Brits ‘more likely to insure pets than against illness’

Income protection is to come under the spotlight in a new research initiative looking at ways to encourage more people to take out the cover.

InsurerZurichsaid on 11 November that it would be working with Kyla Malcolm, an income protection expert, to examine which segments of the working population stood to gain from improved coverage and where improved coverage could deliver the biggest savings to taxpayers. The research is set for publication in early 2014.

Zurichsaid that while the government had taken a series of steps to encourage private retirement savings in theUK, the private provision of disability insurance had lagged behind, even though the risk of under-provision for disability could be even greater than that of not saving for retirement.

It said that 75 million working days per year were lost through long-term sickness yet only around nine per cent of people in theUKcurrently has income protection.

In terms of annual savings, it is estimated that if percentage of people in theUKwith income protection reached the 30 per cent level of theUS, the benefit to the taxpayer would be £1.2 billion a year and individuals would gain an income advantage of £0.5 to £1 billion.

Gary Shaughnessy, chief executive officer of Zurich UK Life, said: “Across theUKwe remain hugely under insured and we are more likely to insure our pet than our ability to provide financial support to our families in the event of illness.

“We need a greater public debate about how we can encourage wider coverage. The cost to business, the cost to those people whose lives are turned upside down by illness, and the cost to the state, including an ever-increasing pressure on an already overburdened NHS, mean the current state of affairs is unsustainable.”