Income Protection

Receive a monthly benefit if you’re unable to work for any reason physically or mentally.

Most people are happy to insure their cars, their homes, and the things they have in them such as TVs, laptops, etc. They’ll also happily insure their pets. But they often forget to insure the thing that pays for everything — which is their income.

Without an income, how else would you afford monthly outgoings like the mortgage payment, pension provision, parenting or educational costs plus every other living expense?

1 million workers are off sick for more than a month, every year.*

Income Protection is designed to pay you a monthly non-taxable benefit in the event that you cannot work due to an accident, illness, sickness or injury. In fact, insurers will pay the claim if you are unable to do your own occupation for any reason physically or mentally – there isn’t a list of conditions.

This type of policy is very comprehensive, covering any health conditions ranging from cancer and heart disease, to stress and backache.

  • Protect your income and maintain your lifestyle financially.
  • Unnecessary stress and worry is avoided at a difficult time.
  • Long and short-term options available to fit your budget.
  • Include Unemployment Cover in case of redundancy.

The respected consumer champion, Which? states: ‘The one protection policy every working adult in the UK should consider is the very one most of us don’t have – income protection.’

At a time when you don’t receive the regular earnings that you enjoy today, the policy will help ensure that a prolonged period away from work doesn’t cause financial hardship for you and your family.

Income Protection – Cause of Claims & Examples

Income Protection - Cause of Claims & Examples

Why do I need Income Protection if the State will look after me?

Unlike Income Protection, State benefits are not designed to provide you with a replacement income. Most people can’t rely on the State alone in the event of long-term sickness or unemployment, considering:

Statutory Sick Pay can be just £89.35 per week (£387 a month) – paid for up to 28 weeks;

Employment and Support Allowance (if you are self-employed or continue on from SSP) may allow you to receive up to £109.30 per week (£474 a month) and;

Jobseeker’s Allowance is a maximum of £73.10 per week (£317 a month).

Would this even cover your monthly mortgage/rent payment? Think about all of the sacrifices you would have to make. How different would your lifestyle be and how would money worries affect your well-being?

Source: GOV.UK – Tax Year 2017/18

‘My employer will probably continue to pay me.’ Don’t guess - take 60 seconds to clarify

It’s important to understand exactly where you stand with your employer as the financial impact of being unable to work and earn a wage can be extremely severe to both you and your family. Whilst your employer might continue to pay you, it’s important to know how much and for how long. When did you last check?

Your employer must pay you Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you qualify for the benefit and have been off work sick for 4 or more days in a row. This is a decent solution, right? Definitely not. The maximum you could receive for up to 28 weeks is £89.35 per week. That’s less than the average weekly grocery shop for a family of four!

Your contract of employment should state any additional benefits you are entitled to, however, it’s definitely worth checking with your employer.

To help you ask for the information you need, here’s draft content you can use to write an email or letter. It’s usually best to forward it to your line manager or HR department if you have one:

Dear …………

I’m just reviewing my personal insurance policies to see if I need to take out any additional cover.

Please can you confirm the following:

  • If I become ill and cannot work, what benefits would I get from the company (ignoring any State benefits)?
  • How long are they paid for and are they guaranteed?
  • What would happen after that?
  • Does the company have an Income Protection Insurance policy that covers employees? If so, how much would I get paid and for how long?
  • Are you also able to confirm if I get Life Insurance and/or Critical Illness Cover with the company (Death in Service Benefit)? If so, is this benefit guaranteed throughout the term of my employment? How much would my family receive?

 

Added Value for You – Free Benefits & Options

With most insurers you’ll have access to a range of health related benefits and other financial related benefits that could make a real difference in the event of illness or injury – at no extra cost.

You don’t have to be claiming under the policy to benefit either. Most services on offer can be accessed at any time. The actual benefits and options available vary from insurer to insurer, but here are some examples:

  • Health Advice Line – 24/7

Access to medical professionals around the clock – 365 days a year. You can talk in confidence directly to qualified nurses about any health or well-being issues, as often as required.

  • Counselling and Carer Support Services

Highly experienced counsellors can offer help (over the phone or face-to-face) with any type of mental well-being issue where short-term counselling is appropriate.

  • Hospital in-patient Benefit

It’s difficult for anyone to cope if in hospital for a long period. You could receive up to £200 per night, for up to 90 nights.

  • Maternity Cover

Gives reassurance that if you become incapacitated whilst on maternity leave, the insurer will treat you as if you are still at work and earning the same amount as before you went on maternity leave.

  • Proportionate Benefit

If you suffer a long term illness or injury you may never return to your original occupation.  However, you might have the ability and desire to do something completely different. As a result, if you will earn less in your new occupation than you did before becoming ill, the insurer will continue to pay a ‘top up’ benefit to you.

  • Rehabilitation Benefit

Returning to your previous job after a prolonged period of illness can be a big challenge. You may even need to build up your hours over a period of time. If you return to work on a part-time basis the insurer will pay you a ‘top up’ benefit.

  • Therapy Benefit

If you use the following complementary therapies during the policy, you can be reimbursed for up to £200 per year:

A chiropractor, osteopathy or physiotherapy.

 

*When you take out an Income Protection policy the insurer’s Policy Documents will state exactly what added value benefits and options are available to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do insurers assess Income Protection claims?

This depends on the definition of incapacity for your policy. We only ever recommend policies that provide you with an ‘Own Occupation’ definition; if you cannot perform your exact role the insurer will pay the claim. They won’t insist that you get a similar or alternative job like other substandard policies would. ‘Own Occupation’ is the most comprehensive claim definition you can have.

How much of my income can I cover?

Some people cover as much of their income as possible, others have a specific amount in mind. You may also be entitled to benefits that help make up the shortfall. There are many considerations to factor in – so let us tailor a policy around your own circumstances.

I’m self-employed – can I protect my income?

Absolutely. Even if you find it difficult to prove your income or your income varies all the time, there are options available. Being self-employed you aren’t fortunate enough to have an employer’s sick pay scheme to rely on, which means Income Protection is essential for you (unless of course you work purely for fun and not for money!).

When will I start to receive the payments?

When you are first unable to work due to an accident or sickness there will be a period, known as the ‘Waiting Period’ or ‘Deferred Period’ when the insurer doesn’t pay any benefits. You can choose the period, typically either 1, 2, 3, 6, or 12 months. The longer you can wait before receiving the benefit, the cheaper the premiums will be. Consider how long you may receive sick pay, if any, and also what financial provisions or savings you have.

How long will the insurer pay the claim?

When you take out the policy you can choose how long you want the cover to last, which is usually until your proposed retirement age. The insurer will pay you the benefit until the earliest of:

– The end of the benefit term (e.g. if 2 years was chosen as opposed to ‘unlimited’)

– You pass away

– You are able to return to work

– You are no longer suffering a loss of earnings

What is the average claim period for Income Protection policies?

5 years and 8 months. Some people will only need to claim for a short period of time before they return to work. Others will never be able to work again and may need to claim for over 40 years.

How much cover should I have? And for how long?

The amount of cover you can have is linked to your earnings and the typical length of a policy is up until retirement. 

We don’t do off-the-shelf. We genuinely care about getting the right cover for you. Your circumstances may be similar to someone else’s, but never identical. Our consultative approach means that you’ll feel listened to and understood. Also, you’ll get a solution that’s tailored to your personal needs.

I’ve got Critical Illness Cover – why do also I also need Income Protection?

They are different types of policies that cover different eventualities, but are equally important.

Income Protection will protect your earnings throughout your working life, ensuring you have a monthly income if you are unable to do your job for any reason physically or mentally. The most common claim reasons, aside from cancer, are for mental health issues and musculoskeletal conditions (e.g. back/neck or other joint, muscle or bone issues).

Whilst these types of conditions can prevent you from working, they are unlikely to be regarded as serious enough to trigger a claim for Critical Illness Cover.

How much will it cost?

The cost of Income Protection depends on your age, your health, your job, the amount of cover you want and maybe even your hobbies. This is why price comparison site quotes are often meaningless as they won’t account for your specific individual circumstances.

We will provide you with accurate premiums from the outset. Nobody likes to see a price and then be told it’s not available to them.

The Income Protection policy you buy is there to protect your income – not anyone else’s – so it’s worth finding a policy that will exactly suit your needs.

What happens if my occupation, salary or other circumstances change?

Insurers understand that your circumstances may change in the future. Whilst most insurers don’t require you to notify them of a change in occupation, it is worthwhile as your premiums could become cheaper if your new role is deemed to be lower in risk. The important thing is to check your policy if your earnings change to ensure that you aren’t over or under insured.

Most insurers will allow you to increase your cover without medical underwriting if you:

– get married or enter into a civil partnership

– have a baby or adopt a child

– increase your mortgage because you move or improve your home

– have a basic salary increase

Your Vita Adviser is at your service for the duration of your policy – so if your circumstances change, all you need to do is get in touch and we’ll ensure that your policy is tailored to fit.

Do I get any money back if I don’t claim?

No. For the period you are insured you continue to pay a relatively low premium in relation to the amount of cover. If you haven’t needed to claim then this is ideal – you’ve had peace of mind the entire time and you’ve not suffered a serious illness or been incapacitated and unable to work for a sustained period.

It’s no different to car insurance – which won’t pay out if you don’t have an accident – or pet insurance – which doesn’t pay out if your pet stays well.

What if my earnings drop by the time I claim?

It is likely that the insurer will base any payment on your current earnings. For this reason we will review your needs annually to check that your cover remains relevant. If your circumstances change then we encourage you to get in touch and let us know.

Is PPI similar to Income Protection?

They are completely different policies and work very differently. Income Protection pays you a monthly tax-free income to use as you wish, whereas Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) is designed to cover debt repayments.

Our friendly Advisers are available to answer your questions, provide expert advice and make recommendations – so please call us on 0800 988 36 37 – or you can request a call back.

 

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Vita is proud to support the Seven Families initiative, a charity-led campaign that highlights the need for people to plan financially in case they become too ill to earn an income. The charity Disability Rights UK are working with seven families where the main breadwinner has been forced out of work by an accident or illness and not received any related insurance pay out.  Learn more.

 

* Source: Department of Work & Pensions (Employment Publication) – click here to learn more.