Choosing the right solutions that are most relevant to your current lifestyle is the key

Most of us don’t like to think about how we would manage if we were ill and unable to work. But it’s important to sit down and think about the future in this way, if only to give both you and your loved ones peace of mind.

 

A little forward planning now could provide you or your family with a regular income or cash lump sum at a time when financial worries should be the last thing on your minds.

There are a number of different solutions to choose from. In an ideal world we’d be able to afford them all. But with so many other everyday financial responsibilities, it’s better to choose the ones that are most relevant to your lifestyle now. Then, as your needs change, you can change the type of protection that you have in place.

Income protection matters

Income protection insurance is designed to provide you with a guaranteed regular income if you’re too ill to work due to sickness or injury. You usually continue to receive this regular income until you’re well enough to return to work. You’ll often find income protection referred to as permanent health insurance, income replacement insurance or long-term disability cover – but they basically do the same thing.

When you buy income protection you choose how much income you want to receive. The maximum income is typically up to 65 per cent of your earned income. The payments are tax-free though, so the shortfall might not be as much as you think.

You need to choose when you want the regular payments to start should you have to make a claim, so you need to include any payments from your employer. Income protection typically pays out until you retire or you recover but you can choose to stop it earlier, perhaps once a mortgage has been paid off. Payments will also stop if you do go back to work. If you were to fall ill again you may be able to claim again.

The critical factor

How would you cope financially if you were suddenly diagnosed with a critical illness and what effect would it have on your lifestyle? Critical illness insurance can pay out a tax-free cash sum should the insured person be diagnosed with one of a range of specified critical illnesses while the policy is in force. Critical illness cover can be either arranged on its own or included as part of other forms of insurance, such as life cover.

Critical illness polices can vary in the illnesses they cover but most cover illnesses which are consistent with the Association of British Insurers’ list of critical illnesses. These include cancer, heart attack and stroke.

You can choose the length of time you want the policy to run for – many will stop when you reach 70 years of age – but it could coincide with the end of your mortgage or children finishing school or university.