Income Protection Insurance (PHI) – an introduction

Many people have heard of income protection – yet many remain unsure exactly what it is and how it can be used to protect their family and themselves.

What is Income Protection?

As the name suggests, Income Protection Insurance, previously known as Permanent Health Insurance (PHI), is a type of insurance which is designed to replace lost income in the event of long term illness or accident.

Unlike Mortgage Protection Insurance and ASU cover, which usually pay an income limited to 12 months, Income Protection Insurance is designed to pay replacement income right up until retirement in the event of the claimant being unable to return to work.

How much Cover can I get?

Life companies will normally cover you for between 50% and 60% of your pre-disability income. In the event of a claim they will normally deduct any continuing income or state single person long term disability benefit.

A claim once in payment under an Income Protection plan is normally paid free of UK income tax.

Under what Circumstances will a Claim be paid?

This is dependent on the basis on which the plan was originally set up: –

Own occupation – pays out if unable to perform your own occupation as disclosed on the application form

Any occupation – pays out if you’re unable to work at any occupation, normally based on work in line with your education and training

Activities of Daily Living – this type of plan pays out if you are unable to perform a number of task – such as eating, dressing, using the toilet etc – you need to be unable to perform a number of tasks from a range of tasks stated by the insurance company – e.g. any 2 from a range of 6 tasks.

Own Occupation cover generally carries the highest premium rates – and may not be available for riskier occupations e.g. working at heights, with explosives, dangerous occupations etc.

How Soon Can I Claim?

You normally submit your claim as soon as you stop working. The payout on the plan will not start until the end of the “deferred period” – you choose this at application – e.g. one month, three months, six months, twelve months.

Warning – the deferred period can in some instances commence from the date of notification to the life office, NOT the first day of sickness – make sure you don’t wait too long to tell them of a claim.

Naturally the longer the deferred period, the lower the premium, since you are less likely to make a claim on the policy.

What About Inflation?

You can set up your plan to allow for annual rises in the cost of living and most people opt for this benefit – your level of cover generally rises each year with a corresponding rise in the monthly premium to offset the general increase in the cost of living over time.

What About if I am Well Enough to Return to Work?

Normally your claim stops but you carry on paying premiums and your policy continues – the insurance doesn’t end.

There are various options under these plans which may be available: –

Proportionate benefit – if you returned to work in a lower-paid position as a result of your illness then a proportion of the benefit may continue to be paid

Rehabilitation benefit – if you returned to work after a period of illness and your income falls, then this benefit may pay a proportion of your cover to cover the loss of income and this benefit normally pays for up to 12 months.

Linked Claims – if you return to work following illness, and subsequently have to stop working due to the same condition then this benefit means you don’t have to go through the same deferred period again and the claim payout can recommence without delay.

Choosing a Policy

We believe that income protection insurance is vitally important for all individuals – especially those who do not have any cover through their employment and, in particular, the self-employed.

Most people are dependent on their incomes – simply ask yourself this question – “how long can we survive with no income?”

Naturally every policy is different so it is therefore important to take advice from an Independent Financial Adviser.

In our next article we will consider this type of cover in more detail and the practical uses to which is can be put

Please share with us your experiences and thoughts on income protection insurance below.

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