Dr Matthew Connell: Start the conversation about group risk benefits

Matthew Connell

In many ways, group risk benefits are the best benefits employers can offer their staff.

If an employee does not have an adequate pension, they can work longer to save for one, provided they are healthy. But if someone loses their ability to work because of illness, there is no plan b; they have to rely on insurance, or on the very limited assistance they get from the state.

However, all organisations operate in a demanding environment and must control costs. The best way to achieve this when choosing risk benefits is to think carefully about what [the employer] needs from them; and what do employees think is important?

One advantage of being a smaller organisation is that employers, providers and employees can have a meaningful conversation about benefits so that they really understand the advantages of getting protection through their employer.

For example, I was involved with an organisation of fewer than 10 employees that wanted to introduce an income protection policy for its employees. When we talked to staff, one big concern was around coverage for pre-existing conditions, which they assumed would be excluded altogether.

When we were able to show that they would get coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions up to a free cover limit, the benefit amount an insurer is willing to provide per employee without evidence of their good health, key members of staff had a real sense of the advantages of being covered through the workplace.

It is vital to use a professional adviser to help design risk benefits, not only to make sure that [the employer] has the best blend of coverage, but also because advisers can offer crucial insights into additional services such as rehabilitation and counselling.

These additional services can be just as valuable as the insurance itself, because they can have a crucial impact on both the health of employees and the productivity of an organisation.

Risk benefits offer huge advantages to employees. Getting the right advice and engaging in the right kind of consultation means that employees will have cover that is both affordable and genuinely appreciated.

Dr Matthew Connell is director of policy and public relations at the Chartered Insurance Institute