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Over 3.9m UK workers are uncertain about the best time to purchase insurance products – The Exeter

by | Apr 9, 2024

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  • Only 6% of respondents said they did not see the importance of insurance products 
  • Yet, 13% of respondents are unsure of when to purchase products 

UK protection and health insurer The Exeter has today released data showing that 13% of working people in the UK – a total of 3,952,000 based on ONS employment data – are uncertain about the best time to purchase an insurance product such as health insurance, life insurance and income protection.

While The Exeter’s Health & Financial Fears Report found that 94% of respondents believe insurance products are important, the research also shows lingering uncertainty about how, and when to purchase them. 

When do you feel it’s most important for someone to consider purchasing the following types of insurance?Income protection Private health insurance Life        insurance 
Starting your first job19%12%13%
Becoming self-employed14%8%7%
Moving into a rental property7%6%7%
Buying a property/getting a mortgage17%9%19%
When ill or following illness8%15%9%
Having a child8%9%20%
Approaching retirement4%5%6%
Offered cover by your employer4%11%4%
I don’t think this type of insurance is important6%8%5%
Not sure14%16%10%

When it came to health insurance, 16% of UK workers reported that they were unsure of the best time to purchase a plan, compared to 14% for income protection and 10% for life insurance. 


However, respondents cited different reasons for why they might consider purchasing the products; with 15% saying that experiencing an illness or during the immediate aftermath is the most important time to consider a health insurance purchase, compared to 9% of respondents who would consider purchasing life insurance, and only 8% who would purchase income protection.

Other popular times for considering a health insurance purchase included when starting a first job (12%) and when offered insurance by an employer (11%). However, only 5% of respondents considered retirement as the most important time to consider health insurance, despite this being the point at which any employer-provided policy would naturally end.

With protection policies such as income protection and life insurance providing more immediate financial security at the point of claim, respondents were somewhat aligned on when they would consider making a purchase. 17% of respondents stated they would consider income protection when buying a property or getting a mortgage, followed by 19% for life insurance. This is despite life policies often being the focus for many protection conversations during the mortgage journey and income protection policies historically being undersold. 


However, one area where respondents did disagree was when having a family. One in five (20%) of respondents said they would consider life insurance when having a child, compared to just 8% who would consider income protection.

Karen Woodley, Head of Healthcare Distribution at The Exeter said: 

“Throughout our Health & Financial Fears research, we found a common theme: UK workers understand the value of insurance but are not proactively investing in products to safeguard their financial and physical wellbeing.


“Often UK workers may wait until they are ill to consider health insurance, where a proactive approach would offer far more security. Waiting too long risks a consumer taking out a policy after a medical condition has developed, which may mean that the condition is not immediately covered, or covered at all, under the application. Choosing the right insurance at the right time can be a tricky prospect without expert advice, making engagement with UK workers both individually and through employer health insurance schemes, hugely important.”

Jamie Page, Head of Protection Distribution at The Exeter commented: 

“One of the more concerning trends from our research was how few UK workers considered taking on a mortgage as being an important time to consider income protection, when having a means of income that allows you to make repayments if you can’t work is an incredible safety net to have. The same logic applies to those who rent, where an income protection policy might make the difference between being unable to afford rental payments and being able to stay in a property.


“As an industry there is still work to be done to educate people on the benefits that insurance can offer throughout their adult working life, not just at the point of making a mortgage application or after a health scare.”

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