Critical illness insurance has increased in popularity as a voluntary benefit, while income protection for expatriate staff is also on the rise, says Tynan Barton
Employers are more likely to offer life assurance/death-in-service benefits to staff as a core benefit, rather than through an employee-paid voluntary benefits scheme. This may be because an employer can obtain group rates and cover many employees under one master policy, which results in better rates than staff can obtain individually. Income protection remains a popular core benefit for some or all employees.
Providing critical illness insurance for employees as a voluntary benefit has increased substantially in popularity over recent years, rising from 6% in 2009 to 9% in 2010, and 29% this year.
The option to take out critical illness insurance for employees’ families has also increased in popularity. This year, it is offered by 25% of respondents, compared with 5% in 2009.
When looking solely at group risk benefits, the most popular frequency at which respondents review their provision is every two years. Meanwhile, findings elsewhere in this research show that in the past 12 months, just over a quarter of employers have reviewed the fees and commission they pay benefits providers and advisers, and a similar proportion have restructured one or more of their insurance-based benefits (see Actions taken).
When looking at their combined group risk and healthcare benefits package, just under three-quarters of respondents review their package annually, which helps to ensure they continue to receive the best deal.
Nearly two-fifths of respondents have operations or divisions outside the UK, which means many have responsibility to provide benefits for expatriates around the world.
Among those respondents that have operations or divisions outside of the UK, life assurance/death-in-service is the most popular benefit provided to expatriates, by 78% of respondents. Last year, 37% of respondents said they offered income protection to expatriates, and this year that figure has increased to 43%.
Offering group risk benefits through a multinational pooling arrangement to expatriates and local nationals is a way of controlling the costs of providing these perks. According to last month’s Employee Benefits/Pruhealth Healthcare Research 2011, the proportion of employers offering income protection-type benefits through multinational pooling has increased from 8% in 2010 to 20% this year.
Read more from the Employee Benefits/Friends Life Group Risk Research 2011