Protection insurance explained What is protection insurance?

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Protection insurance can help you safeguard your income, lifestyle and family finances

What does protection insurance cover?

Protection insurance is designed to cushion you or your family against the impact of unexpected, and potentially costly, events, including illness, accident, unemployment and death. 

There is a wide range of products available, each serving a different purpose, from private medical cover to life insurance, income protection to critical illness cover. 

This guide aims to demystify the types of protection insurance available and help you choose the right combination of cover for your needs.

Why do I need protection insurance?

If you were off work for any length of time because of an accident or sickness, or if you were made redundant, there are still bills you'd need to pay, such as your rent or mortgage, gas, electricity and food.

Ideally we'd each have an emergency savings pot to see us through - many experts suggest having a rainy day fund of six to nine months' expenditure in an easily-accessible savings account. However, that's just not practical for many of us. And while it may give you breathing space if you fall ill, it won't cover you or your family for long periods off work.

You should also bear in mind that the state benefit safety net increasingly won't pay you enough to maintain your current lifestyle.

The Which? Money Compare tables let you search hundreds of savings accounts and cash Isa deals from providers large and small so that you can find a good home for your nest egg.

Which protection insurance product do I need?

There is a wide range of protection insurance policies on offer, all of which protect you against different events, and with widely varying cover levels. For most people, one single protection product probably isn't enough. For example, while life insurance will pay out if you die, it won't cover you for long-term illness or unemployment.

Think first about what you want to protect. The next step is to investigate what cover you already have, including state benefits. Many employers will offer life insurance, either directly or through your pension scheme, so you might find you're already covered. Many also offer employees health insurance and income protection cover.

It's also worth taking independent financial advice. A financial adviser (IFA) will be able to assess all your protection needs, help you prioritise them and get you the best deal.

The following pages of this guide give you an overview of the different types of protection insurance available, how they interact, what they cover and what they don't.

Looking to buy life insurance?

If you decide you need advice, make sure you consult an independent life insurance broker.

Which? Financial Services can refer you to an impartial, no-obligation third-party advice service to provide you with the best life insurance or mortgage insurance policy tailored to your individual needs. 

Find out more about the life insurance referral service at Which? Financial Services.

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Which? Limited (registered in England and Wales number 00677665) is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Limited (registered in England and Wales number 07239342). Which? Financial Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 527029). Which? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited. Registered office: 2 Marylebone Road, London NW1 4DF.