Just 17% of women in the UK know about income protection (IP) cover, compared with 26% of men, research shows.
In contrast, 32% of women and 38% of men in Switzerland know about the products, perhaps because of its more integrated public and private welfare system, according to the study by Zurich in partnership with Oxford University.
The research also reveals that many self-employed people lack a financial safety net despite experiencing time off work through illness. Just 3% said they had any IP cover in place in the event of this happening again.
Of those that have experienced ill-health, the most common reason (for 35%) was due to mental health issues including anxiety and depression.
The study also suggests the traditional model of a job for life with a single employer is no longer the norm for many, with new technology creating more opportunities for self-employment and gig work. Of the UK respondents, 9% said they already have multiple jobs, compared to 17% in the US and 18% in Japan.
Nick Homer, head of corporate risk at Zurich, said any solution to provide better protection for people and their families must involve multiple stakeholders across the public and private sectors.
“It means collaborating with government and others to encourage greater awareness of the issues, and more provision of support through workplaces and individually,” he stated. “Also key is making sure that any welfare provision works alongside any private arrangements in place.”
Homer said that while lump sum pay-outs from critical illness and life insurance policies won’t impact on means testing for some benefits like Universal Credit where money can be used to clear mortgages or other debt, the same protection isn’t given to rental payments.