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What is income protection insurance?

Income protection can help you or your family if you are unable to work because of sickness, illness or redundancy.

It helps to provide some much-needed cashflow at a difficult time so that you can continue to pay your household bills and meet other costs.

You can take out a policy to protect your income and meet your living costs. How much cover you need depends on whether you have a family or dependants, what your regular outgoings are, and how much you can afford to pay in income protection premiums.

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Who should buy income protection?

Income protection is sometimes called accident insurance, redundancy insurance, or sickness insurance. It gives you cover if you need to make a claim because you are unable to work.

Anyone who is in work could consider income protection. You can check with your workplace to see what the sickness benefits are if you were unable to continue working with your current employer. They may already be included in your workplace benefits or be included in cover for people who are members of the company or workplace pension scheme.

If you don’t have any income protection insurance or long term sickness pay at work, or you are self-employed or freelance, then you might benefit from having income protection cover.

How does income protection insurance work?

Just like other forms of insurance such as home insurance or motor insurance, you buy insurance cover and pay a regular monthly premium in return for cover.

With income protection insurance there is no investment or savings element to it. If you do not need to claim on your income protection policy then you will receive no money back – like any other form of general insurance. 

As long as you continue to pay your premiums, you will be covered.

You can shop around for the best type of income protection cover to suit your needs based on your household costs and the members of your family who might be dependent on your salary.

Income Protection options

What are the different types of income protection insurance?

You can buy cover for the short term – for up to five years, or you can set up a long-term income protection policy which might cover the whole of your working life.

Short term income protection cover

Short term income protection insurance pays out a monthly sum from the insurer if you need to make a claim and the claim is successful. People buy this type of cover in order to help them pay bills and meet expenses in the short term.

Although short term cover is cheaper, there are likely to be more exclusions and it may cover fewer illness or issues.

Also, the monthly payment will be paid out for a set time, and not for the rest of your working life, so you will eventually have to find other ways to pay for your outgoings.


Short term income protection insurance can be a welcome help for a time while you recover, find a new job, or adjust to a new way of working.

How much will income protection insurance cost?

When you receive a quote for income protection cover it will be the monthly cost of the premium. 

Depending on your policy, your premiums will either be fixed for the term of the policy, which means they will not rise, or they will be variable, which means that your policy could become more expensive over time.

The best way to find a good-value income protection policy is to shop around. You can do this quickly and easily by comparing quotes with Uswitch. 

Long term income protection cover

Long term income protection insurance is sometimes known as permanent health insurance.

This is a much more comprehensive policy, but it is also much more expensive than short term cover.

If you make a claim, you will receive a regular income until you can return to work. If you are unable to return to work, the policy will pay you a regular income until the end of the policy term, or until you die or retire. The exact payment terms and policy details will be dependant on the type of policy you buy.


As this is a much more comprehensive product and the benefits are greater, your monthly premium will also be higher than for a short term insurance policy.

Understanding income protection

How much income protection insurance cover do I need?

This depends on your salary, lifestyle and current costs.

You may not need or be able to afford insurance to cover your total salary in your income protection plan. But the monthly pay out should be enough to cover your current household costs and other expenses.

Which costs need to be covered if you're out of work?

Sit down with your recent bank statements and work out how much you spend on food, mortgage, rent, living costs, travel and other costs. This will give you a basic idea of how much you would need to find just to pay for essentials.

After this, you can work out where you might have to economise if you were unable to work.

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