We believe Income Protection cover should form an important part of any financial planning conversation. After all it is your income that provides the funds to pay for almost everything else. So what would you do if you couldn’t work to earn that income? In this piece, Anne O’Doherty, Head of Life & Pensions, looks at the key questions we are asked when we discuss income protection.
What is income protection?In the very simplest terms Income Protection is a type of protection policy designed to protect your income. It provides an alternative income if you are unable to work due to injury or illness. This can give you financial security and peace of mind while you recover. We all have mortgage protection, car insurance, home insurance and travel insurance, to name but a few. But what pays for all these things? Your income. So why would you not consider protecting it.
How is income protection different to serious illness cover?
The main difference is that Income Protection pays a regular income whereas Serious Illness cover pays a once off lump sum when you claim. In addition, Income Protection is occupation dependent and covers any illness, injury or disability that prevents you from working. Serious Illness cover is available regardless of your occupation but only the illnesses specified on your plan are covered. The other big difference is in the tax treatment of each plan. Tax relief is available on your Income Protection premiums but the benefit is taxed. However, with Serious Illness tax relief is not available on your premiums but the benefit payment is tax-free.
How much cover can I take?
You can insure up to 75% of your income minus any State Illness benefit you are entitled to. Currently this is €220 per week (or €11,440 per year). So if you earn €80,000 you can insure a total of €60,000 less €11,440 or up to €48,560 per year. This means that you would receive a taxable income of €4,046 per month until you get back to work or your policy ends.
If you are self-employed, then you are not entitled to any State Illness benefit. This means you can ensure up to the full 75% of your income.
The important thing is to work out how much income protection cover you may need. Think about your income and your outgoings, how much income do you need to cover your living expenses?
How long will I be covered for?
If you can’t work because of illness or injury, your income protection plan gives you a replacement income until you either return to work or if you’re not fit to return before then, the ceasing age you selected when taking out the policy. You can also decide at outset when you would like to be able to access the plan, should you need to. This is called the deferred period and is usually anything from 13 to 52 weeks.
That sounds really appealing but is it expensive?
At the end of the day, it depends on the value you put on having an income should the worst happen. The cost varies depending on a range of factors including your occupation, your health and age as well as how much income you wish to insure. We believe that some level of Income Protection should form part of a robust financial plan and it really is down to how much you think you will need as a replacement income. There are lots of different factors that affect the cost. It can be reduced by insuring a smaller portion of your income or selecting a different deferred period. Remember to that you can claim tax relief on your premiums.
If you’d like to take a closer look at Income Protection and what kind of plan is right for your circumstances, just get in touch with us at Quintas Wealth Management, because we know what counts.