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  Income protection matters

income protection matters


Why income protection?

No-one likes to think that something bad will happen to them. But each year one million people are away from work for more than four weeks because of accidental injury or illness.

What’s more, 250,000 people leave work altogether.

Yet figures suggest that less than 1.2 million people have individual income protection. This means 10.8 million households – 60% of working families – would see their income fall by more than a third if the main earner stopped working. And 40% would see it fall by more than half, even when state benefits were taken into account.

With many working age households having little or no financial safety net to fall back on, now’s the time to start talking about income protection.

Source: ABI Welfare Reform for the 21st Century

Raising awareness of income protection

Income protection doesn't just replace an income; it can also provide much-needed additional benefits and support.  

That's why we, together with the newest member of the Aviva group, Friends Life, are launching an income protection awareness campaign. 

We want to show that income protection matters.

Overcoming objections

When it comes to income protection, your clients may have different reasons why they believe they don’t need it.

I can't afford it

Your clients are probably already paying to insure their car, their home or even their mobile phone. But protecting their income is just as important. If they couldn’t work due to accidental injury or illness, paying their monthly outgoings – including their other insurance premiums – could be a real problem.

Money machine

If your client had a machine in their house which paid out several hundred pounds a month, would they pay to insure it against loss or damage?


And that’s why they should consider income protection – they are the machine as they generate the income.

I won’t be off work long-term

Many clients simply believe they won’t be off work for any real length of time – people always think the worst won’t happen to them.

However, the statistics speak for themselves.

In 2013/14, 23.5 million days were lost due to sickness.

On average each person suffering took around 16 days off work.

Stress, depression or anxiety and musculoskeletal disorders account for the majority of days lost due to ill health.

Source: HSE, Working days lost.

The state will look after me

There are a number of state benefits which are available – both means-tested and non means-tested – but it’s unlikely that they could meet all your clients’ monthly outgoings.

What’s more, they are not guaranteed and are subject to change.

Means-tested benefits

Means-tested benefits tend to support general living expenses like food and rent and also help towards the cost of children.

Having children could increase the amount of benefit your client is entitled to, but the following could also reduce it:

  • Partner’s income/hours worked
  • Savings
  • Pension income

State benefit allowances are calculated by household and are capped at a maximum of £500 a week.

Source: gov.uk/benefit-cap

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

Your client can get financial support and work-related support through ESA. Unlike income protection, ESA is not designed to provide your client with a replacement income.

Even the maximum weekly benefit would only really meet the needs of someone living quite a basic lifestyle.

Assessment phase (first 13 weeks)

Weekly amount

Under 25

Up to £57.90

Over 25

Up to £73.10

After that, if your client is entitled to ESA, they'll be placed in one of 2 groups and will receive:


Weekly amount

Work-related activity group              

Up to £102.15

Support group

Up to £109.30

Source: gov.uk/employment-support-allowance/what-youll-get

If your client has made enough National Insurance contributions, they’ll be able to apply for the non means-tested version of ESA. If they’re awarded the benefit, they’ll get it for 12 months. Then, unless they are unlikely to ever return to work, they’ll have to reapply for the means-tested version.

While having income protection will reduce your client’s eligibility for means-tested state benefits, it provides much-needed certainty – your client will know how much they’ll receive and under what circumstances.

Own occupation benefits

With income protection, clients are protected under an own occupation basis. This means their policy is designed to pay out if they can’t do the duties of their occupation.

However, with ESA, your client is evaluated on their ability to do any type of work.

High earners

If your client is a high-earner, losing an income for any length of time could have an even more serious effect – any state benefits would be considerably less than their salary.

Take at look at the table below which shows an example of the annual income that the Aviva policy could provide.

Gross annual earnings

Approximate net annual earnings

Annual income protection benefit that Aviva could provide

Maximum state benefit



up to £82,500




up to £68,750




up to £55,000




up to £41,250




up to £27,500


I'm already covered by my employer

Sick pay entitlement varies greatly between firms. Do your clients know what they’d get from their employer if they were off work due to accidental injury or illness?

The minimum an employer has to provide after three continuous sick days is only £88.45 a week, for a maximum of 28 weeks.

Source: gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay/what-youll-get

My family and friends will help

This may be true in the short-term, but any help is not likely to last.

Our latest Family Finances Report shows that UK families have, on average, only £3,150 in savings, so many simply would not be in a position to help in the first place.

And hand-outs, no matter how big, are unlikely to be enough to keep your client in the lifestyle that they’re used to.

I’ve got critical illness cover

Income protection is designed to protect your client’s earnings throughout their working life.

If they couldn’t work due to illness or accidental injury, your client would still have some form of income until they could return to work.

The most common cause of income protection claims are for mental health issues and musculoskeletal conditions. Whilst these types of conditions can stop your clients from working, they are unlikely to trigger a claim for critical illness.

Tools and calculators

Most people don’t like to think about being so ill that they have to take a significant amount of time off work.  But it’s a real possibility.  So it’s important to get your clients thinking about income protection.

Here's a range of sales support material and calculators to help you out.

Product details

With competitive maximum benefits and added-value support, income protection from Aviva and Friends Life can help minimise the financial consequences of long-term absence from work – giving your client the financial freedom to concentrate on getting better.

Income Protection Options from Aviva

  • 100% own occupation
  • Two year limited benefit option
  • Early intervention and rehab team
  • Increasing cover available
  • Back to work benefit included as standard
  • Find out more

Friends Life Protect+

  • Guaranteed benefit up to £1,500 per month
  • Recurrent 2 year limited benefit
  • Family carer benefit
  • A range of additional benefits in case of traumatic injury, hospitalisation and physiotherapy treatment
  • Global Treatment available at an extra cost
  • Find out more

Clicking this button will take you to the Friends Life adviser site.


Musculoskeletal disorders are a real pain in the neck (and back)

Let’s face it, none of us are getting any younger.

I had a landmark birthday this year but still find myself thinking I’m capable of doing the same things I did when I was 20.

I try my best to keep healthy and was so pleased to achieve a goal this year when I completed a charity walk of 26 miles along the Clarendon Way. Surprisingly, I felt fine the following day – it must have been that long soak in the bath with a glass of wine!

I count myself lucky that I’m able to keep active. However, about nine months ago, I had a trapped nerve in my neck.

For 24 hours I was in excruciating pain; I didn’t know whether to sit, stand or lie down.

And it was all because I didn’t want to make two trips from my car to the house with the food shopping!

Thankfully, I was better within a couple of days and didn’t need to take any time off work. I went to my usual Pilates class which was run by a trained physiotherapist and she gave me some exercises to do at home. I’m sure that contributed to my quick recovery.

It did make me think, though, that despite all the health and safety information that’s out there – especially when it comes to lifting properly – I still tried to cut corners.

That’s how easy it is to end up with a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD).

Biggest cause of sickness absence

More than 130 million days are being lost to sickness absence every year. And more of these days were lost to MSDs than any other cause of incapacity.

Suffering with an MSD is something that can happen to absolutely any of us, and back pain actually ranks highly on the list of self-inflicted ailments. Like my own experience, MSDs can be caused by incorrect lifting. Poor posture, sitting incorrectly at a desk or whilst driving a car, or even doing the garden can lead to problems – the list of potential causes is endless.

Injuries can be sudden or they can build up over time. They can also be the result of a medical condition.

Whatever the cause, pain of this kind can have a huge impact on day to day life. And sometimes, it can last for a considerable period of time. Our claims experience shows that the average length of an income protection claim for these kinds of conditions is 11 years.

The right treatment at the right time

As my Pilates class showed, one of the key things for a quick and effective recovery is quick and effective treatment.

Many people with MSDs benefit from physiotherapy and pain management services.

Our claims experience shows that the sooner people receive the right treatment and support, the shorter the recovery period will be. An income protection policy can help make sure sufferers get the treatment they need, when they need it.

It can also help by making adjustments in the workplace so that a return to work can happen sooner rather than later.

But with all things, prevention is better than the cure, so please learn from my mistake: if an extra bag of shopping from the car, or an extra bag of gravel to the end of the garden feels like too much, then it probably is.

Julie Higman
Aviva's income protection product manager

Previous blogs

If you haven’t already seen what our product experts have to say about the importance of income protection, here’s where you can find all our previous blogs.

Label Putting our minds
to mental health

Mental health is probably something most of us don't really think about. But actually it affects all of us - it affects how we think and feel about ourselves, how things in our lives affect our behaviour and how we deal with the rough times.

In essence, it affects every aspect of our day to day lives. 

We’re all busy, with lots of responsibilities to juggle. But the way we cope with daily life can be very different. Some of us bounce back from a setback while others feel weighed down by it for a long time. What’s more, how we cope with certain situations can change over time. 

And because we each have different coping mechanisms, not all of us feel comfortable talking about our feelings. 

When we think of mental health problems, we commonly think of anxiety and depression, both of which can have a big impact on our ability to get on with life. We all let things get on top of us from time to time – I know my inner voice has told me ‘to pull myself together!’ in the past. 

But what if I didn’t know how to do it? What if I couldn’t bring myself to deal with what life threw at me? 

Things can easily spiral out of control. But we should remember that not coping is not a weakness. We should also remember that there are medical professionals who can help – we don’t have to struggle on alone. 

Unfortunately, however, some people feel there is still a stigma attached to admitting to living with a mental health problem. So they keep their feelings hidden because they’re afraid of how other people will react, and that they’ll be given a label they can’t ever remove. 

Figures show that about a quarter of the UK population will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year. I saw first hand the devastating impact this can have on peoples’ lives when it affected a very dear friend of mine. Here was a woman who had everything going for her, or at least that’s how it appeared to the outside world. 

But inside, it was a very different story. 

Her battle with mental illness had a huge impact on her family and friends, and what affected me the most was that she kept all her problems bottled up and would not let us help her. 

This doesn’t need to be the case. 

Research has shown that with early intervention and access to treatment, the potential for recovery – and return to work – is significantly improved. And that’s why income protection is so important. By providing a much-needed support network, it gives people someone to turn to, as well as the financial support they need to keep paying their bills if they can’t work.

Quite simply, it can help them get their life back on track. 

None of us know what’s around the corner. And none of us know how we’ll cope if and when bad times come along. 

But one thing’s for sure: we can put plans in place today to make it easier for us to deal with what tomorrow brings.

Jacket Risk being without a salary?
No thanks

With average claims lasting more than nine years, Julie Higman, Aviva’s income protection product manager, tells us how she couldn’t risk being without a salary. 

Most of us don’t like to think about how our life would change if we were unable to work. 

I’m sure I’m not alone in saying I feel like the weekend always goes too quickly and I’m back at work on Monday morning before I know it. 

But what if there was no work on Monday? 

Also, probably like a lot of people, I like to save money for things I can look forward to – like a holiday or a weekend away. But what about saving money in case of illness? In the past, it definitely wouldn’t have been a priority. 

However, everything changed after my husband became self-employed. I realised that we would be totally reliant on my income if he couldn’t work because he was ill. Doing what I do, it’s no surprise that I have protection in place. What’s more, I understand exactly what I would get from my employer. 

But my husband had nothing. 

If he became ill and lost his income, we wouldn’t be able to manage for long – certainly not for nine years! So within his first year of being self-employed, I made sure that we took out income protection cover for him. And when we did, I literally felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. The knowledge that, if the worst happened, we’d be able to keep our house – and maybe even still hopefully enjoy the odd holiday – made a huge difference. But the most important thing is that my husband would be able to concentrate on getting better as opposed to worrying how we’d make ends meet. 

I strongly believe that income protection should be at the top of the list when talking about protection and I’ve certainly encouraged a number of my friends to take out cover. 

If you do nothing else today, speak to your clients about income protection and also encourage them to find out what sick pay they get from their employer - it may be totally different to what they think.

Our case studies show how two clients have benefited from putting cover in place:

Aviva Life & Pensions UK Limited. Registered in England No 3253947. Wellington Row, York, YO90 1WR. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 185896.  

Friends Life and Pensions Limited. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Registered number 475201 Financial Services Register Number 110414. www.friendslife.co.uk

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WA02231 07/2016