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People ‘three times as likely to have pet insurance as critical illness cover’

Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent
·2-min read

People are three times more likely to have insurance for their pets’ health as they are to have critical illness cover for themselves, a survey has found.

Some 18% of people surveyed have taken out pet insurance while just 6% have critical illness cover, according to Halifax.

It suggested the volume of new pets being acquired during coronavirus lockdowns may have encouraged people to purchase protection for their animals.

The research also found nearly two-fifths (37%) of people have experienced a loss of income since March 2020 – the month the lockdowns started in the UK.

More than half (52%) of people surveyed said that, in the event of the main earner in their household falling critically ill, they would not be able to stretch their savings beyond six months.

Some 17% of people said that since March last year they or a family member had been diagnosed with a non-coronavirus-related serious illness for the first time.

Taking time to call an insurer or update a policy was one of the main reasons people did not have critical illness cover, along with affordability and a lack of trust that insurers will pay out, the survey found.

Halifax said that last year its sister brand Scottish Widows approved 98.75% of claims submitted.

About six in 10 (61%) people believe insurers’ communications are too complex while a third (33%) said they find it hard to contact their insurer, the survey found.

Halifax released the findings as it said that customers can now apply for life insurance and critical illness cover directly through the Halifax mobile banking app. The insurance is provided by Scottish Widows.

To cut out jargon and avoid confusion, Scottish Widows place all main conditions covered under five headings – brain and neurological; heart and arteries; cancer; organs; and senses.

Customers of Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Bank, which are also part of the same banking group, will have access to the product later in the year.

Rose St Louis, protection director at Halifax, said: “Protecting our possessions, technology and even our beloved family pets are all sensible safeguards and necessary – the issue is that many people are not protecting against the worst happening to themselves.

“Halifax customers already use our app for their everyday banking and we hope that this new service we’ve added will make it easier for people to better prepare for the future and take critical illness cover and life insurance off the list of things they never get round to sorting.”

Two surveys, each involving more than 2,000 people, were carried out in January and February this year.