The report shows that annual market premiums across all three types of group risk business have risen by 5.2 per cent, from 1.51 billion in 2006 to 1.59 billion in 2007.
In-force market premiums for group death benefits totaled 910.8 million in 2007, up 5.5 per cent compared with 2006, while group life schemes provide nearly 40 per cent of all life cover held in the UK.
For group income protection cover, in-force market premiums totaled 641 million, an increase of 4.7 per cent over the previous year; group income protection schemes provide more than 70 per cent of all insured long-term income protection benefits
In-force premiums for group critical illness cover amounted to 37.2 million in 2007, up 7 per cent compared with 2006. This growth came mainly through flexible benefits schemes where employees actively choose to purchase the cover.
Business from small/medium enterprises (SMEs) is seen by Swiss Re as an important component of any market growth.
The report says the biggest challenge facing the industry is to make the group risk proposition attractive to employers and employees. It says this is essential in order to arrest or reverse the net decline in the number of group death benefit and income protection schemes in force.
Report author Ron Wheatcroft says: To boost the market far more should be done in communicating the value of employee benefits. Doing so will be particularly crucial if employers cost pressures become more acute over the coming year due to a deteriorating economic climate.