Millions of Brits under-protected should serious illness strike

With three national cancer awareness campaigns taking place this month - Prostate Cancer, Ovarian Cancer and Brain Tumour - a new study is highlighting the fact that millions of Britons are under-protected should serious illness strike.

A fifth of the population would not be financially secure

Worryingly, a fifth of the population admit that their household would not be financially secure for any length of time if it lost its main income through unforeseen circumstances, according to the Scottish Widows’ research. And more than a third would resort to raiding savings if they were unable to work. Despite this, however, only a third of people have life insurance, and just one in ten has taken out critical illness cover.

The statistics about serious illness are also striking. Prostate cancer is the most common cause of cancer in men in the UK and one in eight men will be diagnosed with this illness during their lifetime, while around 20 women are diagnosed with Ovarian cancer every day. In addition, ten people a day die of a brain tumour, and this is the chief cause of cancer deaths in children and young people.

Scottish Widows says it paid out £4.5million in critical illness claims relating to prostate cancer, ovarian cancer and brain tumours in 2015, which collectively accounted for almost one in ten of all cancer claims that year. Almost two thirds of all critical illness claims were due to cancer.

Middle-aged sufferers borrowing from parents

The average age of diagnosis for prostate cancer in 2015 was 57, while the average age for ovarian cancer was 47. More than half (55 per cent) of brain tumour claimants were male, the youngest being 30 years of age.

The cancer awareness campaigns coincide with the publication of a new report – No Small Change – by Macmillan Cancer Support, which reveals that thousands of middle-aged people in the UK are being forced to borrow money from their parents because of the cost of having cancer. Macmillan estimates that more than 30,000 people with cancer in their 40s have borrowed money from their elderly parents, and more than 2,000 have moved in with their parents or parents-in-law after having to sell their house.

The charity says that 28 per cent of people with cancer of all age groups – an estimated 700,000 individuals - are vulnerable too because they have no savings to fall back on. And for 83 per cent of cancer patients, lost income and increased expenditure brought about by the disease costs them an average of £570 a month.

Critical illness provides a financial boost

Scott Cadger at Scottish Widows, says: “Critical illness insurance can provide a significant financial boost at a time of emotional stress and financial difficulty, and can really help families who are struggling to come to terms with the impact of cancer.

“No matter what our personal circumstances, it is vital for all of us to ensure we have an appropriate plan in place to protect our finances and wellbeing. At a time when welfare reform is resulting in significant changes to benefits, families need to do all they can to protect themselves in the event of the unexpected happening.”