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Here at Cura Financial Services Ltd we believe that you should have the opportunity to know exactly what you are getting for your money.

After all, your protection cover may seem like something minor to worry about now, but what if the worst was to happen?

Choose from a range of guides, shown on the left of the screen, to get an insight into the different types of protection and then if you still have any questions or queries, feel free to get in touch with us and we'll be happy to help!

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Top Ten tips for choosing an Income Protection provider

Income Protection policies are designed to offer you protection so that if you are injured or become ill, a part of your income is replaced allowing you to continue making important payments such as mortgage repayments, utility bills and food.

A wide range of policies and providers exist with each offering slightly different terms and conditions, but all with the same aims.

The protection is based on your current occupation and salary and can cover you for up to 65% of your gross income. The cap of 65% is placed on the policies by government to ensure that persons cannot benefit by been off work sick. Roughly speaking, the 65% equates to what most people receive in their hand from their pay packets after National Insurance and income tax is removed.

Here are our top ten tips for choosing your income protection insurance provider:

Work out your budget and calculate how much cover you actually need

It may be tempting to take as much cover as you can but it if you don't really need it, you could be paying for something unnecessarily.

Decide what age you intend to retire

Most Income protection policies will cover you until a particular age which is normally set at your intended retirement age. The policy will pay out from when you are first ill and continue paying until you have recovered. However if you are unable to return to work because of the illness the policy will keep paying until the end age on the policy. This means that effectively you could receive a payout for the rest of your working life.

Find out if you receive any sick pay from your employer

These policies have the option to start paying after you have been unable to work for a certain number of weeks. This is known as the deferment period and the longer you can defer a payment the lower the premium. Because of legal restrictions, you are unable to claim on an income insurance policy whilst your employer is continuing to pay you sick pay. This means that by taking a policy with a deferment period shorter than your sick pay, you are effectively paying for a policy you can't claim on! The ideal situation is for your income policy to start as your sick pay ends, providing a smooth and seamless income for your household.

Index link your policy

Over time the value of a pound goes down and what a pound will buy you today may not necessarily be the same as in 10 years time. This is because of the effects of inflation and changes in the retail price index and whilst there is nothing you can do to change that value, there is a way to protect your policy and the amount it would pay out to you.

By index linking your policy, sometimes known as an increasing benefit, your monthly benefit is increased a small amount each year in line with the retail price index. These small annual increases mean that your policy retains its real value without you needing to worry about it.

Look for Guaranteed premiums or Reviewable premiums

Income Protection cover comes with two different types of premium. Named, guaranteed and reviewable, these determine if the price you pay on day one will be the same no matter how long you have the policy, or if there is a risk that the insurance company may put your premiums up at a later date.

In most cases a guaranteed premium is recommended because there is no telling when an insurance company may increase its premiums nor by how much they will go up.

Because of the extra risk associated with reviewable premiums they are usually cheaper priced to start with but may work out considerably more expensive in the future.

Don't be tempted by brand

This type of insurance can be a fairly specialist field and household names do not always present the best option for you nor the cheapest premiums. A wide range of well known providers will offer the cover including Fortis, Royal Liver, AXA and Aviva (formally Norwich Union), but it is also worth bearing in mind that lesser known names such as Unum, Pioneer and Bright Grey can also offering highly competitive premiums and at times, better terms, a better claims history and better customer service.

Research a providers claims history

So you have found an income insurance policy that offers you a great premium, good terms and that you are happy with...But if your provider has a lower than average claims record is it really as good as you think? It doesn't make sense to pay for a policy that you will rely upon if the insurer simply isn't likely to pay a claim when you need it most. Make sure you ask about the providers claims history (they should be happy to tell you all about it!) and ensure that you have the peace of mind that your claim will be paid!

If you've suffered from a medical condition, speak to someone

Medical conditions can have a dramatic effect on income protection cover even more so than with other insurances like life insurance or critical illness cover. Depending on the particular condition, an insurer may ask to increase you premiums, exclude conditions from the cover or even decline the application if the condition was very serious. The best way to handle medical conditions is to speak to an adviser. This will allow you to be pointed in the direction of a company that is likely to offer the best terms and premium for your circumstances. An adviser will also be able to give you an initial indication as to whether you can expect any premium increase (and if so how much roughly) or any exclusions.

Be ready to provide information about your occupation

It may seem like you are been asked a lot of in depth questions about your job but if you work in a hazardous environment this can help to offset any premium increases caused by your occupation.

Income protection insurance companies rate your job into occupational classes depending on how hazardous they consider it to be. Jobs such as office workers and administration type roles are deemed to be the least hazardous whereas occupations like oil rig workers and construction are seen as been highly hazardous.

Premiums are usually based on your occupation so if you work in a hazardous position it is important that as much information be provided as possible. A small piece of information can dramatically affect your premium and could save you money!

Always be honest

Throughout the process of choosing your provider and then applying for your income protection it is highly important that you are honest and fully disclose any details that you are asked. Failing to disclose a piece of information, about for example your health, could result in the insurance company refusing a claim and could see you paying into a useless policy!

If you are in any doubt about the answer to a question just say so. Insurers are quite happy to write to your doctor (at no cost to you) in order to find out more information about a condition.

Choosing the provider of your Income Protection shouldn't be a difficult process and sticking to our top ten tips will help to guide you through the process and ensure you get a great policy.

As always if you have any doubts about the options which are best for you, you should speak to one of our fully qualified and independent advisers. They don't charge any fees and will ensure you are getting the most suitable policy for the most competitive price.