Help us to serve you better!

We use your shopping experience data to improve our services.

Many individuals may find it challenging to manage their essential expenses, such as mortgage or rent, if they experience a loss of income due to illness or an accident. Income protection serves as a long-term insurance solution designed to ensure a steady income stream until retirement or the ability to return to work is regained. Discover how this insurance operates, when it becomes necessary, and the key considerations involved in purchasing it.

Income protection insurance offers financial support by providing a regular income in case you are unable to work due to illness or disability. This coverage remains in effect until you either resume paid employment or reach retirement age. Commonly referred to as permanent health insurance, this type of policy ensures ongoing financial stability during periods of incapacity.

It’s important to note that the income you receive through this insurance may not match your pre-incapacity earnings precisely. Typically, you can expect to receive approximately half to two-thirds of your pre-tax earnings from your usual employment. This adjustment accounts for deductions made for any state benefits you may be eligible for and the fact that the income from the policy is tax-free.

Upon falling ill or becoming disabled, you cannot immediately begin claiming income protection payments. There is usually a waiting period, typically a minimum of four weeks, before payments commence. However, payments may be delayed for up to two years after you cease working. This waiting period allows for potential receipt of sick pay from your employer or eligibility for statutory sick pay, which can cover you for up to 28 weeks following cessation of work.

  1. How Income Protection Insurance Operates:
  • Income protection insurance offers regular payments to supplement a portion of your income if you become unable to work due to illness or injury.
  • These payments continue until you can resume working, reach retirement age, pass away, or reach the end of the policy term, whichever occurs first.
  • Typically, income protection covers between 50% and 65% of your income during periods of incapacity.
  • It encompasses most illnesses that render you incapable of working, whether temporarily or long-term, depending on policy specifics.
  • The policy allows for multiple claims throughout its duration, catering to recurrent periods of incapacity.

Additionally, income protection policies often include a predefined waiting period, also known as a deferred period, before payments commence. Common waiting periods range from 4 weeks to a year, with longer waiting periods resulting in lower monthly premiums.

It’s essential to note that income protection differs from critical illness insurance, which disburses a one-time lump sum in the event of specific serious illnesses.

  1. When Income Protection Insurance Is Necessary:
  • Despite the assumption that employers will continue to provide some form of income during illness or injury, most employees are transitioned to Statutory Sick Pay within six months.
  • Few employers offer extended support beyond one year for sick leave. It’s crucial to understand your employer’s sick leave policies.
  • Depending on personal savings, the loss of income can quickly jeopardize the ability to meet essential financial obligations like mortgage or utility payments.
  • Self-employed individuals face additional challenges as they lack sick pay benefits typically offered by employers.

In summary, income protection insurance serves as a vital safeguard against the financial repercussions of illness or injury, ensuring continued financial stability during periods of incapacity, especially in scenarios where employer support is limited or unavailable.

  1. Who might not find income protection insurance necessary?

Income protection insurance might not be needed if:

  • You have sufficient sick pay coverage, such as through an employee benefits package that offers income support for at least 12 months.
  • Government benefits could adequately cover your expenses if they are enough.
  • You possess enough savings to sustain yourself, although it’s important to consider the longevity of these savings.
  • Early retirement is a viable option for you.
  • Your partner or family members can provide the necessary support, such as if your partner’s income covers both of your needs.
  1. How much does income protection insurance typically cost?

The monthly premiums you pay for income protection insurance are determined by various factors, including the specifics of your policy and your individual circumstances.

Income protection policies encompass a wide array of illnesses, conditions, and scenarios, so it’s advisable to compare offerings from different insurers.

Factors influencing the cost include:

  • Your age
  • Your occupation
  • Whether you smoke or have a history of smoking
  • The percentage of your income you wish to cover
  • The waiting period (or ‘deferred’ period) before the policy becomes effective
  • The scope of illnesses and injuries covered
  • Your health status, including current health, weight, and family medical history.

Additionally, the cost may vary depending on whether you opt for:

  • A standard premium, which may be subject to increases by the insurer over time, or
  • A guaranteed premium, which remains fixed throughout the duration of your policy.

While guaranteed premiums may entail slightly higher costs in the short term, many individuals prefer the assurance of knowing their future payment obligations.

  1. How can I purchase income protection insurance? 

Premiums can vary significantly, and different insurers may apply distinct criteria. Therefore, it’s advisable to explore different options and conduct thorough research.

To ensure you obtain suitable coverage, seeking advice from an independent financial advisor or specialized broker is recommended. They can guide you through the specifics of available policies and assist you in selecting the most appropriate one for your needs.

It’s important to note that these advisors may charge a fee for their services, or they may receive commission payments from insurance companies.

Additionally, there are specialized brokers and insurers catering to individuals who have previously been declined insurance coverage. This could be due to various reasons such as a medical condition or engaging in an occupation not covered by standard policies.

  1. Considerations to Keep in Mind When Purchasing Income Protection Insurance:

Provide Accurate Medical History:

  • Transparency regarding your medical history is crucial. Ensure you furnish your insurer with all requested information truthfully and accurately. Failure to do so might result in a denied claim when you need it most.

Select Appropriate Coverage Level:

  • Tailor your coverage to your needs by choosing from three main levels:
  • Own occupation: Coverage applies if you’re unable to perform your specific occupation. While this option tends to be pricier, it enhances the likelihood of a successful claim.
  • Suited occupation: Coverage extends if you can’t perform your own job or a similar one that matches your qualifications and experience.
  • Any occupation: Coverage activates if you’re too unwell to engage in any form of work. Although typically more affordable, this option carries a higher risk of non-payment.

Scrutinize the Policy Details:

  • Thoroughly review the policy terms and conditions. Understand precisely what is covered and what isn’t. Keep in mind that definitions and exclusions may differ among insurers. If there’s anything unclear, seek clarification from the insurer, an insurance broker, or a financial adviser.

Utilize the Cooling-off Period:

  • You have a 30-day window after purchasing the policy to reconsider and receive a full refund if needed.

Regularly Update Your Coverage:

  • As life circumstances evolve, periodically reassess your policy to ensure it aligns with your current needs. You may find it necessary to adjust your coverage, such as increasing it due to life events like having a child or taking on a new mortgage, or decreasing it if your employment situation changes, providing more generous sick pay.
  1. How to Terminate Income Protection Insurance

If you wish to cancel your income protection insurance policy, you have the right to request cancellation from your insurer at any time. However, there are important considerations to keep in mind:

  • Replacement Cover: Understand that acquiring a new policy later may be more expensive, especially as premiums tend to increase with age.
  • Pre-existing Conditions: Take into account that pre-existing medical conditions may not be covered under a new policy.
  • Policy Reinstatement: Once you cancel your policy, it cannot be reinstated.

Cancellation Process: Typically, there are no cancellation fees associated with terminating your policy. However, it’s crucial to note that you won’t receive a refund for any premiums already paid; your payments will simply cease.

If you’re experiencing financial difficulties and considering cancellation due to affordability concerns, it’s essential not to hastily terminate your coverage or miss payments. Instead, reach out to your insurer for assistance.

Your insurer is obligated to provide support to customers facing financial hardship. They can outline various options and assistance programs available to you. For instance, they may propose setting up an alternative repayment plan or adjusting your coverage to better align with your needs and reduce costs.

  1. Considerations for Selecting an Income Protection Policy

When evaluating income protection policies, several factors warrant consideration:

Type of Policy:

Income protection policies typically fall into two categories:

  • Indemnity Value Policy: The insured amount is a percentage of your salary at the time of claim. If your salary decreases post-purchase, your monthly insurance payout will be smaller. For individuals with variable income, the insured amount is based on the average annual earnings over a suitable period for the occupation.
  • Agreed Value Policy: The insured amount is a percentage of a predetermined sum agreed upon during policy initiation. Although generally more expensive, these policies can be advantageous for those with fluctuating incomes.

Note: Since March 31, 2020, insurers cannot offer agreed value policies to new customers. Existing holders can maintain their agreed value policies, but new policies can only be indemnity value.

Waiting Period:

This denotes the duration before payments commence. Most income protection policies stipulate waiting periods ranging from 14 days to two years. Eligibility for payments necessitates an inability to work due to illness or injury at the waiting period’s conclusion.

Typically, longer waiting periods correlate with lower policy costs. When selecting a waiting period, consider factors such as available sick and annual leave, savings, and emergency funds.

Benefit Period:

The benefit period indicates how long monthly payments persist if you remain incapable of working due to illness or injury. Most policies offer benefit periods of two or five years or until a specified age (e.g., 65). Longer benefit periods entail higher policy costs but afford greater protection against prolonged incapacity to work.

Premium Structure:

Income protection insurance often offers two premium payment options:

  • Stepped Premiums: Recalculated upon each policy renewal, these premiums typically increase annually reflecting the elevated risk of claims with age.
  • Level Premiums: Initially higher, these premiums remain relatively stable over time as they are not tied to age, resulting in slower increases.

Your selection between stepped and level premiums significantly influences both current and future premium costs.

  1. What to Disclose to Your Insurer

When applying for insurance or making changes to your existing coverage, your insurer will inquire about various aspects of your life, including:

  • Your age
  • Employment details
  • Income sources (such as salary, wages, commissions)
  • Medical background
  • Lifestyle habits (e.g., smoking status)
  • Participation in high-risk sports or hobbies (like skydiving)

If an insurer doesn’t request your medical history, it might indicate that the policy has more limitations or narrower definitions.

The information you provide serves several purposes for the insurer:

  • Assessing whether to provide coverage
  • Determining the premium amounts
  • Establishing terms and conditions for your policy

It’s crucial to respond to these inquiries truthfully. Providing inaccurate or incomplete information could result in the insurer canceling or altering your coverage or rejecting any claims you submit.

  1. Factors Influencing the Cost of Income Protection Insurance

Several factors influence the cost of income protection insurance:

  • Age: The older you are when you acquire the policy, the higher your premiums are likely to be, reflecting the increased risk of illness with age.
  • Health: Better health typically results in lower insurance premiums, as individuals in good health present lower risk to insurers.
  • Occupation: Risky occupations usually incur higher premiums due to the elevated likelihood of injury or illness associated with certain jobs.
  • Hobbies and Lifestyle: Engaging in hazardous hobbies, smoking, or excessive drinking can lead to higher insurance costs, as these behaviors increase the risk of health issues.
  • Waiting Period: Opting for a longer waiting period before making a claim generally leads to lower premiums, as insurers perceive lower immediate risk.
  • Willingness to Do Alternative Work: Being open to other types of employment if unable to perform your current job can affect premiums. Policies may cost less if you agree to only claim benefits if you’re incapable of any form of work rather than just your specific occupation.
  • Cancellation Policy for Income Protection

Upon purchasing income protection insurance, there is typically a 30-day window during which you can cancel the policy and receive a full refund.

After this initial period, canceling the policy may result in a partial refund, which could be less than the total amount paid in premiums. It’s essential to review the terms and conditions of your policy for specific details regarding cancellation.