But just 15% of workers have any form of insurance against ill health, MetLife research shows

More than two-fifths of employees have been made redundant or suffered long-term ill health during their working life, new research* from MetLife shows.

The nationwide study shows 20% have been made redundant at some point in their working life while 21% have been off work for more than four weeks highlighting the value of insurance to protect income.

However only 15% of workers have any form of insurance against ill-health preventing them from working with just 7% receiving 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 – the lowest of all the age groups surveyed – yet over half (51%) say they have been made redundant or have suffered long term ill health.

Across the country, workers in the North reported the highest rate of long term ill health at 28% falling to 13% – the lowest rate – for those living in London. Ironically, highest insurance cover was found in London (19%) while Scotland came last with only 10% of respondents claiming similar.

Both men and women were equally as likely to have suffered ill health at 21% but men were over a third more likely to have been made redundant at 25% compared with 16% for women. The gender gap was reflected in health insurance cover with 20% of men having cover compared with 11% of women.

Stephanie Baillie, Employee Benefits Director, 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. Furthermore, our research shows that long term sickness absence – leading to more than four weeks off work – has been experienced by a significant proportion of the working population.

“Insurance cover that protects against life’s uncertainties is absolutely essential and valuable if it is part of a well-designed employee benefits package. Understandably, people are being forced to make tough financial choices as their incomes are squeezed. Yet 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.”

MetLife is one of the fastest-growing life and pensions groups in the UK and has its UK Employee Benefits division in Brighton**. Employing around 150 people, it is the UK hub for the sales and administration of its employee benefits and individual protection businesses.

Since 1 August 2011 all new protection business is written by MetLife Europe Limited, following the acquisition of insurer Alico in November 2010.