300,000 more UK workers protected by group risk schemes

The number of employees in the UK protected by group risk insurance grew by 300,000 in 2013, according to Swiss Re.


Its Group watch 2014 report, which analysed and summarised group risk business results at the end of 2013, found that the overall UK group risk market grew by 2.8% to cover nearly 11 million people at the end of 2013.

The research also found:

  • More than two million people in the UK are insured under long-term disability schemes offered by their employers. This represents a 3.8% increase compared to 2012.
  • An estimated 100,000 more people are covered by workplace arrangements as auto-enrolment was implemented in large organisations.
  • Premium growth was very strong in the group death benefits sector, rising to £1.1 billion for the year, comparable to the 9.8% growth in 2012.
  • Group life premiums grew by 17.4%.
  • The trend away from death-in-service pensions towards lump-sum benefits continued. This trend is likely to accelerate when compulsory pensions annuitisation is removed in April 2015.
  • Critical illness insurance experienced large growth of 12.8% in the number of people insured, with a corresponding premium growth of 12.7%. The total in-force critical illness premium now stands at £67 million.
  • 1.5 million people contributed through flexible benefits schemes or voluntary benefits schemes, a 7.8% rise on the previous year.

Russell Higginbotham, chief executive officer of Swiss Re, UK and Ireland, said: “It’s great news that the numbers are up for a second year.

“Auto-enrolment has driven growth and, when fully implemented, millions of UK workers will have a pension, which is a great accomplishment.

“But there is still work to do. Even with auto-enrolment, only around half of the UK will have life cover and about 10% will have disability protection.

“We need to improve on that and employers are a trusted way to deliver financial protection.”

Ron Wheatcroft (pictured), technical manager at Swiss Re and author of the report, added: “The results show that the group risk proposition remains strong.

“People are also choosing to adapt or increase their benefit to suit their own personal circumstances and this is helping growth in the market.

“The recently announced pension changes [in the Budget 2014] will lead to more people looking at how their employers provide financial products and we think the market is well-placed to adapt.”