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Most employers offer life assurance as a benefit but employees are unaware they do

Nine out of 10 businesses offer life assurance as part of their benefits package, yet more than half of workers are unaware they receive it as an employee benefit, according to research by Aon Consulting.

In August 2008, HR magazine reported three quarters (77%) of employees claim they do not receive employer-provided life insurance although 40% of staff in the UK were in receipt of this benefit - but the latest statistics from Aon prove the problem is growing.

Aon's research found that 95% of companies offer some level of group life assurance to their employees. Of this 95%, 69% of companies offer cover to all employees, with 25% offering it to some of the workforce, and a further 1% awarding it on an employee-paid basis. Meanwhile, just over half of employees (54%) said they thought life assurance was not provided to them.

This significant gap between employee awareness and reality shows businesses are failing to communicate the true value of benefits packages at a time when they are more important than ever in the war for talent.

And some employees are potentially duplicating their cover by purchasing life insurance that is already provided by their employer, while others have insufficient cover.

Paul White, head of risk benefits at Aon Consulting, said: "This research highlights the communications gap around life assurance and employee benefits in general.

"In the current climate, a significant number of employers have frozen or even reduced salaries, meaning that the benefits they offer assume even greater importance in the overall remuneration package for employees.

"There is a genuine opportunity for businesses to stress that they give their workforce much more than what is in their pay packet. Life assurance is an essential benefit that provides a degree of financial security in the event of death. While employer-provided cover may not be at the right level to meet all employees' needs, it does offer some level of protection."