Group Protection claims and support

Cover that goes above and beyond

Paying claims and providing expert help to your employees through some of life’s most difficult times is at the heart of our Group Protection business.

In 2022

Employees supported

Group Protection supported 7,273 employees and their families when times were tough.


Paying out £373,949,994 in Group Protection Benefits. That’s an average of £1,024,520 every day.

Our 2022 claims and support in detail

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Transcript  for video Group Protection Claims webinar

My name is Jason Ellis, welcome to our first ever Claims Report launch for our Group Protection business.

Paying claims is at the heart of what we do, and here at Aviva no one is more important than the customer and we are here to celebrate the fantastic work of our claims team and show how we go above and beyond for our customers.  As well as looking at the headline numbers from Sophie this morning, we’ll also be hearing from a few employees we have helped support not just financially but also from an emotional and vocational perspective too.

So, to get us started, set the scene, and share with you our commitment to being there for your customers, let me welcome Fran Bruce, Managing Director of our Protection business.

Good morning, everybody and thank you Jason and thank you everybody for joining us today. As Jason said, I lead the Protection business at Aviva which includes both Group and Individual Protection.

So, this is our very first Group Protection claims webinar hot on the heels of the claims reports we’ve recently released for both Individual and Group Protection.

So, we aim to be there for our customers and it’s really important to me that we honour that side of the bargain. This is our first claims report for Group Protection, and – as I guess you’d expect – it’s the amount of claims we’ve paid that most likely make the headlines.

But, as well as the numbers, the report tells a story that goes further. It’s also about expertise, service, and commitment. the efforts of teams who go above and beyond providing financial support, to make a difference to people when they need us most.

And you’re going to hear all about that here today. The Wellbeing services that we have available go a long way towards making that difference. You’ll hear updates on support such as Digicare+ Workplace and Red Apple law services, enhancements that are all about life, not just when it comes to a claim.

And I’m equally pleased to be able to show how we’ve further refined the care we provide for specific conditions, adding neurodiversity, cardiac and neurological pathways in the past year.

You’re going to hear an insight into a year’s work that was recognised with the Cover Excellence award 2022 for outstanding contribution to protection and health. But more than this – you’ll be hearing about 12 months during which we went further than ever for employees when it mattered most.

So, here’s the headline data. The scale of the payments evidences the crucial financial support we provide for thousands of UK employees. This is even more important during times of broader cost of living challenges where the benefit we pay can make a huge difference to these employees and their families.

We’re equally focused on going above and beyond our customers’ expectations of their policies and their cover. More and more customers are registering with, and using our Aviva DigiCare+ health and wellbeing app. And our relentless focus is on putting customers and their families at the heart of our claims service.

We paid over £373m in Group Protection claims in 2022. So that’s more than every single day to support our customers and their families through some of the most challenging times.  And our customers were really appreciative too, with 90% of claimants saying they were satisfied with the service they received from us.

So just taking a look at those 2022 headline figures by product you can see that we paid out:

•            £242 million pounds across 2,000 life claims

•            £96 million pounds across 4,700 income protection claims, and

•            £35m million pounds across 490 critical illness claims, which includes children’s cover where we paid 3 claims for child specific conditions at birth,

•            That’s a total of 7,273 claims paid to Aviva customers and their families.

So, as you’d expect, I’m incredibly proud of these results

Now we’re handing the baton over to Sophie Money, our wellbeing and insight manager who will take us through the claim’s numbers in a little more detail. Sophie.

Thank you, Jason.

So, I wanted to start with Group Income Protection. Although before I get to the actual claims numbers, we’re going to take a look at the employees that we helped to support when they were absent from the workplace or struggling to stay at work because of their illness or injury.

So, last year we provided rehab support to over 2,500 employees.  About 60% of these cases were supported in house, so that is by Aviva’s own clinical and claims teams, and the rest were referred onto our rehab partners for private treatment and support.

So, of those cases referred to us, that normally happens about 4-6 weeks into the deferred period, the main reason for our support, 47%, was for mental health conditions which is not atypical.  That’s been the lead cause of referrals for a good number of years now and it’s actually taken over MSK, Musculoskeletal,  which traditionally had the number one spot. 

So, in second place, at 15% is MSK and we are still seeing long COVID related absences account for a significant number of referrals – and they sat at 10% in 2022. So, for those we typically utilised the long COVID pathway from our rehab partner Working To Wellbeing, and they provide support in those cases. You’ll actually get to meet Julie from Working To Wellbeing shortly. 

And then finally cancer referrals form 9% of those referrals into us.

So, coming to the outcomes of those early referrals, overall 82% of employees we supported with that rehab returned to the workplace or were even able to remain at the workplace with our help.

Then some really impressive numbers next – 93% of the employees with a mental health condition that we helped to return to work, did so before that deferred period ended, so that really shows how effective early referral can be. 

But that said, we still actively try and support rehabilitation when a claim is being paid and we recently we helped an employee back into the workplace that had been in claim for 7 years due to a mental health related condition. So it can be really effective throughout the period of a claim.

The same figures for MSK and Long COVID were 92% and 76% respectively, and maybe that highlights that some long COVID sufferers are having to contend with long term symptoms affecting their ability to work.

So then coming to our Group Income Protection cover, so the claims, and this is what helps customers cope financially if they are unable to work or they suffer a loss of earnings due to illness or injury, and their absence lasts longer than that deferred period. So taking a deeper look at the financial help we provided.

Now, we’ve got the headline numbers at the top, so they show the total amount paid, and that was over £96m, and of those 4,702 claimants that we’ve helped. Of those, 85% scored a 9 a 10 when asked to rate the service that they received from us, which is brilliant.

Now of course, no one likes to imagine themselves facing an illness or an injury which results in being unable to work, but unfortunately the reality is that it does affect all ages across the working population, but of course some more than others.

So on average in 2022, customers were 49 years old when they first claimed on their Group Income Protection, and the age range where we received significantly more claims you can see was the 40-59 age group.

So reflecting back. So whilst mental health conditions accounted for the highest number of referrals in for early support, the support of our early intervention and rehab meant that the actual main reason for claim payment was cancer. They accounted for 27% of all new claims that we paid last year. And whilst Long Covid was 10% of all referrals into us, the amount of covid related absences that went into group income protection claim payment was at 7%.

Now, to help provide expert help to employees referred into us, we have worked together with specialist rehab partners to define seven support pathways for the most common and the most complex cases that we get.  The most recent additions last year were for cardiac and neurological conditions, together with neurodiversity support, which has attracted a lot of attention from employers in recent times.

Employees benefit from quick and easy access to a team of specialist clinicians who will help them manage their condition and provide a return-to-work focus when it’s appropriate.

For Long Covid and Cancer related absences we do partner with Working To Wellbeing, and as mentioned you’ll hear from Julie today on how they focus on vocational rehabilitation and condition management to help employees take back control and when they’re ready get back into the workplace on a sustained basis.

That’s brilliant, thank you Sophie.

So look, next we’re going to hear from someone that’s been through a cancer journey herself.  This is a really personal one for me as Lynda, who you're about to hear from, was a member of our own Group Protection Distribution Team. 

I can't thank Lynda enough, thank you Lynda, for being here and talking us through her story. 

Thank you very much Jason and hello, everybody. Some of you may recognise and remember me. 

I was an Account Manager at Aviva Group Protection for 15 years looking after various key accounts and their clients.  It was a hectic and sometimes stressful job, but I loved it.

Now in 2018, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  I was feeling really well, but suddenly I found a very large lump.  So large, I didn’t think it could possibly be cancer.  The GP said I should get a referral within 2 weeks, but because I had Aviva Health Insurance, I was sitting in front of a consultant just one day later and was I diagnosed on the same day.  

Biopsies taken at the same time unfortunately showed the cancer wasn’t going to be easily treatable and was it very aggressive. Treatment plan A was discussed.

Now Breast Cancer chemo is particularly toxic and I had a few problems with infections along the way, but I got there, with the amazing support from my husband Chris, and my friends, and my management team at Aviva.  I always said I will be a case study one day.

Then came the first good news.  Treatment plan A had been a success and I’d had what the medical profession refer to as a ‘Complete Clinical Reaction’. Now

cancer treatment varies, but for many, including me, it was highly toxic and leaves you feeling exhausted, prone to illnesses, and  fatigued.  I felt as though I was a broken toy which needed winding up – felt as though I was operating in first gear only.  I tried so hard to get back to my normal fit and active self, but the more I pushed, the more exhausted I felt.

This was a problem when it was time to come back to work.  I wanted to return to my role at Aviva, but I knew it would be impossible to do it on my own.  I realised I had treatment fatigue. This was difficult enough to deal with though I had peace of mind knowing that I had financial security through Aviva’s Group Income Protection policy.

This is when the claims team at Aviva, who I had been in contact with throughout my journey, suggested I talk to Julie at Working To Wellbeing. Now I knew about Julie and her team so I jumped at the chance and I’ve never looked back.

I had my initial session over the phone with Julie and it was immediately clear I was in the hands of an expert. The assessment actually lasted for 1.5 hours and covered absolutely everything. 

The results showed that I didn’t require counselling, but she suggested I talk to her colleague Carol, a physiotherapist who would put a structured exercise plan together for me so I could learn how to pace myself before my return to work at Aviva.

Carol and I talked, and she put together an exercise programme for me which involved walking outside but also using my treadmill.  To start with I walked for just 5 minutes a day, and the key was not to walk any further, even if I felt I could.  Three days later I increased to 7 minutes and so it continued. I was learning to pace, I was beginning to understand fatigue.

This structured exercise plan was designed to trick the body into recovery.  Not giving it a chance to fight back, by overdoing it too quickly.   Carol and Julie explained that my body was busy repairing damaged cells and was therefore taking all of my energy.  By tackling the fatigue little by little, I saw a gradual but definite improvement - and then – I was ready to return to work.

This was an exciting development, but it was really scary.  I wondered if I would cope.  I thought people may not understand my limitations.  I dreamt that I walked into a meeting and everyone just ignored me, because they were embarrassed and didn’t know what to say. And I worried I wouldn’t fit back into the team after being away for so long.

Julie understood all of this, and she helped me so much.  She taught me how to explain to people that I’m still recovering.  The support was welcome and the nightmares stopped.

So, I returned to work, under a phased plan agreed by Julie, My Aviva GIP case manager and my line manager Simon.   To be completely honest, it was overwhelming. It was a much greater challenge than I had anticipated.  My recovery was slow, I had lost most of my confidence, I had headaches, I had infections and I felt as though I couldn’t be relied upon to do what was required from an Account Manager.

Julie was there every step of the way.  She picked up the pieces, she guided me through, she helped to build my confidence, and with all this support, 4 months I had returned to a fully functioning team member and I was loving being back in the work place.

My conclusions are that, returning to work is hard, and support is absolutely vital. Tailored solutions are necessary as we have differing challenges, continued return-to-work support from Julie and her team is still needed – and the pacing continues.

Sadly, my husband Chris was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour, just 6 months after my return to work, and although Aviva gave me some options, I decided to leave.  I was lucky to have some pension funds I could draw on to see me through until I could work again.  Looking after someone so ill during lockdown without any family to support us was another challenge, and it’s definitely my toughest to date, but I drew as much as I could from my work with Julie and Carol and somehow, I got through it – relatively sane.

Chris died in October 2021 and early in 2022 I decided to embark on a different path and started training to become a counsellor.  I’ve nearly finished my first year, and I am told I am going to be quite good.  I have another 2 years training to go yet, but next year I will start a placement, hopefully with a cancer support charity as this is what I would like to do in the future.

My work with Aviva and with Working To Wellbeing, Julie and Carol has led me down this pathway.  I understand how completely how vital support is when you have cancer, you feel lost and you feel scared, but you need to return to work.

I’m looking forward to helping others like me find their way back to health and back to life. Thank you.

Lynda, crikey anybody who listens to that story, um I think you’ll all agree, it’s amazing to see and hear first-hand the impact our services have.  During Lynda’s story though, you heard Lynda reference, Julie Denning and Working to Wellbeing.  I am delighted to say, that we have Julie with us here today.  On a personal note, I can’t say thank you to Julie enough, but for today, Julie what are your reflections as you listen to Lynda telling her story.

Well, firstly I'd like to say thank you so much for inviting me along today, it really great to be here and to virtually meet with Lynda again.  Hello Lynda. Her story is a very familiar one to us at Working to Wellbeing although we are very careful to approach every situation individually after the appropriate clinical assessment.  And as you've heard, Lynda went through a gruelling series of both chemo and radiotherapy which is incredibly fatiguing, and it meant Lynda needed to give herself that adequate rest when needed. 

We take a very holistic approach when supporting people with cancer or actually any long-term condition to return to work.  We often talk about pacing, focussing on both a physical and psychological perspective and we use different tools and techniques to help avoiding that boom and bust that we so often see, things like ‘halve what you're doing and then take a little bit off’ in terms of managing task loads.  I talk about that a lot. We also talk about self-compassion and self-patience and challenge those feelings of guilt, imposter syndrome and self-criticism.

At Working to Wellbeing we use a cognitive behavioural approach to help people process or express their thoughts about their illness and symptoms in a different way, to manage their emotions and to be aware of their body response.  We work to support health behaviour change to help people manage, to self manage their condition.

We always have work as part of our functional restoration approach and we actually see work as a health outcome and part of the rehabilitation process.  We often devise return to work plans supported by employer and line manager.

We apply a similar approach when supporting people with other long term conditions including Long Covid, helping people  to overcome both the physical symptoms of the condition, such as breathlessness and fatigue as well as the cognitive and emotional symptoms too.

Thank you Julie and you also helped play a part in helping to support another of our case studies, Alex.  I'm pleased to be able to share a few sneak peeks with you so I’m going to talk through Alex’s case study now so we’ll skip to VT.

At just 33 years of age, Alex started to experience severe numbness in her toes which, rather than being a one-off and disappearing overnight began to spread up her body.  She was eventually numb from her feet to her collarbone and down her arms and her hands.  Alex would go to bed thinking her symptoms would improve.  Instead though, she’d wake up with increased numbness. 

Initially Alex sought help from her GP who suggested it might be a trapped nerve though as the numbness spread upwards the GP referred her to a neurologist. This was just the start of her multiple sclerosis journey.  A journey which led to her being unable to work and being thankful for being covered under her employer's Group Income Protection Policy, which ultimately proved invaluable to Alex and her family.

It’s a life changing diagnosis multiple sclerosis, knowing that its never going to go away, that there is a deterioration trying to come to terms with all of that, you really do need some kind of emotional support.

Alex's employer referred her to Aviva during her absence from work. 

We were there to help provide that emotional and therapeutic support through our partnership with Working To Wellbeing. 

As well as providing the vital help Alex needed, Julie was able to give vocational rehab support to Alex, because very often in a clinical setting, work isn’t necessarily part of the conversation. 

We'll hear now from Alex and Julie about that support as well as the financial aspect to the Group Income Protection claim.

Julie was there to support me to talk through kind of how I was feeling about it and to give me some coping mechanisms as well, in particular I remember her being very good at explaining to me how I needed to pace myself.

With the support of Julie at Working to Wellbeing I made a phased return to work.  But it has meant I've only ever really managed 12 hours a week, but Aviva have continued to support me throughout that time and they have been topping up my salary.

The policy, I’ve been blown away by it to be honest, I never knew a policy like that could exist. It’s meant that my husband and I, we’ve been able to kind of, I don’t want say, stay on track, but stay on track for what you’d expect maybe people of our age group to be able to do. To have a house, to have a family, to have a life and not have to be worrying about financial stresses.

I never ever in a million years would have thought that I would have needed any cover such as the Group Income Protection cover but obviously, I have, I’m living proof of that. I honestly think that it’s the best benefit that my employer could have ever given to his employees.

Julie, you were able to join us for the filming, weren’t you?

It was actually so lovely to meet Alex face to face. It was the first time we’d met in 3D because we deliver a tele-based service and we rarely have the opportunity to see somebody so it was lovely.  We built a strong rapport during our sessions so to meet her in the flesh was like the cherry on the cake of our work together. It was lovely. And it was lovely that day, she was telling me that it was so helpful to have someone to talk to while she was learning to adapt to her new diagnosis. 

And to be able to put those tools and techniques into action to help her self-manage her symptoms. She was also telling me that day that it was helpful to have work focussed support and help with her return to work planning. As you’ve heard from Alex herself and Lynda too, one of the key elements we worked through was that pacing aspect to try and help her to manage her fatigue.  All of that helps together with a return to work focus.

But I also know for Alex, particularly, the financial support that you provided to Alex was absolutely invaluable and took a significant worry off her mind whilst she concentrated on learning to live with and manage a new diagnosis. I don’t want to have any spoiler alerts as I know for when the full video is released but for example that financial side of the policy really helped her to buy food, good quality food to support a diet that helped to manage her symptoms. But it also enabled her to buy specialist items such as walking boots to help with her mobility.  So all these things were really crucial to her recovery.

Thank you, we’ll discuss Group Critical Illness.

So we’ve worked really hard to support our customers and last year we paid nearly 500 claims.  Having Group Critical Illness cover in place could give your clients employees a financial cushion or safety net to help them focus on their health instead of their finances.

So again those headline stats at the top. We paid over £35 million pounds with an average pay-out of almost £72,000 which is a strangely similar to the amount paid in our individual protection team.

The lead cause for claim is the same as well for Group as they are Individual.  On the Group side, 62% of claims are cancer related with heart attack and stroke at 9% and 6%. 

The age band 40-59 is the one where we see most claims presented. Something we’re really proud of is that 93% of our customers rated us as either a 9 or 10 as far as the service they received from Aviva when making a critical illness claim.

So, no-one likes to think or hear about a child needing to undergo surgery or being diagnosed with a life changing condition.  It’s just terrible. 

But last year we paid out over £311,000 in child cover benefit and 3 of those payments were for children who were born with a critical illness. The lead cause of claims were for cancer and children’s intensive care benefit – this last one being one of 7 child specific conditions we cover under our Group Critical Illness Product.

But we don’t just stop there.  Our claims team are able to activate the Project Teddy protocol where they have a little discretion to make the going a little bit easier for the child or their parents. It could be anything from a restaurant voucher for mum and dad who need a break or a treat such as cinema tickets for the family.

But, next, we have another case study lined up for you and that’s with one of my very own colleagues, Gordon, who is going to tell you his own.

Hi Jason thanks for that.

Good morning everyone, my name is Gordon. I’m 54 and I work as a sales manager at Aviva, in our Individual Protection business.

As an Aviva employee I’m automatically enrolled in a Group income Protection scheme. And several years ago I took out a Group Critical Illness cover through our flexible benefits. I sell Critical Illness every day, have done for years, so I know the benefits well, but like all insurance I hoped it was something I’d never actually have to claim on.

So my story goes back maybe two and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with a thing called diverticulitis – I was experiencing lots of abdominal pain – and after a scan in Accident and Emergency I was told that small bags had formed in my bowel and one had ruptured which was causing the pain. I was given antibiotics and told to make some dietary changes. I was told that someone would be in touch with me, but I told them that they didnt need to be as I was able to use the Aviva DigiCare+ Workplace app. I’d registered for that and I got a nutritionist appointment within 48 hours. 

Fast forward to 18 months later I started to get the exact same feeling in my stomach.

I called my GP and he put it down to diverticulitis again and he prescribed me the same anti-biotics that id had previously. But this time the medication didn’t help.

A week later I phoned my GP again, and I was given more antibiotics, but I still felt absolutely awful.

The pain got so bad that one day in work I almost passed out. I felt so ill. I went home, and I went to bed.

The next day I called my boss to let him know I wouldn’t be at work. He persuaded me to go straight to A&E as I was getting no joy from the antibiotics that id been given by my doctor. 

Went to A&E and they scanned me and found I had a burst appendix. I had the operation that day to remove it. 

The next day the surgeon told me he didn’t like the look of the bit of colon that my appendix attaches to, he took some of it away and he sent it away for tests.

Three weeks later I received a call to go to hospital. They wouldn’t discuss it over the phone – so I knew it wasn’t likely to be good news.

When I arrived in hospital the next day, I went into the room and I saw that there was a Macmillan nurse. I knew then that it wasn’t good news.

I was told I had a rare, aggressive cancer called Goblets Cell cancer. My appendix had been riddled with it, and they also found it in my colon, and after reviewing the scan, they found it in my intestine as well.

As my appendix had ruptured, it had spread cancer cells around my body, and so I needed three months of chemotherapy to try to eliminate the cancer.

After my diagnosis, I sat down with my wife and explained about various policies and pension plans I had. At that point I hadn’t really thought about my Group Critical Illness cover – the bigger stuff seemed more pressing. Then working in insurance as I do, I obviously remembers I had critical illness cover, so I called Aviva to submit my claim.  They needed confirmation of my diagnosis from my oncologist which I sent them. And 6 days later after I sent off the oncologist letter I got a call from the Claims department.

Ironically they called me whilst I was actually just hooked up to receive my first round of chemotherapy. They confirmed my claim was successful and the payment would be in my bank account in just 5 working days.

My wife was just amazed when she saw our bank statement. I’ve worked in this industry for 33 years selling critical illness and yet my wife still asked ‘what’s critical illness cover’? And she says I never listen to her!

As soon as I was diagnosed, that’s when costs started to go up.

My wife is self-employed, so from day one, going in for the diagnosis, she missed many, many days off work – all unpaid obviously. She came to every appointment and every treatment session with me. There were endless travel costs to and from the hospital. Heating costs went up because I now feel the cold due to the treatment I was going through.

But it’s the dietary changes that were one of the biggest expenses. Certain foods during treatment would just make me want to vomit – so we were buying food almost every day, and I was recycling far too much food at the end of every week. Because as I said you know I looked at some foods, I would think yeah, when we’re in the supermarket that looks tasty then I would come to actually eat something and it would make me feel sick.

I had to be very regimented when and what I ate. I had to take tablets three times a day.

I was eating a punnet of grapes every day – costing around £21 a week, just on grapes. Fresh orange juice – I was going through 2 litres a day but I craved it – and I was still buying all the other food that a normal family of four with two grown up sons needed to buy. I also had random cravings, one of them was strawberries with a blue cheese dip – I actually thought at the time it was a tase sensation. Now when I think about it, no, I couldn’t do that again.

So during my treatment I was unable to work.

On a Friday, three days after finishing my chemo I was scanned. On the Monday I received a call confirming they could find no cancer.

However my consultant confirmed that for this particular sort  of cancer there was a 50% chance of it returning. So was referred to the Basingstoke peritoneal malignancy institute and they recommended a 10 hour operation. The exact name of it is a complete cycle reduction with hot chemotherapy wash.

I went down there. It took 10 hours. After the operation I spent three days in intensive care and another 11 days on the high dependency ward, during all this time my self-employer wife spent two weeks in Basingstoke, again unpaid and costs continued to spiral.

I was initially off work for three months during my chemotherapy. I then went back to work for a short time on a phased return. Then the operation in Basingstoke meant another three months off work.

It was during this time my employers Group Income Protection policy kicked in. That substituted my loss of earnings by 50%. And that was a huge relief.

This was all during a period of high life expense – so as well as the increased costs of cancer, my son was starting his first year at University. That meant a new laptop, a new phone and all the other associated costs of sending your kid to university. We were in a cost of living crisis and our house was midway through renovations. Plus my wife was also missing a lot of her income due to being self-employed.

Despite all the pain, the hospital visits and the treatment I had to undergo, Aviva made it easy and simple for me, every step of the way.

Crikey Gordon that’s incredible. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I guess it would be good to know first, how you are now?

It’s not all plain sailing. Through the Group Income Protection policy I receive regular calls from Working To Wellbeing. In fact I’ve got a call on Thursday with one counsellor and I’ve got a call on Friday with another, and that’s really to help me with my fear of the cancer returning again – to live in the day rather than thinking about what might happen in the future.

I still experience some pain, which feels like what it originally felt like, as in the diverticulitis, running up to the cancer diagnosis, but I know that’s from the operation. I’ve explained the pains and I have been told its just from the operation and it’ll take time to recover.

For the next five years I will undergo regular blood tests and scans to keep a check on me.

But the main thing Jason,  the cancer has had a huge impact. I manage a team that sell critical illness, and they’re on the phones all day every day, and with cancer being the biggest area of claims it’s something that we talk about every day, and I hear them talking about it. And I cant listen to cancer stories any more.  So I’ve made the decision that im going to retire in November this year.

The operation has also left me with certain numbness in certain parts of my body and because of some of the bits that they’ve cut out of me, I now have a vitamin B12 deficiency so I experience extreme fatigue, which is absolutely awful.

So at the moment i’m back at work full time but I’m absolutely shattered continually.

I mean, it sounds like a tough gig.

It is. But the good thing is, with the Group Critical illness the payout at least meant that none of our plans or commitments had to be interrupted. For me, the only disruption was having cancer.

I mean, what would have been the impact of not having any cover in place?

It would have been significant. The way we work in our house is that I deal with the big stuff and my wife deals with our finances. So ive discussed it with my wife,

Our outgoings were going through roof at a time when earnings were reduced. I when I my wife recently what would it have led to if we didn’t have cover, she said credit card debt or an overdraft. Being unable to work meant my income stopped it was only a couple of weeks before Christmas, but that’s when the Group Income Protection scheme kicked in.

My wife said that she’d have probably started looking to take a second job, but the fact was she wouldn’t have been able to because the time that she wasn’t working she was spending looking after me basically. Moneywise, the impact on us as a family would have been absolutely huge.

Honestly, I cant thank you enough for being with us today. It’s a tough story to listen to and obviously its very personal to you, so thank you for sharing and sharing your experience with us.

For our penultimate section, Sophie is back with us and is going to share our Group Life numbers. So Sophie over to you.

Thank you Jason. So, Group Life Assurance - a benefit that is sometimes overlooked but we know is incredibly important to the surviving family helping to relieve any financial stress they might have at an incredibly difficult time.

Last year we paid nearly a quarter of a billion pounds of life assurance claims and that was helping the families of over 2,000 employees, and an average benefit paid was up from the previous year to nearly £117,000.

Now the youngest claim was for an 18 year old on our conventional schemes, with the average age at claim being 54 and the oldest was 74 years of age. 

Perhaps surprisingly the age band that most claimants were in was 40-59 but its no surprise probably that the lead cause of claim was cancer at 40% and sadly it’s still the lead cause of claim across all 3 of our products.

Heart disease was the second most common cause of claim and it is especially sad to see that suicide does feature as the third most common cause of claim.

We are at Aviva particularly proud of the speed with which we settle these claims, making speedy payment to trustees on average 4.4 days after the claim was initially submitted.  We know that bereavement is an incredibly stressful time for the surviving family so we are absolutely committed to making settlements as quickly as we can so that we’re not adding in financial stress at a difficult time. 

We are also proud of the average speed of payment for COVID related claims which according to GRiD’s claims survey of 2022 ours were the fastest in the Group Risk market at 2.85 days.

Thank you Sophie, and now I’m going to introduce you to Lou from Grief Encounter who will show the invaluable support that’s in place for loved ones and surviving members following bereavement.

Grief Encounter is a long-standing charity partner to Aviva and Lou joins us to talk about the incredible work they do.  Please, if you’re able to donate, and we’ll get onto that very shortly, please get to it because Lou and the team continue their fantastic work and they require those donations, so Lou over to you.

Thank you Jason. Good morning everybody.  Before I begin, I'd just like to start by playing a very short 60 second video.

(Grief Encounter ‘Where’s mum’ video)

So, we all know that experiencing the death of a loved one is devastating. Without support, children are more likely to experience mental health problems, withdraw from family, friends, and school, have trouble sleeping, rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms, experience financial difficulties in adulthood, and are more likely to become involved in violence.

Grieving families are often unaware of the potential, devastating impact of not accessing professional support for their children. If a child’s grief isn’t addressed properly they could suffer in silence for months, if not years. One thing that we always talk about at the charity, is if you go to school with a broken arm, friends would know that are in pain. But if you have a broken heart, your pain is unseen and therefore just not talked about.

Grief Encounter exists to relieve some of the emotional distress caused by the death of loved one. As a charity we are completely focused on grief and bereavement and provide a flexible and bespoke range of services. Whilst our core purpose is to help children and young people up to the age of 25 who have experienced the death of either mum, dad or sibling, we know how important it is to help the remaining parent and therefore incorporate the needs of the whole family in everything that we do.

Our core work is providing specialist one-to-one therapeutic intervention with a specialist grief counsellor. We have a really special team here at Grief Encounter who assess referrals and work very sensitively with families to match them with a counsellor who can provide the most appropriate support, dependant upon the age of the child, their interests, any additional needs, where they live and so on.  That counsellor will then remain with that family, continuously assessing and monitoring their needs and progress. On average, children and families see their specialist bereavement counsellor for about a year but we provide support for as long as they need it. 

We set ourselves apart from other bereavement charities by offering an additional package of services that families can access. These include things such as:

Group therapy which is split into age-appropriate sets and also covering topics as identified by the need of families we are supporting. For example at the moment we are running a death by suicide group for adults to provide them with support and tools on areas such as how to explain to their child or children how mummy or daddy died.

We put on family fun days, providing important respite as well as a chance for children and parents to socialise with other bereaved families. Some of the events we have put on include a very popular Fishing day, we’ve been to Go Ape, bowling events and trips to Harry Potter World – all kinds of really fun things

We put on residential weekends every year, these weekends provide bereaved children and families an opportunity to have a break to offer important time in a safe space with Grief Encounter for healing and socialising. 

And we put on workshops because we understand how incredibly difficult certain days of the year are for families i.e. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day etc.

The flexibility of our work allows children and their families to access the level of support that suits their needs and interests. Some families may prefer specialist one-to-one art or music based therapeutic intervention only and are not ready to discuss their grief within a group. Others may start with us on a fun day, which can be less intense if their grief is too raw to talk about in a 121 session. Our tailored service empowers families with really positive coping strategies and useful resources to grieve in their own way.

So at a time when the world can seem confusing, frightening, and very lonely, we improve the long-term emotional and psychological health and well-being of the people in our care. In the last year, referrals have increased by 55%, with at least half of those needing face-to-face support and clinical intervention. With about 45,000 children and young people experiencing the death of a sibling or a parent every year, to put it into context that’s 127 children  every single day, we are currently not fully achieving our vision of a world where no child grieves alone.

Now all of the services we provide at Grief Encounter are completely free of charge and we rely entirely on voluntary donations to do absolutely everything that we do.

The front door to our charity is our helpline, Grieftalk. Grieftalk is a national, free service providing instant emotional support for anyone who is bereaved.

No matter how recent or distant the bereavement, our trained grieftalk staff can and have helped hundreds and thousands of people through their unimaginable journey of grief.

A child could chat to one of our advisors if they are feeling sad about the death of a parent, missing them or just want to ask a question about what happens after death.

Through some exploration of a child’s inner world and imagination, we are able to allow children to feel a sense of safeness within their very scary world. Our free helpline is available to anyone and we do our best to provide an understanding, listening ear, and attempt to answer some very important, but not always easy questions, these may include things such as:

 “Should I take my child to a funeral?

 “How do I tell my child that I am dying?”

 “How do I tell my friends that my dad has killed himself?”

Grieftalk has a webchat and an email facility which means that if any of you need to reach out to us for some instant advice or support about a customer or a colleague you might be concerned about as they may be showing signs of not coping very well with their grief, you have direct access into a qualified professional who will respond to you directly.

So please don’t forget that we are here to help answer some of the hardest questions such as, as we heard at the beginning, ‘Where’s Mum?’

Thank you everybody.

So thanks Lou.

If you are able to please help Lou continue the great work that Grief Encounter does by texting GRIEF to 70145.  Every single donation will be gratefully received.

The loss of a loved one is difficult at any age.   I take comfort knowing that we as Aviva have taken steps to try and make that a little easier from making payments incredibly quickly, to the bereavement counselling sessions and bereavement guide to help guide families through what needs to be done after a loss of a loved one.

What is closest to my heart as a parent, is the support provided to the children who have lost a loved one, and the amazing support provided by Grief Encounter.

For those of you that don’t know, I have been passionately campaigning for a number of years that we focus on the life part of group life cover.  Bringing something tangible to those in our care before the very worst happens.

 This ambition was realised at the end of the last year when we launched our campaign “for life, not just the end of it”. And now im going to share with you another video to talk about that campaign.

(Aviva Group Life video)

So hopefully everyone enjoyed the video.

The Red Apple Law services referred to in the video provide a tangible value added benefit to those employees whether they are insured or not under an Aviva Group Life policy. 

The service which was introduced this year gives access to a wide range of legal services from making a will to arranging Powers of Attorney and after death an Estate Administration service to help those bereaved families safely navigate through the process at what is a very difficult time for them.

As you’ve seen, we went a step further with our wellbeing services by offering the Aviva Digicare+ Workplace app to all insured employees covered by our Group Life Assurance. 

This app gives valuable access to preventative help and support which can be shared with family members.  In short, the app, provided by Square Health, provides Digital GP access, an annual Health Check using 20 blood markers to measure things like cholesterol levels and liver health.  It also provides nutritional consultations, mental health consultations and for peace of mind a second opinion service.

The current strain on the NHS had made these services all the more important and as you can see on the slide 48% of all app appointments were for Digital GP appointments with 97% of them being available within 24 hours.  I wish I could see my own GP so quickly. 

The most popular service utilised by far though was the annual health check.  Since we launched Digicare+ Workplace we have seen over 26,000 health checks ordered with over 10,750 of them alone ordered this year to date.  It’s absolutely amazing – and that's nearly 70 health checks ordered each calendar day. The results have clearly shown the importance of prevention by early detection.

And finally, let’s take a look at the full range of wellbeing services available under our product range. 

Those available under all products include Aviva Digicare+ Workplace, Get Active, our Mental Health toolkits for line managers and employees together with our Wellbeing Library.

Get Active gives employees access to discounts at over 3,000 health and fitness clubs.  I’m especially proud though of the Get Active cancer care part of this range.  Here employees can help support their family or even friends that are going through their cancer journey by providing discounts on days out or recuperative family breaks and practical help like supporting the daily living adjustments a cancer diagnosis and treatment could bring which we’ve heard lots about today.

We’re also showing some of the usage rates for many of the wellbeing services where through our EAP with Care First, we’ve helped support nearly 35,000 employees with Counselling and nearly 30,000 employees interacting with the Thrive Mental Health App.

The mental health support continues with nearly 14,000 plays of videos from our mental health toolkit for both employees and line managers. 14,000 plays.

Into a quick wrap up. We’ve covered the claims numbers and how we went beyond, you’ve heard some customer stories, the wellbeing and rehabilitation services.

And now I think you can see I’m being moved on to a thank you and close. So look ladies and gentlemen thank you very much for joining us. Thank you to the panel, and behind the scenes we had Dave Matthews and Kerry Williams working hard and have got us in ship shape order. So thank you everyone, really appreciate it, and I hope you enjoyed our first ever claims webinar.

Group Protection Claims Report

Our claims report provides a record of our 2022 claims data and insight, along with other key information demonstrating how Aviva Group Protection was there for so many employees and employers.

But. Don’t just take our word for it

Take a look at some of our customer stories and see what people like you have to say about the expertise and support they received from Aviva Group Protection.

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Transcript  for video Alex's story

I’m, Alex, and I’m 37 years old, I live in Cornwall with my husband, my little girl, and my little dog Elsa.

I work at an insurance brokers, and I was working there full time, and after I’d been working there a few months, my toes started to go numb.

Roll on six weeks later and I’d been waking up every morning and the numbness had been spreading so at that point it was maybe up to the top of my legs. At this point I went to see my GP.

They kind of said I think you’ve got some inflammation in your back; I think it’s a trapped nerve and just sent me away.

And then a couple of weeks after that it all got a bit serious because the numbness had spread up to my waist.

But then they said you need to see a neurologist. And then basically just said that it was anxiety and then sent me home.

Yes, so I took two weeks off and yeah it just kept getting worse. It was at this time that my employer contacted Aviva.

I was fortunate enough to be covered under a Group Income Protection scheme.

They referred my case to Working To Wellbeing.

Working To Wellbeing is an organisation that supports people with long term conditions to be able to self-manage their condition

And we also support people to return to work when ready

So, it’s really important to be able to provide vocational rehabilitation support to people.

We do make sure to focus on someone’s physical health, mental health, and cognitive health, because we know that they all relate to each other.

What’s important to me is to understand the symptoms she was experiencing, the impact of that diagnosis on her day-to-day life and where work fitted in with the whole scenario.

So, I got a really good understanding from that initial call with her about what her needs were.

They were primarily around fatigue and fatigue management, the symptoms she was experiencing around numbness, around the cognitive difficulties she was experiencing. And I started to unpick and understand the relationship between stress and her symptoms and symptom flare up, and what her working situation was. So, we get a sense of what’s going on and what to focus on. We set some goals together on what we wanted to focus on and then we started the clinical health coaching work.

It was the 13th of the month and I was in bay 13 and the medical consultant said your lumber puncture results have come back and it’s showing that you’ve got oligoclonal bands which is suggestive of you having MS.

I went back to work after a week just for one day.  I was so, so tired.

It’s a life changing diagnosis multiple sclerosis, knowing that it’s never going to go away, that there is a deterioration, trying to come to terms with all of that, you really do need some kind of emotional support.

Julie was there to support me to talk through kind of how I was feeling about it and to give me some coping mechanisms as well.

In particular, I remember her being very good at explaining to me how I needed to pace myself.

So, we continued working through different goals that she wanted to achieve and when she was ready, we started to think about gearing up for work.

Starting where she was confident and where she felt she had the capability to do it, and we worked closely with her employer to try and enable that process to make it as smooth as possible for everybody.

At that point the financial support that I’d been getting from my employer ended, and that’s when the claim kicked in with Aviva.

My husband and I have been able to you know, keep our home, we are not having to worry about food, about bills, it’s given us a lot of reassurance and peace of mind.

I have been able to make sure that I’m eating very good quality food, it’s also meant that I have been able to purchase specialist equipment and clothing such as some special hiking boots that help nerve stimulation

If I hadn’t had the financial support there is no way that I’d have been able to have taken advantage of those things, and they have really, really helped me with my condition.

In Alex’s case by the time that we got to the end of our journey together she was back at work for 12 hours, she was managing that process, she was able to communicate her needs to her line manager and her employer and she was sort of better managing the symptoms of multiple sclerosis as well, so she was managing her fatigue and she was managing the relationship between stress, fatigue and the symptoms that were flaring up for her too.

Aviva have continued to support me throughout that time, and they have been topping up my salary.

The policy, I’ve been blown away by it to be honest. To have a family, to have a life and not have to be worrying about financial stresses.

I never ever in a million years would have thought that I would have needed any cover such as the Group Income Protection cover but obviously, I have, I’m living proof of that. I honestly think that it is the best benefit that my employer could have ever given to his employees.

If you’re ill, the worst thing that you can have to deal with is to have that financial stress as well, and the Group Income Protection policy has just taken that away and has just allowed me to focus on managing my condition.

The amount we pay depends upon the type of cover, the payment term and the monthly benefit amount chosen.

For more information on Aviva Group Income Protection, contact your employer, Financial Adviser, or your usual Aviva contact.

Or visit us online, at or search Aviva advisers.

Group Critical Illness customer story

Lisa's benign brain tumour story

At age 54, Lisa had been suffering from headaches for a few months and after seeking medical help she was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour. Lisa subsequently underwent successful surgery to remove the tumour.

Her employer held a Group Critical Illness policy with Aviva, and after Lisa's diagnosis and surgery, she contacted Aviva to understand more about the cover and any financial support she may be eligible to receive.

Group Income Protection rehabilitation customer stories

On top of financial support, Aviva continued to go above and beyond in 2022, supporting employees in many ways, whether practically, clinically, emotionally or physically.

Kevin’s back and leg pain story

Kevin was experiencing increasing pain in his lower back and leg. After a referral to our rehabilitation partner for physiotherapy he saw a reduction in his symptoms and was able to stay in work and get back to playing golf.

Alison’s cancer story

Alison was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She received support through the Cancer Work Support service to help her both physically and practically during a difficult time.

Derek’s back pain story

After an increase in back pain, which had increased over several months Derek received physiotherapy support from Aviva’s rehabilitation partner which helped him to stay at work and aid his recovery.

Wellbeing services – customer stories

Aviva Group Protection policies give employees access to the Aviva DigiCare+ Workplace app, provided by Square Health. It helps users detect, manage and prevent physical and mental health problems.

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I’m Gregg Parker, I live over in Redditch with my partner Kate. We’ve got a little girl, Frankie, who’s eight, and that’s my family.

I work as a sales manager in mortgage services which I’ve done for nearly twenty years now.

I’d been having problems with my foot for a few years, getting progressively worse. It was getting to a point where roughly every three months it would keep me off my feet for about a week.

And at the time I was going to the GP to try and work out what was wrong with it ultimately.

Initially they thought it could be ill-fitting shoes, but obviously the pain kept coming back. They sent me for x-rays but that again didn’t return any results and they were looking for kind of an underlying break or fracture or something along those lines, that wasn’t the case.

When I wasn’t getting any immediate answers on the problem with my foot, I remembered through the Aviva protection cover, that I could go through the annual health check.

It was really easy to order the health check through the app, on doing so I think it asked for a couple of basic measurements and then I would send off for the kit and it arrived within a couple of days.

The test itself was pretty straightforward. It was just a pin prick on the finger, drawing a few drops of blood, which I didn’t find too bad to do at all and then that was sent back obviously for analysis. And two or three days later I got like a PDF on an email, and you can access the same thing through the app with the results.

There was different things they were testing for, and one of those was gout. Which was ultimately is what it highlighted in me being outside of the normal range.

It also gave me the option of having an online consultation with a GP to discuss the results of the test.

The consultation itself was a video call, so it felt really personable, and really easy to do. So that was about a day or two after I’d had the results back and I was having that consultation with that GP.

We all know what it’s like trying to get a GP appointment these days and that’s nothing I had to worry about, so it made it really simple.

And through conversation with that GP, and what I was telling him about the issues with my foot, and the results of the test they then advised to return to my GP with that information, which ultimately got me the right diagnosis.

So, i guess in terms of the DigiCare app, these things would cost a fair amount of money if paid for privately.

Having used it I suppose the ease, the experience, the quickness of getting the results through and how easy that was to do made it a really simple process.

I’ll be looking to do the health check annually moving forward. I have just done the recent one and obviously I guess because of the medication I’m on it was pleasing to see the gout was within the normal range, so obviously the medication is doing its job.

Without the benefit of the DigiCare app and the results of the health check, I guess the problems with the foot would have continued, possibly even got worse, and I’m not really sure if I’d have got to this point today, whether I’d have had a result, an outcome, and it would have started to impact on being able to work.

It seems quite a small thing, but quite a life changing thing if you consider where it could have gone.

For more information on Aviva protection products and the wellbeing services available, visit us online or speak to your financial adviser or your employer.

The Annual Health Check and Digital GP service are wellbeing services available with the Aviva DigiCare+ app, that is accessible with Aviva Protection products, and the Aviva DigiCare+ Workplace app, that is accessible with Aviva Group Protection products.

The apps and services are provided by Square Health.

They are non-contractual benefits that Aviva can change or withdraw at any time.

Aviva DigiCare+ Workplace is a non-contractual benefit which Aviva can change or withdraw at any time. Terms and residency restrictions apply.

Making a claim

Our dedicated UK claims handlers are trained to deal with calls in a sensitive manner. They’ll deal with the claim from start to finish, answering any questions and making sure the claim is dealt with as quickly as possible.

For employees with a medical condition, our team of claims assessors and clinical experts have an in-depth understanding of conditions and needs and will help ensure the employee receives the right support throughout the process.

We deal with each claim on an individual basis, keeping the right people updated throughout the process.

Once we’ve agreed to pay the claim and have all the information we need, we’ll make the payment as quickly as possible.

Making a Group Life claim

Making a Group Critical Illness claim

Making a Group Income Protection claim

Frequently Asked Questions

Group Life

Group Critical Illness

Group Income Protection

Our Group Protection products

Group Life

Financial support for loved ones if an employee dies in service, as well as access to everyday health and wellbeing services.

Group Critical Illness

We’ll pay your employees a tax-free lump sum if they’re diagnosed with a critical illness, or undergo surgery covered by the policy, and survive for at least 14 days from diagnosis.

Group Income Protection

We can support employees on long-term absence due to illness or injury, and our clinical intervention is designed to help them make a safe, timely return to work.

Haven’t found what you’re looking for?

Please speak to your financial adviser. If you do not have one, you can find one at

Or simply get in touch with your Aviva Group Protection Client Relationship Manager if you have one.