During Dying Matters week, 14 – 20 May 2018, Group Risk Development (Grid) is addressing what it sees as being wrongly held perceptions that someone’s family would not receive a pay-out should their loved one take their own life. Dying Matters week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of issues relating to death, dying and bereavement.
In the UK, around 6,000 people die by suicide each year, leaving a great number of families devastated by their loss. GLA helps families avoid financial hardship – the average pay-out for a GLA claim during 2017 was £113,479 – and can also provide bereavement and other support.
Grid says that by dispelling the myths around group life and suicide, employers may see GLA as a more comprehensive product than they may have originally thought, and that more will consider offering the benefit to their staff.
Grir points to the extra help and support for employees and their families, often via an employee assistance programme (EAP), which can be a great support for mental health issues and in the prevention of suicide and attempted suicide.
Support may also be provided for the managers within the organisation around issues such as managing staff with mental health conditions and supporting staff coming to terms with a bereavement.
Some insurance providers now also give access to a vast array of online tools, portals and hubs aimed at improving mental resilience and giving advice and guidance to employers and line managers. Often these can be freely available online for anyone to access, customer or not. Group life assurance typically costs less than half a per cent of payroll.
Some individual life policies will not pay out if the suicide happens within the first 12 months of the policy being taken out. However, this exclusion does not apply to group life cover.
Aon Employee Benefits Warwick managing directorDave Middleton, who is a chair of one of GRiD’s committees, has had personal experience of a family death by suicide.
He said: “When someone close to you dies suddenly in this way, you experience a rollercoaster of emotions and it can take some time for life to return to anything that you recognise as normal. During this time, life’s costs and bills accumulate and can become an enormous source of stress for the grieving family if there is no financial plan in place to deal with them. Financial support from an insurance pay-out not only helps cover funeral costs but can also give family members the financial breathing space to come to terms with their loss over a period of time, without immediately having to return to work to maintain an income.
“Group life assurance is a really accessible product with low premiums that employers should be confident in offering to staff knowing that it has more hidden benefits and fewer exemptions than is often presumed.”
Any organisation considering redistributing this story is referred to the Samaritan’s media guidelines for reporting suicide.
Canada Life Group Insurance marketing director Paul Avis says: “We find between 20 and 25 per cent of calls to our employee assistance programme are to do with mental health issues. Employers should also be aware of the availability of critical incident services. If there is an incident of suicide in the workplace, employers can pay to have a psychologist on site to do a debriefing session for the remaining staff. This contributes to the health and safety obligations of the employer.”