Younger women are not financially protected against breast cancer

27th October 2014

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Young women are not financially protecting themselves against breast cancer, the most common kind of cancer in the UK, according to new research from Friends Life.

The figures from the insurer – released to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month – show that women under 34 are among the least likely to have any personal protection insurance with just 16% aged 18-34 having any cover.

This means that should they become ill and unable to work or were to die, they and their family may struggle financially as there may not be a safety net in place.

Presently there are an estimated 570,000 people living in the UK who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Colin Williams at Friends Life said: “While cancer survival rates are improving it’s important that people are aware of their chances of getting the disease. Almost everyone will be touched by cancer at some stage in their lives, whether it’s themselves or a friend or relative.

“But our research shows that many people are not taking financial precautions to make sure they can continue to pay their bills if they were to become ill. Facing cancer is a big enough struggle and money worries through time off work should not have to be a part of that.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer with more than 50 thousand people diagnosed with the disease each year. For women aged up to 29 there is a one in 2000 chance of developing breast cancer, falling to one in 215 by the time a woman reaches 39.

The research from Friends Life shows that among women aged under 34, life insurance is the most popular form of protection. However, only 13% actually have the cover. That falls to 5% for critical illness policies and less than 3% for income protection – despite consumer champion Which? describing it as “the one protection policy every working adult in the UK should consider”.

The problems highlighted by a lack of protection insurance are compounded by the lack of savings among the same age group. Half of women aged 18-34 have £2,500 or less in savings and investments meaning they don’t have much to fall back on if they are out of work with illness.

Williams added: “Young people now have to stretch their finances more and more with increasing levels of student debt and the cost of climbing onto the property ladder,” said Colin Williams. “But younger women do need to bear in mind what financial responsibilities they have and what would happen if they were unable to work for an extended period of time.

“A woman has a one in 8 chance of contracting breast cancer at some time in her life. While it is more common in women over 50 those younger than that shouldn’t underestimate the risk.”

Friends Life own claim figures from the past two years show that the company has made critical illness pay outs for breast cancer to women as young as 27. In total, Friends Life paid out just under £50m to women with the illness during 2012 and 2013.

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