A total of £1.4bn was paid out in claims during 2015 - representing more than a 10% increase on 2014 according to industry data compiled by Group Risk Development (GRiD).
There was also an increase in all benefits paid out - group life policies paid out an increase of £130.1m, group income protection policies paid out an increase of £9m and group critical illness policies paid out an increase of £5.9m.
GRiD's data also revealed that 1,878 people were able to go back to work during 2015 due to active early intervention from insurers such as fast track access to counselling or physiotherapy.
For the first time, the average claim amount forgroup life has gone over £100k, with the average claim at £111,055.
The main cause of claim across all three products was cancer - unchanged from last year with the highest for group critical illness (69%), followed by group life (47%) and group income protection (24%).
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said "These figures bring a truly unique insight into the collective contribution the group risk industry makes to supporting British families. The fact that 1,878 people were helped back to work within 6 months also clearly demonstrates the value that insurers add beyond the pure payment of claims.
"Employers are not obliged to provide any of these benefits, but by doing so they make a major contribution towards protecting employees and their families against the financial consequences of death or prolonged disability. Through this, they also ultimately benefit wider society by reducing the welfare burden.
"The main causes for claims are also interesting and can help dictate where support might be focused. For instance preventative care and screening can play an important role in the detection and treatment of cancer and heart disease: two of the main reasons for claiming.
"In addition, there is a wealth of support available within group risk products for mental health. We would encourage early utilisation of all group risk services to make the most of the support available."
Only 57% of employers believe employees understand their benefits, GRiD research reveals
Study by Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA)
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