Back to work support ‘key to GIP image revamp’

The scale of the challenge facing the group risk sector’s efforts to grow into new markets has been highlighted by research showing just 9 per cent of employees say they would value income protection and just 11 per cent of employers thinking their staff would value it.

But emphasising the benefits of additional services such as vocational rehabilitation and back to work support may hold the key to improving customer engagement. Vocational rehabilitation and back to work support were the most valued additional benefits and services, valued by 37 per cent of employers and 31 per cent of employees, new research has found.

Research carried out for Ellipse found group income protection (GIP) to be the least commonly provided group risk benefit, offered by just 15 per cent of employers, yet vocational rehabilitation was the most attractive added value group risk benefit.

The survey of 1,150 employees and 1,001 employers in the UK, saw income protection named as a top-three benefit by only 9 per cent of employees.

When employers were asked what they thought their employees would value the most, only 11 per cent said income protection.

Asked why they didn’t offer GIP, 32 per cent of employer respondents said they thought the cover was too expensive, although they hadn’t actually checked and 20 per cent said they did not know enough about the product. But only 12 per cent said they didn’t think there was any value in providing group risk benefits.

Ellipse chief marketing officer Chris Morgan says: “This research paints a challenging picture for our industry. We simply haven’t engaged enough with employers to educate and inform as to the cost and value of income protection. Negative perceptions are a real barrier but we can overcome these. The product also has an image problem amongst employees, it is valuable cover yet most just don’t know what it is. This is a challenge for all insurers and advisers to address.

“Emphasising the more immediate and preventative benefits provided by group income protection is another tactic which our research suggests may help to improve its image. Presented with a two or three year limited payment period, a low cost entry level product which adds everyday value can easily be created. Surely some cover is better than none?”