The group risk industry paid a record £1.76bn amount in claims during 2019.
New data published by Group Risk Development (Grid) showed that the total claims paid in 2019 rose by £75m when compared to the year before.
The main cause of claims was for cancer.
The statistics show that a total of 26,433 families received financial help under one of these policies. This includes the 5,248 employees were helped back to work after a period of sick leave.
However there were a total of 74,707 “interactions” with group risk policies during 2019, which includes those using the support services that are funded by insurers, without necessarily making a claim.
Of these interactions, 37 per cent involved access to counselling and 12 per cent were related to family issues and 12 per cent to employment matters.
Grid says these various figures shows employers were increasingly using the range of group risk policies to provide financial and emotional support to employees and their families.
Most claims were paid under group life assurance policies. these paid out total benefits of £1.171 billion in 2019, an increase of £53.7 million on the previous year.
Group income protection policies paid out a total of £492.98 million — an increase of £10.28 million when compared with 2018). Meanwhile group critical illness policies paid out benefits totalling £93.6 million — an increase of £11.2 million on the year before.
The average new claim amount during the year was £125,762 for group life; £26,430 a year for group income protection and £69,411 for group critical illness.
Grid says this is evidence that these benefits should not just be seen as perks for the higher paid but that they throw a vital financial lifeline to people regardless of their salary, age or position.
Grid has captured details of the cases where the insurer supported a return to work with active early intervention before the employee was eligible for a monetary payment. (This include fast-track access to counselling or physiotherapy, funded by the insurer.)
In total 3,415 people – 34.7 per cent of all claims submitted – where able to go back to work during 2019 because of such early intervention. This figure though is down slightly on 2018.
Of those who received this help, 57 per cent had help to overcome a mental illness and 13 per cent had support overcoming a musculoskeletal condition.
Grid spokesperson Katharine Moxham says: “As always, it’s great to be able to bring these numbers to life and to show the value of group risk benefits for employers, HR professionals, line managers and their people.
“The group risk industry has again demonstrated that it supports people through the most difficult of times, giving financial, emotional and practical help to employees and their families when they need it most.
“2019 was a year of political uncertainty but creating supportive workplaces and closing the disability employment gap continues to feature on the government’s agenda. Group risk protection products can specifically help with this as the embedded support services that come with them can give employers a way of extending the help they can give to their people, especially for mental health.”