GRiD (Group Risk Development) – the group representing the group risk industry – released some startling research last month. It’s research that I think warranted more widespread coverage than it received.
They surveyed UK businesses about how they go about promoting the group risk benefits that are available to staff. Worryingly, 1 in 10 said that they ‘make a point of not communicating their group risk benefits to ensure they are not abused’. As GRiD points out, it is actually pretty difficult to abuse these types of benefits. I mean, what exactly are these businesses expecting their staff to do – fake their own death to get a pay out? In 2015, as an industry, we paid 99.9% of group life claims to the value of just shy of £1bn. Claims are investigated when necessary so there isn’t much sign of the system being abused there.
GRiD also go on to say that by not letting employees know about group risk benefits, they are also unaware of the added value services such as employee assistance programmes, second medical opinion services and online health assessments. Why would you not want employees to know that if they are having a problem – at work or at home – then there is access to counselling and support?
I was also surprised to see that only 16% of employers issue regular communications about their benefits package. Again – I find that odd. It costs money to offer group life, critical illness or income protection policies to staff, so why wouldn’t you tell people about it? Salary is almost always the number one benefit that employees are interested in, but knowing they are entitled to some financial protection should they become ill or worse, should provide them with at least a little bit of comfort.
The findings from GRiD’s survey were not all doom and gloom though. Thirty per cent of employers said they do give details of group risk protection benefits in their employee benefit statements. This is a great way to show exactly what an employee is getting from the business they work for and often include pension contributions as well. And 38% said they clearly lay out their benefits on their intranet or in their staff handbook, normally the first place someone will go when trying to find out what they are entitled to.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, is says: “It is very sad to see that some employers purposefully don’t communicate these benefits”. She’s right, but it is not just sad – it is also confusing. It’s like buying your partner a new car and then hiding it in the garage.
Group risk benefits are extremely valuable to employees. Knowing that their loved ones will receive financial support, should they suffer a serious illness, need an extended period of time off work, or even die, is of huge comfort to most people. Employers need to realise that the benefits bring a lot of value to them as well. The research found that a third of businesses use group risk benefits to attract and retain key personnel – more should be following their example.