Industry data compiled by Group Risk Development (GRiD) shows that, once again, employers highly utilised group risk protection (employer-funded life assurance, income protection and critical illness benefits) to provide financial support to employees and their families in 2023.

The group risk industry paid a total of £2.49bn during 2023, an increase of £278.4m compared to 2022.

Return to work:

In addition to financial payment, one of the most valuable benefits of group risk is the support it can provide in helping employees stay in or return to work, and this hit record numbers in 2023. 50.5% of employees who had a period of prolonged sick leave starting in 2023 had returned to work by the end of the year following support from group risk, which includes active early interventions (such as fast-track access to counselling, physiotherapy and other treatment provided by the insurer) access to specialists in serious illness, vocational rehabilitation, mediation and more.

During 2023, 6,299 people who had a period of sick leave starting in 2023, were helped to return to work by the end of 2023. Of these:

  • 4,691 employees were able to go back to work before a claim was made following interventions provided by the insurer.
  • 1,608 employees went on to claim a group income protection (GIP) benefit during 2023 but had returned to work by the end of that year.
  • 7,305 interventions were made within six months of someone’s first absence by group risk insurers during 2023.  Of these, 47% had help to overcome mental illness and 10% had support overcoming a musculoskeletal condition.
  • Over 8,000 people in total were helped by interventions made by group risk insurers during 2023.

In addition, 885 employees who became a new GIP claimant during 2022 had returned to work by the end of 2023.

The huge amount of embedded support within group risk products means all employees can benefit, whether or not a claim is made. Such support is continually enhanced to respond to changing needs, such as providing access to virtual GPs.

This year, GRiD has gathered more comprehensive data on usage rates.  In total, during 2023 employees had over 440,000 interactions with this extra support, provided by group risk insurers, demonstrating that employees are increasingly utilising group risk’s embedded support and deriving value from their employer’s purchase on a daily basis.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD said:

The record numbers of long-term sick is an issue for the UK, and these figures show how group risk  contributes to a solution: employers who offer group risk benefits to their workforce have real and practical help in keeping their employees in work, and helping those who are absent to return.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD

Main causes of claim:

Cancer was the main cause of claim across all three products during 2023. Covid-19 only accounted for 0.5% of group life assurance claims.

Moxham continued:

State provision for the sick and disabled has been becoming harder to get and dwindling for some time: it’s not enough to live on, and those who have to rely on it are the ones who can least afford to. Some employers boost the payments by self-funding, which is expensive. Those employers who make use of group risk benefits have the most affordable way of supporting staff and their families when the worst happens.

* Total number of claims paid (new and existing) during 2023 and value of claims in payment as of 31 December 2023, including any claims paid for part of 2023. Group income protection claims are often paid for several or many years so the ultimate value of these benefits will be much higher.

** During 2023 there were 7,780 new group income protection claims, totalling £211.66m pa and averaging £27,206 pa.

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.