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The hot potato of employee risk

At a glance

  • An ageing workforce means expertise is being retained for longer - but older employees may also have different sickness and accident profiles
  • Employers face increasing challenges of more mobile and remote work patterns
  • Zurich Global Corporate introduces a new combined policy to tackle changing workforce risk

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Changes in staff demographics and working patterns have turned employee risk into a hot potato that many corporate companies have not yet managed to grasp.

But where these companies take advantage of evolving insurance solutions and engage more closely with their corporate advisers, there is an opportunity to create financial savings and generate big operational benefits.

On the positive side, the UK’s ageing workforce lets companies retain expertise and experience for longer. On the negative side, older employees have different accident and sickness profiles, and many companies do not understand how this could impact their business and change their employee risk profile.

In a similar vein, the increasing number of people with more remote and mobile working patterns is also changing the employee risks that large companies have to deal with.

Set against this evolving landscape, employers continue to shoulder a duty of care for their workforce and it is being more stringently monitored and enforced than ever before.

Discharging this duty of care consistently is no easy task and whether an employee injures themselves in a workplace accident, playing Sunday league football or is absent through sickness, companies need to provide an effective and consistent response.

Importance of early intervention

At the heart of the problem lies the need to identify issues early and then provide useful intervention. It is well understood that early intervention reduces the time employees are absent through sickness and injury, and in turn the amount it costs companies and their insurers.

But getting people back to work quickly is not just about the bottom line. In the current trading environment, staffing levels have been cut to the quick. Where staff are absent, this creates an additional burden on the rest of the team, impacting morale and performance. Absent staff take their expertise and experience with them, and again this undermines a company’s ability to perform.

To address some of the issues around employee risk, Zurich Global Corporate has pioneered a new approach and combined its processes for employers’ liability (EL) and group income protection (GIP).

This will have a big impact on helping companies identify issues early. On the EL side, corporate companies and their insurers often only find out about problems once a lawyer has become involved and a claim has been made.

But working in tandem with the GIP policy, which identifies absence in a very timely manner, employers have the opportunity to get involved earlier, understand the situation better and provide effective rehabilitation treatment.

At the moment, brokers tend to negotiate with corporate risk managers to arrange EL policies. GIP policies are often handled by employee benefit consultants dealing with a corporate HR function.

By combining its EL and GIP proposition, Zurich Global Corporate wants to give brokers the chance to take a step back and offer a product that operates as an effective solution to employee risk, rather than just place a policy that meets their mandatory insurance needs.

Single point of contact for claims

The combined proposition means there is a single point of contact for all employee injury and absence claims. It creates a centralised claims triage and rehabilitation function, reducing the amount of time spent dealing with claims and helps to create a single view of injury and absence losses. This enables companies to modify their working regimes and training patterns to improve their risk.

From an underwriting point of view, assessing EL and GIP risks at the same time gives a much richer picture of the company, and so leads to more accurate pricing.

By stepping back from EL and GIP as individual covers that are treated separately, there is an opportunity for insurers and brokers to offer a combined proposition that gives companies better insight into their employee risk.

This will give clients a more holistic solution to the problems they face and enable them to get better value out of their insurance spend.

Image © Getty

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