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Group risk market returns to growth

The group risk market grew by 2.9 per cent in 2011 after falling in 2010, according to a new report on the sector compiled by Swiss Re.

The total size of the group risk market is now around £1.52bn, up from £1.48bn in 2010 and £1.51bn in 2009.

Death benefits grew by 4.1 per cent year on year, with total premiums up from £918m in 2010 to £956m in 2011. The number of lives covered under death benefit arrangements increased to 8.2 million in 2011, up from 7.9 million the year before.

Long-term disability income premiums grew by 0.1 per cent in 2011, totalling about £517m. The number of lives covered under long-term disability income schemes is 1.8 million, compared to around 1.7 million in 2010.

Critical illness premiums in-force were up from £50.2m to £55m, an increase of 9.5 per cent. The number of schemes in-force increased by 5.6 per cent, from 2,209 to 2,333.

Swiss Re UK chief executive Russell Higginbotham says: “As the welfare state withdraws from universal provision, the importance of the ongoing role of the private sector in protection cannot be overestimated.

“A robust group risk sector is indispensable and the growth we are seeing is encouraging.”

Axxis Financial Planning director Owen Wintersgill says: “There is a huge protection gap in the UK and group risk schemes are a vital component in plugging that gap. It is important this sector is healthy and grows.”

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