The real value of group risk has been overlooked for too long now. The emergence of Fit for Work will help drive appreciation as it focuses attention on the importance of early intervention in managing absence. The more such topics are widely discussed by both the media and the industry, the better for the employer and the end-user.

Prediction 1: Fit for Work sparks greater interest in early intervention services

The long-awaited launch of the new Fit for Work (FFW) service can only be a good thing for Group Risk. Employers, particularly SMEs, have long overlooked the costs of long-term sickness absence, and it is predicted that a greater media focus on the successes of the FFW service in 2016 will highlight and enhance the appreciation of the early intervention services that are inherent within most Group Income Protection plans. This in turn is likely to result in a greater usage of such services which will benefit all parties.

The increased media focus on employee absence is also likely to boost interest in centralised absence management programmes for employers.

Prediction 2: The Group Income Protection (GIP) industry better demonstrates the value of their product to employers

The launch of the Fit for Work service has acted as a catalyst for insurer change in 2015, with significant strides from GIP providers made as the industry sought to demonstrate the real value to employers of utilising early intervention services in reducing sickness absence. It is therefore predicted that 2016 will see a further strengthening of this effort, as insurers seek to demonstrate that Group Income Protection cover provides a much more robust and complete solution to absence management than the state funded alternatives.

Prediction 3: An increased focus on Event Limits

2015 witnessed a resurgence of terror threats across the world, as well as a number of high profile air disasters. It therefore follows that in 2016 both the Group Life industry and employers will be paying more attention to the detail of policy “Event Limits” to ensure that cover for any given company and workforce is as robust as the market will allow. This is therefore likely to become an issue of greater importance in renewal processes in the UK.

By Steve Herbert, Head of Benefits Strategy, Jelf Employee Benefits