Due to the coronavirus outbreak, at the moment we’re unable to offer comparison for Unemployment cover, as currently all insurance providers are unable to offer policies. However, we’re still able to offer comparison for Accident and Sickness cover. To help answer any questions you might have, we’ve put together the latest information on coronavirus and income protection.
What’s the difference between short and long-term income protection?
Short-term income protection policies are sometimes known as accident, sickness and unemployment policies. Usually, they only pay out for one or two years.
There are several different short-term policies. These include payment protection insurance and mortgage payment protection insurance (MPPI). Both mean that you won’t default on any outstanding loans. You’ll also find short-term policies that pay out if you’re unable to work.
By contrast, long-term protection can provide a regular, tax-free income if injury or illness means you’re unable to work for a longer period.
What does long-term income protection cover me for?
If you take out a long-term income protection policy, you’ll be protected against accident and sickness.
If illness or injury leave you unable to work, your policy will cover a set proportion of your income. With some policies you can claim more than once. That means if you’re ill, then recover, but fall ill again, you could still claim.
And if you were to suffer from a serious disease or condition, like cancer or a permanent disability, the policy could pay out until you retire, die, or become well enough to work again.
How long does long-term income protection cover last?
Most policies have a minimum term of five years and will go on until you reach 67 or your planned retirement age. You might want a policy that lasts until you plan to retire. That way, you’ll have earnings cover in place for the rest of your working life.
Frequently asked questions
What’s the difference between long-term income protection cover and critical illness cover?
Critical illness cover pays a lump sum if you’re diagnosed with a specific illness, such as cancer.
Income protection cover pays a regular income for a set period of time if you’re deemed too ill to work, regardless of the condition. This can include mental illness if you have long-term cover.
How does income protection cover work?
Income protection policies offer different levels of cover based on your incapacity following an accident or illness:
- Own occupation – this level of cover lets you make a claim if an accident or illness prevents you from carrying out your own job. It tends to be the more expensive, but also the most comprehensive option
- Suited occupation – this covers you if you’re unable to carry out any occupation suited to your level of education and training
- Any occupation – this covers you if you’re unable to carry out any type of work at all
- Working tasks – this provides the lowest level of income protection. You’ll only get a pay-out if you can’t perform the most basic day-to-day living tasks, like walking or lifting objects
How much of my income will the policy cover?
That depends on how much you earn and which premium you choose. In many cases you can insure a set percentage of your pre-tax earnings, usually between 50% and 65%, but the percentage could be as high as 70%.
Think about how much you want to protect. As a minimum you’d want to cover your essential monthly outgoings like rent or mortgage payments, household bills and any debts – plus an allowance for everyday spending.
Do I need long-term income protection?
It’s not a legal requirement to have long-term income protection, but it could be very useful. To decide whether you need it, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Would state benefits be enough to support your current lifestyle if you had to stop working? Your employer can tell you what employee benefits you’d be entitled to, and you might find you’re eligible for comparable cover, through a staff benefit scheme.
- If your spouse or partner is working, would you be able to cope long-term on their income alone?
- Would you be able to live off any savings you have until you reach retirement age?
Suffering a sudden loss of income, as well as the trauma of an accident or illness, can have a huge impact on you and your family. Long-term income protection could give you the peace of mind that if something happens to you, your financial future is protected.
What can I use income protection for?
There are lots of reasons why income protection could be useful:
- to cover rent or mortgage repayments
- to repay a loan, credit card, car finance or other debts
- to cover your monthly living costs like food shopping, clothes, utility bills and internet
- to cover general lifestyle costs like holidays, school trips and weekends away
How much does long-term income protection cost?
The cost of your premium will depend on a number of things, for example:
- Your age – the younger and fitter you are, the cheaper your premium should be, as there’s less risk of you falling ill.
- Your job – if your occupation is high risk, like a builder or firefighter, your premium will typically be more expensive than that of, for example, an accountant.
- The length of your policy – a policy that lasts up to retirement age will cost more than one that only lasts for a few years.
- The length of your deferred period – typically, the longer the waiting period for the policy to kick in, the cheaper your premium will be. This is because your insurance provider will have less to pay.
What is a deferred period?
The deferred period is the time you’d have to wait before your policy kicks in and starts delivering. It makes sense to arrange for the policy to start paying out when your employee sick pay stops. You’ll need to check your contract, as this will vary between employers.
It’s worth remembering that the longer the deferred period is, the lower your premium is likely to be.
Can I get long-term income protection if I’m self-employed?
Yes, you can. If anything, long-term income protection could be even more important if you work for yourself. As a sole trader you won’t enjoy some of the same rights as an employee, and nobody pays you for time off if you’re sick or injured.
Will my policy cover unemployment?
Most long-term income protection policies are designed to cover accident and sickness, but some have an option to include short-term redundancy protection.
But please note, at the moment, we’re unable to offer comparisons for unemployment cover due to complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
What should I look out for when buying long-term income protection?
You’ll want to make sure you get the right income protection insurance policy for your needs.
- Check with your employer – before you take out a policy, check what employee benefits you’re eligible for. You might already have similar cover under a staff benefit scheme.
- Don’t scrimp on cover – if you’re planning long-term protection, don’t be tempted by a cheaper short-term plan if it’s not enough to cover your future needs.
- Exclusions – read the policy terms and conditions carefully before you buy. Common exclusions can include unemployment for a reason other than accident or illness, accidents or illness from drug or alcohol abuse, pregnancy, or self-harm.
You should also make sure to tell your insurance provider if you change jobs during your policy term (the length of your policy). If you don’t, it could invalidate your cover.
How do I compare long-term income protection?
Comparing long-term income protection through Compare the Market is quick and easy. Just fill in the details and let us know what type of cover you’re interested in.
Policies may vary slightly between providers, so it’s always a good idea to check the details and features of each one, to make sure you get the right cover for you.
What do I need to get a quote?
We’ll need you to answer a few questions about:
- the kind of job you do
- your health
- if you’re employed or if you’re self-employed
- if you’re a smoker or if you use nicotine-based products
- the deferred period you want
- the amount of cover you’re looking for, based on your monthly income
We’ll then send you a list of suitable quotes, so you can compare them.Start a quote
Why use Compare the Market?
**On average it can take less than 2 minutes to complete an Accident or Sickness quote through Compare the Market, based on data in November 2020.
***Correct as of November 2020. Please note, currently we are unable to offer comparison for Unemployment cover, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
****For the period 1st September to 30th November 2020, 12,477 people responded to the recommend question. 11,706 responded with a score of 6 or above, therefore 93.8% are likely to recommend.
From the Life team
What our expert says…
“Before taking out income protection insurance, check your employment contract first, to see if you’re already covered under your sick pay arrangements.
“Also check if you’re entitled to any state benefits if unable to work. This won’t prevent you from taking out income protection cover, but some insurance providers may reduce the pay-out amount if you also receive state benefits.”