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May 25, 2012

Income Protection Insurance: Should you Get It?

The first quarter of 2012 brought grim news from the Office of National Statistics, which reported an unemployment figure of 2.6 million. A third of this figure is made up of people who have been out of work for a year or more and are therefore classed as long-term unemployed.

With such high levels of unemployment, many workers are considering more seriously the consequences of job loss. In addition to familiarising themselves with their employer’s redundancy terms and looking for areas where they can tighten their belts, many people are investigating income-protection cover as a way of providing some additional security.

What is Income-Protection Cover?

Income-protection cover pays a regular tax-free sum when you experience a loss of income due to illness or injury, with some policies also covering unemployment and redundancy. There are a number of policies available, all offering varying periods and levels of cover.

Points to Consider

It’s important to make sure you understand the full terms and conditions of a policy you are considering taking out to ensure that it is the right fit for your own circumstances. For example, some policies may only pay out for a set period of time, while others may defer payment for a few months after a claim is made.

This delay may be fine if your employer has a generous compensation plan or you have savings, but if your employment contract only covers you for the statutory minimum you may wish to seek out a policy that either pays out right away or backdates payments to the date of a claim.

Similarly, different providers will have different exclusion criteria and rules around how long a policy has to be in effect before a claim could be made. Check if there are any special rules covering self-employment or certain medical conditions in the policy you are considering.

Income protection will pay a regular sum based on a percentage of your total monthly income. This is different to other forms of insurance, such as payment-protection insurance, which only covers the repayment costs of one particular debt or purchase.

If you are made redundant and have payment-protection insurance for your mortgage you would still need to cover the rest of your living expenses either with personal savings or an income-protection policy.

A critical-illness policy will provide you with a tax-free sum if you are diagnosed with a listed illness. However, it does not pay out for every illness in the way that an income protection policy does. Consequently, if illness or health issues are of particular concern to you and your family it may be worth spending some time researching the various income-protection policies available.

Do I Need Income-Protection Cover?

When deciding whether income protection cover is the right choice for you and your family, it may be useful to look into the terms of your employer’s redundancy cover and whether your employer will pay a percentage of your salary if you are off sick indefinitely.

Look at any other insurance policies you may have and make a note of what you would be covered for and how long you would be covered if you lost your job unexpectedly. Are there any gaps and how would you fill these gaps?

Most importantly, take time to consider the various policies available, ensure your chosen policy is right for you and your family and make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions before purchasing any insurance plan.

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