Group risk is having a moment

  • Describe the importance of group risk
  • Describe the significance of Early Intervention Services in group risk policies
  • List the commercial changes of the group risk market

The GIP claim numbers could have been as high as 18,311 without EIS; in which case mental health would have represented 29 per cent of them. Even in this most complex, emotive area of absence insurers can support many more employers and employees.

Specialist nurses and rehabilitation experts, and the expertise to signpost to pertinent materials and groups, are often overlooked benefits of engaging with insurers and their EIS propositions.

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For the first time, group risk development has reported on the volume of referrals to support services – 7,879 people – showing the growing importance of this aspect of the benefits.

This is only the tip of the iceberg: it excludes self-referrals.

When organisations have access to Employee Assistance Programmes, Second Medical Opinion services, online and phone-based legal services, bereavement and probate helplines, it is clear that the non-traditional service elements of group risk benefits are as important as the financial ones.

The burgeoning utilisation of support services is in no small part due to the efforts of insurance providers, strenuously making their case to advisers.

Beyond EIS, group risk as a whole in the UK is being gradually, but inexorably, changed. Simple, reactive financial payments are unsuitable for the modern workplace.

Employers and employees both are more health-aware and greater emphasis is being placed on flexibility and non-traditional work practices to improve productivity and wellbeing simultaneously.

The cost of insurance is easier to justify to key decision-makers in organisations when there are a wide range of services which can be used day in, day out.

Better still, when those services have demonstrable benefits to the business in terms of improved productivity, reduced sickness absence and associated costs, recruitment and retention support and an evidence-based return on investment model.

All of this taken together positions group risk benefits very differently from how they have previously been seen. Instead of policies taking a back seat in the suite of benefits available until, or unless, something terrible happens, they are becoming true living benefits.

In many cases even employees who are not provided with the financial benefits of a group insurance policy can take advantage of the support services, providing tailored support for virtually any situation life throws at them.

We should expect to pay more claims as the market grows; this almost goes without saying.

It is in the interest of all parties – insurer, adviser, employer and employee – to embrace any tools which can control costs (such as EIS).

Referring to these services as cost-control measures is a cold reality of our business, but it is vital that insurers and employers both remember that at the heart of these services are people doing their jobs.