Group protection claim payouts have risen at Legal & General, with 97 per cent paid out in 2016, latest figures have revealed.
According to the stats, this was a 1 percentage point increase on 2015, when claims paid stats for group protection were at 96 per cent.
This equated to a total of £264m paid in all group protection claims - a rise on 2015, when the total figure was £235m.
The top cause of claims for the FTSE 100 insurer was still mental health issues, which have remained at the top of the list since 1999, far above other claims such as back injury or stroke. They accounted for 33 per cent of new claims in 2016, up from 30 per cent in 2015.
As a result, Legal & General is developing a major initiative to encourage more open conversations about mental health in the workplace.
Vanessa Sallows, benefits and governance director at Legal & General’s Group Protection, said: "Mental health continues to be the main reason for absences on our group income protection.
"We know that earlier treatment makes an earlier return to work more likely so it’s thrilling to see over a third of people taking advantage of the flexibility provided by our new digital mental health treatments."
Legal & General's group protection policies, which include specialist intervention, have enabled staff to have therapy treatments, helping to get employees back to work. L&G has arranged and paid for over 5,100 psychological and physiotherapy treatments in 2016.
Ms Sallows added that employers, advisers and providers should talk about mental health "as freely as we discuss physical health".
Key highlights from the Legal & General group claims statistics:
- Legal & General paid 2,949 group protection claims worth a total of £264m in 2016. This was 12 per cent more than in 2015.
- It paid 95 per cent of new group income protection claims in 2016. This represents an annual benefit of £20m being paid to 838 claimants, and an increase on 2015’s figure of £14m.
- Overall, the insurer paid 97 per cent of group protection claims received and at an average rate equivalent to £5.1m a week.
- Legal & General paid 99 per cent of group life claims in 2016 and a total of £234m was paid to 1,964 claimants, up 10% on 2015’s figure of £213m.
- Legal & General paid 81 per cent of group critical Illness claims in 2016, up from 76 per cent in 2015. Over £10m was paid to 147 claimants, a 30 per cent increase on 2015’s figure of £7.9m.
In April, claims for insurer Vitality also showed a high payout ratio for individual life insurance claims. According to the provider, it paid out on 99 per cent of 2016's life insurance claims.
While applauding high levels of payouts across the insurance industry as a whole, commentators have suggested the way in which claims stats are produced should be more standardised.
Earlier this year, insurance commentators told FTAdviser claims needed to be disclosed in a more standardised fashion across the protection industry, to improve clarity for clients and enable brokers to carry out proper comparisons.
Phil Hull, propositions and portals manager for Holloway Friendly, commented on the three methodologies used: the Association of British Insurers (ABI) method, which includes all claims in payment regardless of the year in which the claim was made; the Friendly Society method, which only includes claims made in the relevant year; and the All Claims Counted method, which also only includes claims made in the relevant year but also includes more types of declined claims.
He said the result of these three methods when applied to claims disclosure was that the headline figures for all three could be vastly different.
For example, for Holloway Friendly, the claims stats for 2016 would be 98 per cent for the ABI method, 96 per cent for the Friendly Society method and 90 per cent for All Claims Counted.