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Abacus Values
Nov 19, 2015

Could your family financially survive?

Many families are not financially prepared to weather serious illness to their main breadwinners, an insurance industry poll shows.

Financial Services Council (FSC) said polling showed about half employed people could not stay afloat for more than a month after using up their sickness and annual leave.

The FSC said more than 1000 families a week experience a sickness that prevents a main income earner from working for three months or more, which left a sizeable income gap as 26 per cent of households had no income protection insurance.

An average family needs $683 a week to make up for a main income earner in the household not being able to earn because of sickness, the FSC said.

Many families seem unaware of how little help they would get if sickness strikes.

Just over half of working people were not aware that if their partner's income was $30,000 or more they would not get all or part of a Job Seeker allowance, previously known as a sickness benefit.

Peter Neilson, chief executive of the Financial Services Council says many Kiwi workers wrongly believe ACC and Work and Income will help, if they fall sick.

And one in five people mistakenly think ACC covers long term sickness that prevents employment.

By contrast to the low uptake of income protection insurance, which replaces a portion of the policyholder's income if they can not work due to serious illness, abouteight in 10 households had a vehicle insured, seven in ten had home and contents coverage and six in ten had their homes insured, the FSC said.

The FSC, which highlighted the income protection gap at the Mind the Gap seminar in Auckland on Tuesday, believed the gap is partly explained by people being unaware how frequently sickness interrupted work lives.

FSC chief executive Peter Neilson said Kiwis also typically underestimated their likelihood of being off work for a long period caused by sickness.

Most New Zealand workers thought they had about the same or greater likelihood of being off work long-term following an accident rather than following sickness, the FSC said.

The chance of being off work for six months or more from sickness was nearly twice that of being unable to work for the same period as a result of an accident.

"The new polling is a bit of a wake-up call and helps partly explain the relatively low take up of income protection insurance by only 26 per cent of households," Neilson said.

"These key facts will be distributed to people who work alongside those living with long term illness.  Health workers, social workers and budget advisers will be able to give good advice based on this evidence."

"We hope they will also start a conversation at the Mind the Gap seminar and in the wider community about how we can protect the financial security of families when a main earner has a long term illness that prevents employment."

Over the last five years only one in eight of the households struck with long term illness had income protection insurance in place when it happened, the FSC said.


The FSC's Horizon Research Income Protection Survey found out of every ten households:

  • Only two to three had someone with income protection insurance
  • Just four had someone with medical insurance
  • Six had someone with life insurance
  • Six had someone with home insurance
  • Seven had someone with household contents insurance
  • And eight had someone with vehicle insurance

 - Stuff

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