Friends Life today announces enhancements to its Group Income Protection (GIP) policy. Changes include the introduction of an increased standard maximum benefit, an increased range of lump sum options and a new product option in response to the Government’s changes to the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). The maximum benefit under the GIP policy is increasing to £425,000* per year from £350,000.
Pension Fund and National Insurance contributions can be insured in addition to the maximum benefit. Friends Life has also removed the 5% limit on employee pension fund contributions (PFCs). The overall maximum amount of PFCs that Friends Life will include is 40% of salary or £75,000, whichever is lower.
The enhancements also increase flexibility around limited benefit payment periods by offering additional lump sums options. Policyholders now have the option of a lump sum of two, three, four or five times salary as opposed to the previous limit of one times salary.
Improvements have also been made to reflect Government changes to the ESA with Friends Life introducing a simplified option where the ESA is only deducted for 12 months. The basic benefit payable under this policy will increase by an amount equivalent to the ESA once benefits have been paid for a year.
In addition, Friends Life has improved the standard Actively at Work (AAW) requirements for schemes of between 20 and 99 lives. For those employees who are not actively at work on the cover commencement day (if they are off ill, for example), their cover will now start on the next day they are actively at work, rather than having to wait for five days or having to supply additional evidence of good health.
A new online toolkit to support the existing employee assistance programme (EAP) is now available. It assists employers wanting to implement the services of the EAP to their employees. The EAP already offers a host of services to both employers and employees on the phone, face to face as well as online and is available to all Friends Life’s GIP scheme members.
David Williams, Director of Group Protection at Friends Life, comments:
“These enhancements to our Group Income Protection proposition reflect the changing demands of customers and Government reforms to state benefit entitlements. These changes consolidate our position as a provider focused on delivering solutions to satisfy the needs of today’s employers.”
“Friends Life offers a comprehensive range of group protection products across life assurance, income protection and critical illness insurance. All of our products are designed to work together as part of a flexible benefits package, enabling employers to control costs while still allowing them to tailor the benefits to meet their employee needs.”