Zurich has paid out 91 per cent of all claims from its group income protection policies across the UK, the insurer has said.
According to the latest claims statistics, the average annual benefits to workers covered by a Zurich group income protection (GIP) plan was £26,000.
Over the same period, rehabilitation support provided to those employees covered by the GIP helped many return to work, meaning they did not need to claim on their workplace policy.
The insurer reported that approximately half of all absences notified to Zurich did not progress to the claim payment stage.
This was because a large proportion of employees recovered and returned to work before the end of the policy’s deferred period, and approximately 40 per cent did so as a result of rehabilitation support provided as part of the Zurich GIP policy.
Mental illness was the trigger for 28 per cent of claims, followed by 26 per cent for cancer, and 14 per cent for musculoskeletal claims such as back problems or arthritis.
More than 60 per cent of those who successfully returned to work before the end of the deferred period as a result of rehabilitation had been suffering with a mental illness, the insurer said.
Nick Homer, head of market management, corporate risk at Zurich UK, said: "This is the second year we’ve shared our group income protection claims information and we hope that by doing so, we show how much value these benefits can deliver to businesses, their employees and the wider economy."
He pointed to research done in 2015 by independent economist Kyla Malcolm, whose Income Protection and Rehabilitation – Working Together report showed this value to the economy equated to more than £16 for every £1 spent.
Zurich’s team of in-house health professionals (including nurses and physiotherapists) support employees with tailored return to work programmes and arrange medical treatment to aid recovery, where appropriate.
Mr Homer added: "We encourage employers to engage with us as early as possible, because we have the expertise to support employees when they need us.
"Our early intervention and longer term support can have an enormous impact on recovery rates, particularly for conditions such as mental illness."
Over the same period, 99 per cent of group life claims were paid. Where a minority of GIP claims were not accepted, the insurer said it was because the employee did not meet the definition of illness or disability on the policy.
For example, this may have been where medical evidence showed that employees were able to return to work or if the absence was not a result of their own illness or injury.
Earlier this month, FTAdviser reported on protection sales data from Iress' online comparison quote and transaction portal The Exchange.
This revealed a rise in new protection business during the first half of 2018, with 360,693 protection new business applications made, compared with 295,699 over the same period in 2017.