‘Millions are financially unprepared for critical illness’

Britons face more than just medical and emotional issues should they suffer a critical illness – many of us face financial heartache, too.

Research suggests that about one person in every three doesn’t have any plans to cope should income dry up. About half of people asked say they would rely on their savings to get them through, but with the average savings pot worth £7,700, it’s unlikely to last very long.

Some people are luckier than others – depending on your employer, you may continue to receive all or part of your pay while you are off work. However, many others will have to make do with statutory sick pay of just £88.45 a week – an amount that won’t go very far.

Despite this worrying outlook, only about one person in seven has taken out critical-illness cover, according to the research by Nationwide Building Society – even though the same research has found that only about 30% of people could afford to support themselves if they were unable to work due to a critical illness.

“A critical illness diagnosis can be devastating and stressful for the whole family, but if you’re unable to work or are forced to give up work, then the worry of how you will pay the bills can add to the pressure,” said Nationwide’s Rob Angus.

“Our research shows that many people don’t consider getting cover, despite most having experienced critical illness either themselves of through friends and family.

“This approach of throwing caution to the wind means that many are unprepared for how they will cope with day-to-day bills without factoring in additional costs for them and their family.

“Having a critical illness policy in place takes away the worry of how you will cope financially and instead focus all your attention on your recovery.”