible manner. The business continuity plan is flexible and can be adapted to a wide range of events.
Our approach includes building contingency plans founded on “all hazards” crisis management, business continuity, and disaster recovery services including support from vital external service providers and external business partners. Response plans include pandemic, facility outages, systems, power outages, etc.
Disaster recovery plans include offsite recovery and back-up data storage facilities. We also employ a dual recovery strategy which includes redirecting work and/or staff amongst multiple sites, or having staff work-from-home where possible. In some circumstances elements of our recovery plan include participation of major third party service providers. These elements are governed by contracts which include service level agreements.
Overall coordination, guidance and compliance monitoring for business continuity across Sun Life is a centralized function, and a crisis management team comprised of senior management across Sun Life with support teams for Human Resources, Legal and Compliance, Communications, Information Technology and Facilities, is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the business continuity and recovery activities.
Our business continuity policy requires all business continuity plans to be tested at a minimum on an annual basis.
Information for plan members
We have launched a dedicated page for plan members at sunlife.ca/covid-19 that we will continually update with the latest information.
How to stay up-to-date on COVID-19
- Visit the Government of Canada website for general information about COVID-19 in Canada.
- Visit Canada’s Economic Response plan for more information about the Government’s economic response to COVID-19 plan.
- Visit Employment Insurance benefits and leave, for more information about employment insurance benefits, including information about the impacts of COVID-19.
You can also visit the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) website for industry-related information.