We all need to take cover to protect loss of income

If you understood how much your capacity to earn an income - your biggest asset - was worth, you might be more inclined to insure your income, the writer feels.
If you understood how much your capacity to earn an income - your biggest asset - was worth, you might be more inclined to insure your income, the writer feels.
Image: 123RF

How much do you think you will earn over your lifetime? R2-million, R3-million or R10-million?

A survey conducted by life assurer FMI shows that more than half of the South Africans surveyed thought they would not earn more than R10-million over their lifetimes.

Yet a 25-year-old earning R15 000 a month that increases at 6.5% a year and working for 40 years to age 65, will earn R28-million, FMI says.

If you understood how much your capacity to earn an income - your biggest asset - was worth, you might be more inclined to insure your income.

Should you be disabled at age 25 earning R15 000 a month, this is the level of lost earnings you would need to replace. And the risk is high - 70% of people will have at least one disability in their lifetime that will prevent them from earning an income either temporarily or permanently, according to FMI.

Yet, according to FMI's survey, only 47% of people think they will have a temporary injury in their working lifetime and therefore underestimate the risk of temporary illness or injury.

Income protection cover is generally undersold, leaving us overexposed to most likely risks we face, but we are overexposed to unlikely risks.

FMI claims statistics show that a 25-year-old has an 86% chance of suffering a temporary disability, an 8% chance of being permanently disabled and a 23% chance of contracting a severe illness and a 10% chance of dying before retirement.

But the life assurer's survey also shows that more than half of us think life assurance is only to provide "death cover" or benefits for your family if you die. Many of us do not think about using life assurance to protect ourselves from a loss of earnings arising from critical illness or disability. This may be one of the reasons contributing to South Africans being so underinsured.

The Association for Savings and Investment South Africa has highlighted that an estimated 14 million families face a combined insurance shortfall of almost R29-trillion should the family breadwinner lose their income through death or disability.

FMI conducted the RealityCheck Consumer Survey to understand your perceptions of the insurance industry and introduce the realities that affect you and those who advise you about life assurance, Brad Toerien, the chief executive of FMI, says.

The fact that so many people regard life assurance as death cover means people don't take out cover because they simply don't see the need for it. This could also mean that many have life cover, when they actually don't need it and may have an incorrect mix of life and income protection or disability cover, he says.

Other key perceptions revealed by the RealityCheck Consumer Survey include that insurance products are overly complex, inefficient and expensive, that processes are slow and messy and consumers distrust the insurance industry.

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