Unlike a lot of the UK working population, you’ve come to the conclusion that, should you get ill and can no longer work, or do the job you currently do, or need to go long-term sick, you couldn’t get by on your sick pay. So should life see an unfortunate change in your circumstances, what would your options be? You couldn’t survive on government benefits; you don’t have enough savings; your partner couldn’t support you; and there’s no possibility for taking early retirement; therefore you need some sort of income protection insurance.
That, at least is one positive decision made. However it can be a bit of a minefield out there, in terms of finding the right policy to suit you and your family. Therefore the question you’re probably asking yourself is: which kind of income protection do I need and how do I find it?
This article seeks to take a bit of the mystery away from this, relatively unknown and underutilised, insurance. Most people don’t realise that most employers don’t support staff if they’re off sick for more than a year and Statutory Sick Pay from the Government will not cover most people’s mortgage and typical household outgoings.
What is Income Protection insurance?
So what is Income Protection and how can it provide the peace of mind you’re looking for? In simple terms, if you can’t work due to sickness or disability, this insurance cover will provide you with a tax-free ‘income’ until you can either return to work, or you reach retirement age.
One of the essential considerations when asking, ‘Which kind of income protection do I need?’ is whether you’re looking for an income should you be made redundant. Income Protection does not cover redundancy but there are policies that will cover this such as Accident, Sickness and Unemployment cover, which should be discussed with an adviser due to the limitations of the policy required.
Another consideration before taking out an income protection policy is whether you’re already covered. Some employers, although not many, do offer this as a benefit, so it’s worth checking your contract or employment handbook first as any continuing income from an employer will impact on the ability to claim on the policy.
How much Income Protection Cover do I need?
This typically will depend on three main considerations:
1 - What percentage of your income you'll require (the policy benefit).
2 - How long you think you'll require the policy to pay you (the policy term and type, i.e full Income Protection or Limited/Budget Income Protection).
3 - How long you think you can get by before the policy will start to pay out (i.e. the 'deferred period' you select).
In terms of income, you can normally insure for up to 65% of your pre-tax salary. It’s key to not underestimate this in order to keep the cost of the premium down. You’ll therefore need to take into account whether the income payout will cover all of your essential outgoings, such as food, utility bills and mortgage.
So, what are the different types of Income Protection?
In regards to length of pay out, there are two main types of policy: Short Term Income Protection Policies and Full Term Income Protection Policies.
Short term policies generally only pay an income for two years, although a payment period of 1 and 5 years can be selected with some providers, and you need to be aware of this when asking which kind of income protection I need. Longer term income protection insurance policies tend to provide a monthly income until you’re either well enough to return to work or until the end of the policy term.
Finally, you will need to choose how long you’ll be happy to wait until the Income Protection policy will start to provide the ‘income’, i.e. the ‘deferred period’. The Policy cost will factor this in. The waiting period can be as little as one day, to as long as 104 weeks. Choosing a longer deferred period reduces the cost of the premium.
How can I cut the cost of an Income Protection policy?
A full Income Protection policy will usually cover a certain percentage of your income until retirement, whilst you’re out of work due to illness or incapacitation. The alternative is to rely on Government benefits, but depending on your circumstances at the time, you may not be eligible to receive them, and the likelihood is that they won’t cover all of your monthly outgoings. Reducing the cost of an Income Protection policy depends on balancing the risk of not being able to cover all your financial liabilities against the monthly or annual insurance premium.
Before you purchase any Income Protection policy we recommend you review your personal situation first and write down your monthly budget requirement. A robust evaluation will enable you to gauge a true picture of what you really need and this in turn could reduce your premium cost.
Speak to one of our expert advisers today to find out more about Income Protection and what options you may have.
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