Why income protection should not fall victim to rising household costs

Steve Bryan

Steve Bryan

Take a glance at any business pages or adviser magazine over the past weeks and one key issue jumps out: the cost of living crisis.

Office for National Statistics figures reveal 90 per cent of British households reported an increase in their cost of living in March, with a quarter of those surveyed struggling to cover the rise in bills. This was before a £700 a year increase in energy bills and national insurance contributions took hold.

Concern among clients about rising monthly outgoings is likely to continue, given the ongoing economic uncertainty we face. Irrespective of age or income, whether they are homeowners or renters, it is likely everyone will be impacted in some way.

The approach taken by many is to tighten the purse strings, cutting down on the non-essentials. According to the ONS, 59 per cent of adults who reported a cost of living increase were now spending less on non-essentials.

This could include insurance policies such as income protection. But, in the face of economic uncertainty and higher prices, it could be argued this is when a client’s finances might be best secured through IP. So, what do advisers need to know?

During times of financial hardship, protection can be seen as a luxury. While it bolsters financial security, it is an expense that could be saved if more pressing financial needs emerge.

A recent study by HSBC highlighted a 45 per cent rise in the number of people having no disposable income. 

It is therefore no surprise that some might be tempted to cancel existing cover or not purchase insurance products to have a greater amount of spending freedom.

However, IP is the guarantee of a client’s greatest asset should they be unable to work due to illness or injury. It helps to cover monthly outgoings, acting as a lasting source of support, allowing claimants to maintain their standard of living. In turn, this helps preserve any hard-earned savings they may have, which could be used to cover financial commitments.

A client’s financial position is often not as secure as they may think. With inflation expected to hit 10 per cent by Autumn 2025, their financial situation could become more challenging in the months ahead.

ONS data estimates that the average UK household’s expenditure is £2,548 a month. If the main earner, on an annual salary of £45,000 is unable to work, debt could soon build. Even with two months’ employer sick pay and statutory sick pay), they could accumulate £23,000 of debt within 12 months if their expenditure remained the same.

Our latest IP claims data highlighted that the average length of a claim for policies with a full-term claim period was 101 weeks. Our longest-running claim has been ongoing for 25 years, demonstrating the impact illness can have on earnings and the long-term value the product provides.

Many have felt a tightening of the belt, but certain age groups are feeling the pinch more than others. In March, a study by UCL found that 38 per cent of UK adults said they were worried about their finances, with the figures nearly reaching half for those aged 30 to 59.