44% of the UK population say that their savings would last just a couple of months or less if they became unable to work.
Scottish Widows is highlighting the importance of financial protection to coincide with Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week which starts on 25 April. The MS Society estimates that there are approximately 107,000 people with MS in the UK and that 5,000 individuals are newly diagnosed with the condition each year.
Scottish Widows paid out almost £4 million in critical illness claims relating to MS in 2014, which accounted for around five per cent of all critical illness claims that year. The average age for male claimants in 2014 was 47, while the average age for females was 42. 66.6% of claimants were female.
The company also paid out an additional £1.3 million in critical illness claims relating to Parkinson’s Disease, another degenerative neurological condition which affects around 127,000 people in the UK. Every hour, someone in the UK is told they have Parkinson’s, and one person in every 500 has the condition. Parkinson’s Awareness Week ran this year from 18-24 April.
Research from Scottish Widows, however, raises concerns over the nation’s lack of financial protection should a serious condition like this be diagnosed. Its data shows that one in seven people have been affected by critical illness, and 37% rely on two incomes. Out of those affected by critical illness, 42% said they had to make lifestyle changes in order to cope with the financial impact, while only one in 20 had a policy in place.
Scott Cadger, head of underwriting and claims strategy at Scottish Widows, said: “The number of people with MS in the UK is growing by around 2.4% per year, due to individuals with the condition living longer, which reinforces the need for financial protection in order to cover things such as loss of income, clearing debts or adapting your home to your particular needs.
“Many people believe that they’ll be able to rely on the State if illness strikes, and while this provides a basic level of support, we would firmly advise people to make their own provision for themselves and their families in order to maintain their current lifestyle should the unexpected happen.”