Does GIP deserve more of the spotlight in the SME market?


Kier Saunders, Key Account Manager

Friday 6th January 2023


It’s expensive. It’s not needed. And it’s a product that simply pays employees while they’re off work. Right? Well, not quite.

Group income protection (GIP) has evolved into a product that all employers should consider. Including SMEs. And here’s why.

The need for GIP

There are 5.6 million SMEs in the UK, making up 99% of all businesses1. And there are over 130 million working days lost to sickness almost every year – with minor illnesses, musculoskeletal problems and mental health conditions individually

So while employers and their people might be worried about serious illnesses, it’s actually the less critical things that add up to more time off.

Keeping employees happy and healthy

Group income protection lets businesses support their people while they’re at work. Not just when they’re off work. Even more handy for SMEs who might not be able to offer their people extra benefits from elsewhere.

GIP now often comes with a range of value added services, from employee assistance programmes (EAPs) to other health and wellbeing benefits. Employee’s insured with AIG Life Group Income Protection, and their families3, have access to the award-winning Smart Health and our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).

With around the clock access to GP appointments, confidential mental health support from a team of experts, nutrition and fitness plans, health checks and second medical opinions – group income protection with Smart Health can help keep employees fighting fit. Which also makes business sense for your SME clients.

An AIG case study

We’ve seen first-hand how Smart Health has helped us as a business. It’s led to fewer of our people taking time off for a doctor’s appointment, whether for themselves or for their kids. Our people have:

  • 57% needed no further medical attention4, and
  • If they hadn’t used the GP service, 80% would’ve physically visited a GP, a specialist or gone to A&E4

A round trip will exceed half an hour, meaning AIG employee Smart Health usage of the GP service alone adds up to – almost 12 working weeks – of time saved for the business.

Getting back to work when the time is right

Time off work can’t always be helped. Meaning work inevitably gets shared amongst the remaining employees – for SMEs this can have a bigger impact – so it’s important the business supports the employee to make a successful, sustained return to work. That’s where GIP comes in.

Typically GIP provides vocational rehab services, and at AIG we partner with the experts at Proclaim Care. Proclaim Care support the employee back to work when the time is right, but also support the employer throughout the process.

Their specialists get to know each unique situation and create a realistic return to work plan for the employee’s transition back to working life. There’s also potential for funded treatments like physiotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy – meaning employers and employees can be confident they’re in good hands.

Keeping the top talent

It’s a competitive jobs market. And employers are looking to stand out from the crowd to attract and retain the best employees. For SMEs, losing your best people, or any people can be tough. Replacing an employee can cost around six to nine months of their salary6.

That’s why it’s important for business to offer a competitive benefits package that goes further than pay. Mental health support is joint top for what employees want to see the most7 – so GIP with Smart Health maybe isn’t such a bad idea from a business perspective.

So, does GIP deserve more of the spotlight?

In my opinion, yes.

  • GIP is beneficial for employers of all sizes, including SMEs
  • There’s an obvious need, depending on the employers circumstances
  • It helps prevent employees needing time off work and supports them back when they’re ready
  • GIP can help attract and retain the top talent

If you want to talk all things GIP just get in touch with your account manager, or give sales support a call.


1 House of Commons Library, Business Statistics, 12/2021
2 ONS, Sickness absence in the UK labour market, 2021
3 Smart Health is available to insured employees, their partner, spouse and their children up to the age of 21
4 Smart Health usage data supplied by Teladoc Health to 30 April 2022
5 AIG Corporate Adviser Article
6 Accounts + legal, Employee cost revealed: Average employee costs SMEs £12,000 to replace,2019
7 GRiD, Group Risk Benefits Survey, 2021
Smart Health is a non-contractual benefit that can be changed or withdrawn in future

Read more SME blogs

Why grow your group protection SME portfolio?

We take a look at why group protection advisers should be looking to grow their SME portfolio.

How to: highlight the value of group protection through Smart Health

Employees are making the most of value added benefits like Smart Health. Here's how you can too.