Canada Life Group's Paul Avis examines the evolution of group income protection and the largely undiscovered opportunities for advisers.
In the beginning, there was a financial insurance policy called permanent health insurance. This was re-named to prolonged disability insurance, salary continuance and then long-term disability insurance, before settling on income protection.
The name is not all that has changed. It is exciting to see the way that a simple financial product has morphed into an affordable, flexible, value and service bundle.
Group income protection (GIP) is now so much more than a financial product and good insurers are keen to work with advisers and their clients to ensure they make the most of what is on offer.
Is there more to GIP?
One such service is an outsourced vocational rehabilitation service to complement occupational health (OH) or, in most instances, provide some specific case support.
Reports indicate there is little availability of OH in the small and medium employers (SME) segment, so they specifically need help with managing complex employee health scenarios.
Depersonalising the return to work programme is essential for SME clients that have built businesses with their employees. In simple terms, having a designated qualified rehab consultant is an absolute gift for employers, who can mitigate their claims experience with early intervention, ensure compliance with the Equality Act (2010), reduce occupational sick pay and, in some cases, review their OH programme and reduce costs.
More to come?
While ‘value added’ services are key, as we review the last few years it is evident that price sensitivity from employers has been driving the GIP marketplace. But are we – as insurers and advisers – missing a trick as an industry: could we be doing more to help employers save money?
Yes. However, this is not necessarily about product innovation but rather ensuring that each organisation makes full use of the services that are already available. Take, for example, the benefits offered by a direct employee assistance programme (EAP), which is embedded within a GIP product.
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