Writing for Business Advice, PMI leader at insurer Active Quote, Mark Todd, looks at the health insurance benefits available to support self-employed workers, who are still widely failing to protect their livelihoods against the threat of serious illness or injury.
As a sole trader, a franchisee, or a partner within a partnership, you are your business’ most valuable asset.
Safeguarding oneself against the potential for professional damages, with a personal indemnity health insurance policy or similar, is one of the first moves many make when setting up in business.
Much less common, however, is the tendency to invest in one’s personal health and wellbeing for the sake of the greater good.
How many of us have truly considered what not being able to work through ill health or following an accident would mean for ourselves or our businesses, let alone made any formal provision for it? And, what would happen to stakeholders and associates involved in that work if you weren’t there?
With 4.86m self-employed people in the UK, accounting for 15 per cent of the working population, the number of freelancers and other self-employed workers is expected to increase further in 2018.
Despite this, a massive 93 per cent of the UK’s self-employed have no health insurance or critical illness cover, leaving a large proportion open to financial ruin if forced to take long-term sick leave.
Four in ten of those self-employed people without health insurance insist they don’t need critical illness cover, or don’t see it as a financial priority.
However, three quarters of these business owners or partners have no employees, and no-one to cover for them should they fall ill and be unable to work.
Taking extended sick leave is therefore estimated to cost those in self-employment an average of £67,550 each per year, amounting to a national financial risk of more than £300bn annually.
In light of such statistics, moves have been made to provide those in charge of their own enterprises with accessible health insurance cover, and give the self-employed a much needed break when it comes to ensuring their livelihoods are protected.
Business owners may or may not be aware of health insurance schemes like that of the Western Provident Association (WPA), which has pledged to provide self-employed people with a flexible range of health policies at discounted rates.
A specialist health insurer which was founded in 1901 as the Reading Working Peoples’ Voluntary Hospital Contributory Fund, the WPA is a not-for-profit organisation which exists to make healthcare as affordable as possible through its family policies and corporate schemes.
In this spirit, anyone currently recognised by HMRC as actively self-employed, as a holder of a recognised franchise agreement, a director of a private limited company or a partner (within a partnership) can access healthcare cover via the WPA at a 20 per cent reduction in cost over other service users.
In addition, the discount available not only applies to the on health insurance policy holder (you) but also family members too, with a 20 per cent discount available up to the age of 55, and diminishing by 2 per cent every year thereafter until the age of 65.
Overall, the support provided is intended to get you access to a range of appropriate healthcare measures as quickly as possible, so that you can get back to running your business and tending to your clients before the situation becomes too critical, physically or professionally.
With self-employment now widely attributed as a cornerstone of today’s economy, from an on health insurance industry perspective, accessing affordable personal protection policies is more vital than ever for those individuals who are their businesses.
Many still don’t have a pension, for example, and others simply cannot afford to take a day off work, whatever time of year it may be.
Bearing all this in mind, the need for sole traders and self-employed to safeguard their livelihoods against the complications ill health can bring about has never been greater.
Health insurance providers like the WPA mean securing cover doesn’t have to be as costly as you might think.
Indeed, as a body that began life as a group of workers voluntarily contributing part of their weekly wage to maintaining their health – half a century before the NHS was created – the WPA provides anyone in employment with an insurance cover option worth considering.
Mark Todd is PMI leader at Active Quote, an insurer with more than 40 years of industry experience.
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