50% underestimate likelihood of occupational disability


Half (50%) of respondents think they have a less than one in ten chance of being unable to work through disability, according to research by insurance firm Zurich.

Its survey of 1,000 working-age adults also found that nearly two-thirds (60%) think the risk of becoming disabled or too ill to work is far greater for the rest of the population than it is for themselves.

The research also found:

  • 45% believe that those aged between 45 and 54 are at highest risk of being unable to work as a result of medical issues when, in reality, the likelihood increases to almost one in five from the age of 40 and as many as 28% can no longer work by the age of 55.
  • 42% of respondents believe the best way to prevent themselves from occupational disability is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • Almost half (44%) of respondents believe their income would halve if they were unable to work due to a disability.
  • Just 15% of respondents feel they would be able to maintain their current lifestyle on half of their current income.
  • 70% of respondents say their employer does not offer income protection. 
  • 18% of respondents say their employer would be their main source of monthly income if their income were to drop as a result of disability, while 30% would rely on savings.

Peter Hamilton, head of retail propositions at Zurich UK Life, said: “The study shows that while many people are positive and optimistic about their health and ongoing ability to earn, few seem to have adequate protection or savings to protect them against hardship if they couldn’t work.

“There also seems to be a worrying lack of awareness of the support available through income protection, which should form the building blocks of good financial planning.”