Group Risk Cover Protection Market Displaying ‘Gender Paradox’

New research reveals the Group Risk market is displaying a ‘gender paradox’, highlighting the need for providers and employers to better facilitate adoption among every gender.

According to the Legal & General (L&G) study of over 1,000 UK employees, a gender paradox exists when it comes to group risk protection benefits, with more women than men being aware of the limitations of state health and welfare support. However, fewer women than men actually fully engage with group protection benefits and services.

Fewer women engaging with group risk benefits

L&G says it defines ‘engaging’ with the policy as “including reviewing and adjusting cover levels according to need, using the embedded value services and / or making a claim”.

Interestingly, despite finding group risk policies slightly more relevant to their health and happiness than men (66% vs. 63%), far fewer women (56%) than men (68%) have engaged with benefits such as Group Income Protection (GIP), Critical Illness Cover (CIC) and Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs).

In fact, just 14% of women with a CIC policy have ever made changes or ‘topped up’ their policy (vs. 24% of men). Among women with GIP, this rises to 20% (vs. 38% of men). Furthermore, half of all women with an EAP (49%) have never used any of the benefits on offer and a quarter (24%) of women with GIP (vs. just 12% of men) didn’t know if their policy came with free mental health and rehabilitation support.

A fifth of women with GIP consider it irrelevant to them or their family

Regarding the perceived relevance of group protection cover, one-fifth (22%) of women with GIP (vs. 26% of men) do not consider it relevant to them or their family, as do 25% of women with CIC and 35% with an EAP.

Speaking about the findings of the research, Colin Fitzgerald, distribution director - Group Protection at Legal & General, said one of the key findings of the study was the gender disparity identified among the opinions and behaviours of women when it comes to their group protection policies.

"On the one hand, it's reassuring to find that a high percentage of women understand the relevance of these benefits when it comes to self-provision due to the limitations of state health and welfare support. On the other hand, the data shows a disconnect when it comes to how well women actually understand and therefore engage with the products and services available, particularly when compared to men,” he added.

But when the product is understood, relevance and value is realised

Of those that have used GIP, a higher proportion of women (27% vs. 17% of men) said this was because ‘in the current climate, I am concerned about the pressure on NHS services so I want to protect my health the best I can’. This response was the joint top factor women value most about the policy, along with: ‘Financial peace of mind’ (27%) and ‘Nice to know my employer cares’ (27%).

When it comes to why women value CIC, ‘Nice to know my employer cares’ (32%) followed by ‘Protecting the family, not just me’ (31%) and ‘Valuable addition to my overall reward package’ (27%) were the top results.

Cover for all

As this L&G research reveals, a gender gap exists when it comes to engaging with Group Risk Cover. Providers and employers need to ensure they are including every gender in their offerings and effectively communicating so that nobody is excluded.

If you would like some more advice on Group Risk Cover, including how to effectively communicate them, get in touch with us.

Author: Matthew Bucknall - Group Risk and Protection Consultant