The Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic really has brought our human frailty to the fore. Both employers and their people have realised that during their working life there’s a real chance of dying, being extremely ill or being left with a lasting health condition as a result of contracting Coronavirus. The group risk market has well and truly risen to this challenge, and group risk benefits, with all their embedded support, have come into their own during the pandemic.
There isn’t a better way for employers to show duty of care than by giving their employees group risk cover so that they, and their household, have the security of knowing they will be taken care of if the worst happens. No other benefit can deliver this, and last year saw employers prioritising group risk benefits in a way that they may not have before the pandemic, with many doing their utmost to maintain this provision despite the many challenges facing their business.
The group risk industry responded to the challenges of lockdown and changing work patterns brought about by the pandemic. It reconfigured to working from home and service as usual with astonishing speed, and responded quickly to employers’ changing needs – helping employers maintain benefits under new circumstances, for example by allowing flexibility around those working on reduced hours or on furloughed pay.
Most importantly, the industry did what it says on the tin by paying death claims quickly and without fuss for those who have sadly died from Coronavirus.
At the mid-year point in 2020, the dependants of employees with group life benefits in place had been paid benefits valued at a total of nearly £57 million where Coronavirus had been recorded as the primary or secondary cause of death on the death certificate or reported on the claim form, as reported in Group Risk Development’s (Grid) mid-year Covid-19 claims survey 2020, published in July 2020.
Virtual GP services and employee assistance programmes (EAP) offered at no extra cost through group risk products have been heavily utilised throughout the pandemic. More online and virtual support services have been put in place by group risk providers, for example additional help specifically for those suffering the effects of long Covid. This trend is likely to continue, with more services specifically developed in response to the direct and indirect impact of Coronavirus and the ‘new normal’ of a much higher proportion of staff working from home.
Employers with group risk benefits in place have been, and will be, in a great position to help their staff through this difficult time and out the other end.
Katharine Moxham is spokesperson for Group Risk Development (Grid)