Group IP: The numbers are on the up

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As the number of people with group income protection rises, Thomas Smith looks at how the industry is faring.

Additional benefits

In the meantime, insurers are working to make their products more attractive by offering additional benefits to employees.

One of the most popular categories of additional benefit is medical, since medical help can improve the chances of someone who is injured returning to work. While the government offers the Fit for Work service, employers can also offer services through their insurer.

The smaller companies taking up IP will grow over the next few years as they start to introduce workplace benefits for the very first time

Potterton said: "The trends are moving towards insurers becoming more useful to employers in the prevention and intervention space, rather than just simply being benefits payers.

"Everyone is upping their game, whether it's a well-being theme or trying to make ourselves more relevant, tangible and real to our employers that we insure.

"We at Unum are putting more and more effort into this. But it is happening elsewhere too, in seeing what we can do to put services on the table that will actually prevent people going sick if they don't need to, for example.

"Rehabilitation has been around for such a long time now - that's the intervention piece, but there are other sorts of intervention that can go on and we are expanding that here.

"There are things going on now that are outside the contract (if you will), don't cost the employers anymore but are relevant and necessary to make sure we all get our well-being story right."

Morgan said of sickness absence: "One of the big trends is focussing on how as insurers we can help, get to those absentees as early as possible.

"Quite a few insurers talk about early intervention as really important to help people back to work, stop them becoming a long-time claim obviously to the benefit of the employee and the employer.

"What we're focusing on quite heavily is the process just before that in terms of helping employers to manage absence, and get the absentee straight from the employer to our case manager."

Bridger said that the trends in added benefits and the focus on well-being could mean a redefinition of insurance in future: "The trends are starting to become more propositional than just terms and conditions-based contracts.

"The evolution of rehabilitation at the core is still a financial product. It's still insurance, but I guess the trend is starting that there will be some redefinition of the proposition.

"It is effectively becoming the private sector's answer to the government's direction of increasing self-provision, increasing return to work and reducing reliance on benefits.

"It is effectively meaning that the market's invested in, engaged with and is leading on. You can't find better capability in the public sector in return-to-work capability, early intervention, triage and actual successful outcomes."

He added: "It is not just about how much we pay in benefits. It is not just about how we protect corporate risk. It is about how we keep people in work, or get them back to work then keep them in work."

A combination of private medical insurance (PMI) and GIP could combine some of the existing services offered with GIP schemes with extra benefits. Kerr suggested: "I've always thought, why has a PMI insurer and an income protection insurer never come together? You look at Aviva and you think ‘Could you not come up with a combined product offering here?' They are one of the few ones that could actually do it."

Further reading:

Marsh acquires Jelf for £258m

A call for action over income protection

REVEALED: One-third of all long-term workplace absences caused by cancer

 

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