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With new research suggesting a million people in the workplace will this year live with cancer, the launch of the UK’s first employer-funded group risk policy specifically to cover the disease is perhaps timely.

Friends Life, one of the UK’s leading life insurance and pensions specialists, is targeting group cancer cover at companies with 100 or more employees.

The policy will pay out £25,000 to a member of staff diagnosed with cancer covered by the plan as well as offering benefits such as access to a Cancer Support Service, BUPA Healthline and Best Doctors which allows members to seek specialist medical advice and second opinions.

Crucially for employers the policy is offered on a “moratorium underwriting” basis so there is no need for the company or its staff to provide information about their health. Unsurprisingly though pre-existing cancers would not be covered.

Why choose Group Cancer Cover?

There are some hard and sobering numbers to consider. Cancer Research UK reports that every two minutes in the UK someone receives the life-changing news that they have one of 200 cancers. The charity notes too that the incidence of cancer has soared by 23% for men and 43% for women since the mid-1970s. More than one in three of us will develop cancer in our lifetime.

Meanwhile Macmillan Cancer Support research suggests that advances in diagnoses and treatments, coupled with our ageing population, mean that in 2015 there will be some 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK. A million of those will be in work.

This it says will create a crisis of “unmanageable proportions” and is urging all the political parties to take urgent action to address the pressures set to be placed on the NHS.

Anna Spender, Friends Life’s head of group protection proposition, explained the rationale behind the launch by saying: “Given the research from Macmillan and an ageing work population, the prevalence of cancer in the workplace is likely to rise so we wanted to do something that would really benefit employees.

“Group cancer cover has been designed to be affordable and simple, providing a level of benefit to help with the additional costs that people face while going through cancer treatment.”

So in deciding whether to opt for Group Cancer Cover over a wider group critical illness policy you’ll need consider your priorities and budget.

It’s a numbers game. Friends Life told private health insurance industry magazine Cover that premiums would be around 30% lower than those for a critical illness policy. Meanwhile Group Risk Development, the body that represents the corporate group protection industry, says that nearly 70% of all critical illness claims are cancer related.

If, as a business owner or manager, you don’t already provide critical illness cover you might consider Group Cancer Cover a good first step. Introducing protection against such a prevalent disease (whilst minimising impact on your payroll costs) is likely to be welcomed by your staff as a sign that you care about their wellbeing.

On the flipside, of course, if your rivals offer more extensive employee benefits – such as critical illness cover – you could lose a competitive edge in the recruitment market by offering cover just for cancer.

Or you might simply believe your employees deserve to be protected against other diseases, many of which are also sadly prevalent – over 2.3 million people live with coronary heart disease alone according to the British Heart Foundation.

Which policy shoud your company choose?

There is no simple answer to the question of which policy is best for your organisation. Every business is different, facing different challenges within its own marketplace, employing different numbers and types of people, in different places and who do different jobs.

Determining the right policy to suit those corporate demographics, the particular objectives in mind and, naturally, the available budget requires experience, expertise and a holistic view of what the group insurance market has to offer.

That’s where Chase Templeton’s Group Risk Team can help. As an independent intermediary we can offer not just expert advice, but free and impartial advice. As one of the UK’s leading private health insurance specialists managing over £100 million worth of premiums annually, we also enjoy particularly strong relationships with the UK’s leading insurers.

To arrange an informal and no-obligation discussion of your group risk insurance options contact Chase Templeton today