Employers utilised group risk protection to provide financial support to a huge number of employees and their families during 2021.
According to industry data compiled by Group Risk Development (GRiD), total of £2.22bn was paid out by the group risk industry during 2021, an increase of £208.4 million on 2020 figures.
In total 6,113 employees were helped back to work after a period of sick leave and there were 220,886 interactions during 2021 with additional help and support services funded by group risk insurers.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said: “The statistics categorically show that group risk benefits (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness) really are some of the most valued benefits that employers can offer: financially, practically and emotionally.”
Group life assurance policies paid out total benefits to the value of £1.57 billion (an increase of £198.47 million on 2020 figures); group income protection policies paid out a total of £546.1 million (a decrease of £4.72 million compared with 2020); group critical illness policies paid out benefits totalling £106.3 million (an increase of £14.7 million on 2020 figures).
GRiD said the average new claim amounts (£116,414 for group life; £28,977 p.a. for group income protection; £73,089 for group critical illness) evidence the fact that these benefits should not just be seen as perks for the higher paid, as they throw a vital financial lifeline to all people regardless of their salary, age or position.
For group income protection, as well as the claims paid, there are a material number of cases each year where employees are helped back to work both before and after a claim becomes payable, often with the support of the insurer, the employer or both.
GRiD has captured details of the cases where the insurer supported a return to work with active early intervention (such as fast-track access to counselling or physiotherapy, funded by the insurer) before that employee was eligible for a monetary payment. 4,395 people (45.3% of all claims submitted, up by 13.5% compared to 2020) were able to go back to work during 2021 because of such early intervention (of which, 54% had help to overcome mental illness and 10% had support overcoming a musculoskeletal condition).
GRiD has again captured details of cases to demonstrate that once a claim is in payment, help and support back to work is still given and employees are not forgotten. Of the new group income protection claims that went into payment during 2020, 1,718 people were helped by the insurer to make a full return to work by the end of 2021.
Moxham added: “The figures show the extent of the holistic support offered via group risk benefits: in the event of death, serious illness, prevention, early intervention and rehabilitation. It’s no wonder that an increasing number of employers are offering these to their workforces, and not just among large corporates, but SME and micro-SMEs too.”