With rising numbers of people being admitted to hospital due to severe stress, experts are urging UK workers to invest in income protection insurance to protect themselves against the health implications of the economic crisis.
New figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HCIS) show that nearly 6,400 people were hospitalised with stress in the 12 months to May 2012.
Not only is this a seven per cent rise on figures from the previous year, but it represents a staggering 47 per cent increase since 2007-8 when the economic crisis first hit.
As the HCIS figures do not take into account people who visited their GPs, Accident and Emergency or sought alternative practitioners’ advice, experts believe the actual figure could be much higher.
Dr Richard Theo, of income protection insurance comparison website ActiveQuote, said: “Stress is the single biggest cause of sickness in the UK, affecting one in five of the working population and causing the loss of 105 million working days each year.”
“But stress is not just a condition in itself; it is also a trigger for a range of other health conditions, from mental illness, depression and anxiety to high blood pressure and heart attacks.”
According to the statistics, those of working age are most likely to be hospitalised for stress. Depending on the severity of their condition, sufferers may be unable to return to their job for a prolonged period of time.
With government illness and disability benefit only paying out a maximum of £99.15 per week to eligible claimants, the financial implications of being out of work for a long period of time can be serious.
Dr Theo recommends UK workers consider investing in income protection. He explains: “An income protection policy is designed to replace your income if you cannot work due to a long-term illness such as severe stress.
“Rather than relying on your savings or government benefits, an income protection policy will pay you up to 70% of your income every month, with some plans even paying out up until retirement. This type of policy could provide much needed peace of mind during a recession.”
But Dr Theo warns that income protection insurance is unlikely to cover pre-existing conditions. He said: “People who are looking to protect their income against accident and sickness should compare income protection quotes as a pre-emptive step to safeguard their finances in the future.”