Group life assurance was already a highly popular employee benefit well before the recent pandemic. But interest in the cover, which does not exclude COVID-19, has inevitably been boosted during the last couple of years as people have become more aware of their own mortality
The product, which is also commonly known as ‘death in service cover’, pays out a lump sum — regardless of whether death occurs in the workplace or elsewhere. Payments are made to the beneficiaries that employees can nominate when completing ‘Nomination’ or ‘Expression of Wish’ forms
Benefit levels are typically arranged as multiples of between one and four times basic salary, and a ‘free cover limit’ normally enables employees to be covered without having to provide any medical evidence
Additionally, most group life schemes now also offer a whole range of health and wellness-related features for no additional cost
These commonly include an employee assistance programme (EAP), which can play a crucial role in preventing stress-related problems turning into full-blown absenteeism issues by making available confidential and impartial 24/7 stress counselling
Most EAPs also offer numerous other features, ranging from legal information and debt management guidance to critical incident support or help with accessing a suitable care home or nursery
More recently, some group life schemes have even started offering all employees and their dependants virtual health apps that go beyond the scope of EAPs and include health and wellbeing tools like mental health support and the ability to access GPs by video link. Other schemes that haven’t gone quite this far still incorporate one or two such wellness facilities
Whilst a group life scheme is simple enough to set up, it still needs to be reviewed regularly, and the market review should ideally start four to six weeks before the renewal date
The marketplace is changing so quickly that your current offering may no longer be the most competitive or suitable for your needs.
You may be able to obtain lower premiums or a higher free cover limit elsewhere, or you may wish to switch to a scheme offering a virtual health app
Even if you decide to stay put, you may want to reappraise whether you should be using the EAP on your life scheme or one that may be available on another group risk scheme. EAPs can differ markedly in their sophistication, and a specialist intermediary can advise on which one is most suitable
Additionally, your annual review could include a benchmarking exercise to examine whether the levels of life cover you are offering are in line with those of your competitors, and it could also incorporate a reminder to ensure that ‘Nomination’ or ‘Expression of Wish’ forms are updated to reflect employees undergoing life changes — such as getting married or having children
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