Families risk financial ruin if struck by an unexpected serious illness because they ignore taking out enough insurance cover.
Shockingly, fewer than one in 10 people have critical illness insurance and only a third have any life cover, says financial firm Scottish Widows.
That means most families are dreadfully under insured. Only one in four families can only afford to pay day-to-day bills for three months if their partner fell seriously ill and could not work.
Around another quarter would only have enough money to pay the mortgage for three months, leaving the rest of their household running costs unpaid.
The figures were released as part of lung and pancreatic cancer awareness month.
£1 million paid to sufferers
Lung cancer is the most common cancer in the UK with 120 new cases reported every day.
Pancreatic cancer ranks the 10th most common cancer, with 26 cases diagnosed every day.
In 2015, Scottish Widows settled claims for £1 million from customers suffering from one of the cancers.
Women are diagnosed with four times as many pancreatic cancers as men and just over half (56%) of lung cancer claims.
Scott Cadger, head of underwriting and claims strategy at Scottish Widows, says: “Advances in medicine mean that an increasing number of people are surviving illnesses that previously were fatal. This increases the need for critical illness cover, which can provide a lifeline to those who are recovering from an illness, as well as their families.
Unexpected money struggles
“None of us ever want to think about the worst, but our research show that there are an alarming number of families who could face a significant financial struggle in the event of an unexpected loss of income due to serious illness or death.”
Critical illness insurance typically pays out on diagnosis of one of several serious illnesses, including lung and pancreatic cancers.
Receiving the money is not conditional on failing to survive the illnesses.
“At a time when welfare reform is resulting in significant changes to benefits for those renting and with a mortgage, all of which are being replaced by Universal Credit, families need to do all they can to protect themselves in the event of the unexpected happening,” said Cadger.