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02 Nov 2022
by Glenn Thompson

5 questions to ask your group income protection provider

Looking to include GIP as part of your employee benefits package? Here’s what you need to consider

5 questions to ask your next group income protection provider Unum.jpg


New research from GRiD, the industry body for the group risk sector, shows that only a third of employers say they offer their entire workforce financial support in the event of ill health, injury or death. At its most basic, Group Income Protection (GIP) provides insured employees with that vital financial protection by paying a proportion of their wages if they’re unable to work for a long period of time.

But a good GIP policy can actually offer so much more than financial protection. A combination of vocational rehabilitation and absence management support can help prevent staff going sick in the first place, and help them return to work faster, and more safely if they do. 

Here are five things to consider when choosing a GIP provider:

1. Experience

Obviously the longer an insurer has offered GIP, the more experienced they are in dealing with claims. 

But do they have a good track record across different industries and have they worked with companies of all sizes — from SMEs to global corporates? Do they have access to in-house medical specialists, with a good depth of knowledge of diverse illnesses and injuries? You might also consider how focused they are on employee benefits, or whether their focus is split across other forms of insurance, such as car cover or house protection.

2. Rehabilitation

If you ask most people when GIP rehabilitation support should kick in, they’d probably reply: “Once they’re signed off sick, right?”

Wrong. Actually, access to early rehabilitation — as soon as you can see that someone is struggling, and way before they need to make a claim — can help keep an employee in work. And if they do go off sick, it can help minimise the length of time they are away. So it’s good for both employers and employees.

This is where in-house expertise can be doubly valuable. Specialists who are already working together provide a truly collaborative service, and can improve accessibility for people making a claim, or in need of rehabilitation support. ‘Keeping it in the family’ can also potentially cut referral times, compared with having to outsource to contractors (who may also be working for other clients).

3. Return to work services

A big test of an insurer’s rehabilitation offering is the proportion of employees they help return to work (or stay in work). If they have a great track record in this area, it might be because they have fantastic absence management and rehabilitation services.

The return-to-work success rate is, of course, a key indicator of the quality of these services. But exactly how you go about getting someone back to their job is really important too — and it can have a major impact on their ongoing wellbeing. Personalised, graduated return-to-work plans help ease employees back into work and can reduce ‘rebound’ absences (where people go back too soon and see a recurrence of their symptoms).  

Many GIP insurers make a huge effort to focus on the early notification of health issues, because a speedy referral to rehabilitation can actually help prevent a situation becoming bad enough for an employee to have to go off sick. But GIP insurers do understand that sometimes people will need to make a claim and this is where it’s worth checking the rehabilitation team’s success in reducing the duration of claims. Does a referral to them reduce the length of time an employee is too unwell to work, compared to no referral at all? 

Rehabilitation aims to build a successful, sustainable return to health and work as soon as the employee is well enough. The shorter the time someone is unwell, the less daunting it can feel for them to return to the workplace.

4. Preventative services

Good employers know that there are many things that can be done to improve employees’ health and wellbeing at work, and that by helping people remain well, they are actually benefitting their company too. 

If you’re committed to reducing sickness absence and making yours a healthier and happier workplace then you should ask if an insurer offers line manager and HR training courses to help. Sometimes, these courses offer CPD-accreditation on topics such as mental health, stress, cancer in the workplace, musculoskeletal disorders and more.

As well as line manager training, many GIP providers offer services such as: employee health and wellbeing checks; workplace health and wellbeing assessments; and employee workshops and training courses; as well as specific support for common conditions, such as cancer or mental health issues.

5. Added value services

Many GIP policies also offer a wealth of added-value services. These might include remote GPs, access to mental health support, specialist cancer support and Employee Assistance Programmes, which can help people deal with anything from life’s simple questions to more complex worries. All these services can help employees prioritise their own wellness, so it’s worth taking time to explore them. They could truly benefit your workforce’s health, wellbeing and work/life balance.

Whilst the most optimist of employers may think ‘it won’t happen to us’, illness and injury can happen to members of your workforce. GIP provides not just a financial payment to prevent the impact of long-term absence and claims but can also offer valuable health and wellbeing tools which can benefit both you as an employer, and your employees.

In partnership with Unum

Putting people at the heart of employee benefits

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