The headline figure for total payouts rose by £120m, to £1.6bn paid out in claims in 2017, but a change in the way group income protection figures are reported accounted for £79m of the increase, according to Grid. Grid previously took a snapshot of claims in payment at the end of the year but now includes claims starting and stopping in the same year. Group income protection policies paid out a total of £466.5m, an increase of £107.8m, or 30 per cent, on 2016, £79m of which was down to the new accounting approach.
The figures show that 4,944 people were helped back to work after a period of sick leaveand 25,906 UK families were helped to avoid financial hardship after the death, illness, accident or disability of a loved one.
Group life assurance policies paid out total benefits to the value of £1.067bn – on a par with 2016, while group critical illness policies paid out benefits totalling £84.3m, an increase of £12.7m over 2016.
Grid says that the average claim amounts – £113,479 for group life, £24,257 a year for group income protection and £71,463 for group critical illness, demonstrate that benefits are not just being provided to high earners.
The figures show 2,989 people were able to go back to work during 2017 because of early interventions, up 6 per cent on 2016. Of these, 52 per cent had help to overcome mental illness and 17 per cent had support overcoming a musculoskeletal condition.
Grid has for the first time captured details of cases to demonstrate the continuous support in place once a claim is in payment. Of the 5,255 group income protection claims that went into payment during 2016, 1,955 people were helped by the insurer to make a full return to work during that year or during 2017.
Cancer was a main cause of claim across all three products – representing 68 per cent of group critical illness claims, 43 per cent of group life assurance claims and 24 per cent of group income protection claims. Mental illness was marginally the top cause of claim for group income protection claims, representing 24.5 per cent of cases.
Grid spokesperson Katharine Moxham says: “Grid’s latest employer research cites the key reasons why employers provide group risk benefits. These include helping with recruitment and retention/differentiating their company, being able to recoup the costs in improved productivity and team morale, and paternalism.
“Enlightened employers see exactly how group risk benefits and their inherent additional services help with engagement and productivity, support employee wellbeing and enable a business to fulfil its duty of care. They also ensure fair and consistent treatment of people, and can put businesses in a prime position to comply with their role in the Government’s ambitions for healthier and more inclusive workforces.
“One size doesn’t fit all – people’s needs are met when they are treated as individuals. These figures illustrate the very real difference that group risk protection products make to peoples’ lives day in and day out.”
Canada Life Group Insurance marketing director Paul Avis says: “While it is great that Grid has begun to acknowledge the importance of support services, we still have a fundamental problem in getting our messages across. It’s great that a further 700 people were returned to work, above the 2,269 in 2016, but this still represents just 0.12 per cent of the insured population.
“Mental health is an epidemic, representing 24 per cent of all claims. We have evidenced that we can address this through proactive interventions. Advisers should be communicating the benefits of early intervention.”