Shocking new figures have revealed that self-employed workers are failing to put in place a plan B, should they be unable to work of suffer from ill health. Following a recent survey carried out by ActiveQuote*, we discovered that more than eight out of 10 freelances have no income protection in place to cover their earnings in an emergency - and a staggering 96% have no health insurance.

Our survey showed that:

Last month we revealed that more than four out of five Brits don’t have health insurance, but the trend amongst the self-employed - who can’t access the kind of staff benefits enjoyed by employees - is particularly worrying. This also follows research showing that, as a nation, we’re more likely to insure our pets than our health or our income, yet protection insurances can prove a lifeline should you become ill or be unable to work.

The main reason given by those without private health insurance was the presumed expense, with self-employed people estimating it would cost £85 per month for private health cover. But this is more than double the actual cost, which starts from just £40 per month for a family of four**.

ActiveQuote health insurance team leader Mark Todd, said: “These numbers are quite shocking. It’s understandable that cost would be a consideration for those who are self-employed, but with 28% claiming they would be unable to pay their energy bills and a further 25% saying they would struggle to pay food bills if they were unable to work, it’s also worrying that there isn’t a plan B in place should anything happen.

“It’s also apparent from the research that the perception of this type of cover is outdated and people still believe health insurance is only for the wealthy, or perhaps those who work for more established businesses. It’s even more concerning that only eight percent of those who are self-employed would be covered for living costs by their partner’s income if they were unable to work.”

Mark added that, due to the nature of their work, self-employed people think constantly about where their next business is coming from. “Not being able to work isn’t a consideration,” he said. “But it can and does happen, so it’s important to consider taking out precautionary insurance so that your bills and family would be taken care of.

“This research demonstrates that the British public, and especially the self employed, needs to be educated on private medical insurance and protection products such as income protection and critical illness. These insurance products aren’t just a staple for the rich, they are accessible for most people and most budgets and are still very much needed when it comes to safeguarding the financial and future wellbeing of families.”

There are nearly five million self-employed people in the UK, according to Office for National Statistic figures, yet it’s the group most at risk of financial shock, with a third unable to survive financially for more than three months without their income. Yet there are lots of insurance schemes and policies specifically for sole traders and company directors, such as the discounted health insurance we offer in partnership with WPA.

You might also want to read our article on self-care when you’re self-employed, to keep your physical and emotional wellbeing in tip-top shape to see you through the stresses and strains of working for yourself.

As the UK’s leading comparison website and broker of health and protection insurance products, we specialise in health insurance, income protection, life insurance and critical illness cover for employed and self-employed customers. Try our online insurance comparison service or call 0800 862 0373 to find the right policy at a price that suits your budget.

*ActiveQuote surveyed 2,000 adults selected at random from across the UK between June 7-14 2018

** Based on an ActiveQuote quote on April 25 for a family of four living in south Wales