Critical illness such as cancer, Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson's Disease affects one in 7 Brits yet just 1 in 20 are actually critical illness policy holders, new research has revealed.
According to the Scottish Widows research carried out to coincide with Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week (25th April - 1st May), 42 per cent had to make significant lifestyle changes in order to adapt to the financial impact their illness was having, whilst 44 per cent admitted that their savings would only last a few months before they got into financial difficulties due to long-term sickness absence.
Louise Flowers, Manager, Group Risk Claims Management at Aon Employee Benefits said: "Most of us don't like to think about the prospect of developing a debilitating illness or disease that will impact our ability to work and our overall quality of life, but the reality is, when someone is affected, the financial implications for them and their family can be enormous. Not everyone has the benefit of employer funded Income Protection and certainly state benefit will not provide anything more than a basic level of income."
In particular, the Scottish Widows report found that multiple sclerosis accounted for around £4m critical illness claims the company paid out during 2014 which was 5 per cent of the total claims for that year. £1.3m was also paid out in relation to Parkinson's Disease.
Responding to the findings, Scott Cadger, head of underwriting and claims strategy at Scottish Widows stressed the importance of financial protection to provide a safety blanket for loss of income. He told Health Insurance Magazine:
"Many people believe that they'll be able to rely on the State if illness strikes, and while this provides a basic level of support, we would firmly advise people to make their own provision for themselves and their families in order to maintain their current lifestyle should the unexpected happen."
Flowers added: "Critical illness is a relatively low cost insurance and one that is becoming ever more popular with employees to purchase through on-line/flexible benefits. Whilst not covering every eventuality, insurers have made their offerings more comprehensive over the past few years so encouraging more people to consider buying it. Any type of protection against loss of income due to illness or injury should be a serious consideration but like all things, must be affordable."
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