40% of workers have suffered long-term illness or redundancy

But only 15% have insurance against ill health

Over two-fifths of employees have been made redundant or suffered long-term ill health during their working life, reveals research from MetLife published today.

The survey shows that 20% of respondents have been made redundant at some point in their working life, while 21% have been off work for more than four weeks due to illness.

However, only 15% of workers have some form of insurance against ill health preventing them from working and just 7% receive insurance as part of their employee benefits package.

The insurance gap is widest for those aged 55 and over - only 12% of them have any insurance to cover ill health – yet over half (51%) say they have been made redundant or have suffered long-term ill health.

The figures come after data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) earlier this week showed the number of long-term unemployed has risen to its highest level since 1996.

The number of people who had been unemployed for more than a year climbed by 27,000 to 887,000 in the first quarter of the year.

Stephanie Baillie, employee benefits director at MetLife UK, said: “In the current economic climate, the threat of redundancy is becoming ever more real and one in five of the working population has already suffered redundancy.”

She added: “Understandably, people are being forced to make tough financial choices as their incomes are squeezed, but this only makes good quality health insurance more crucial as many consumers would be left unable to support themselves in the situation where they lost their livelihood through illness.”

Dr Richard Theo, of comparison website ActiveQuote.com, said the ONS figures show that long-term unemployment is becoming a growing problem in the UK, but argues that consumers are not taking the necessary steps to protect their income.

He said: “Many people insure their lives, cars and homes, but neglect to insure the one thing that maintains their lifestyle: their income.”

He added that for those worried about falling ill, long-term income protection may be a wiser investment than short-term cover, as he points out that someone who has been off sick for six months or more has an 80% chance of being off work for five years.

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