New research shows that 3.6 million families across the UK could be put at financial risk by not having the right cover

  • 47% of British parents don’t have life insurance, and 44% admit they have never discussed the financial implications of death with their partner
  • 68% of London-based parents don’t have life insurance – 10% more than their Scottish counterparts
  • Over a quarter (27%) of those in the Midlands said they didn’t see the benefits of life insurance

A new study has revealed that approximately 47%* (3.63 million*) of British parents do not have life insurance and 44% have never discussed the financial implications of death with their partner.

The findings, which come from a study of 2,000 parents by the Institute of Inertia – a partnership between comparethemarket.com and the University of Sheffield - also revealed that the lack of life insurance could lead to 1.78 million* (23%) UK families being unable to cover rent / mortgage within one month.

Perhaps surprisingly, parents living in London were found to be the least likely to have life insurance, with 68% of parents in the region stating that they had not purchased life cover – 10% more than their Scottish counterparts (58%).

While almost one in five (19%) London-based parents said they couldn’t afford to purchase life insurance – slightly lower than the UK average (21%) - the same number (19%) also claimed that they didn’t see the benefits of taking out life insurance cover.

A similar sentiment was also reflected on a national scale with nearly a quarter (23%) of those polled stating they didn’t have a policy because they wouldn’t personally benefit. This number rose in the Midlands, where 27% of parents said they didn’t see the benefit of purchasing life insurance, despite one in ten (10%) admitting that their family members would need to find an additional source of income if they passed away – a figure in line with the national average.

In addition to this, 36% of those surveyed from across Britain also admitted they had little to no understanding of what life insurance represents.

Across the nation, the number of British parents with life insurance cover varies. In Wales, almost two thirds (64%) said they did not have life insurance cover, while in the East of England, 61% said they didn’t have a life insurance policy.

According to a leading social psychologist, the natural fear of death could also be a key factor in the comparatively low numbers of British people taking out life insurance. For example, 71% of parents say they have taken out contents insurance, while over a third (41%) have purchased travel insurance.

This fear, which psychologists refer to as ‘Terror Management Theory’, causes the human brain to naturally suppress thoughts of death so quickly that they don’t even surface - creating a disconnect that prevents action.

Dr Thomas Webb, a social psychologist at the University of Sheffield and Chair of the Institute of Inertia, explained: Planning for the things we can’t control may seem like a futile exercise, but not when you are actually ensuring that your family is taken care of in the unlikely event of your sudden death.”

Jody Baker, Head of Life Insurance at comparethemarket.com, commented: “It’s hardly surprising that most of us try to avoid thinking about death. However, a failure to consider and discuss the consequences should the worst happen can leave those we love in serious financial difficulty. It’s therefore vital that we do more to raise awareness and understanding of what life insurance actually offers families: much-needed financial support and peace of mind.”