I’m single and need to protect myself – what cover is right for me?

Arranging the right type of protection insurance can seem like a bit of a maze. If this is the first time you have considered it then hopefully you will find this a useful aid and it will point you in the right direction.

When considering arranging protection insurance it’s important to take into account your circumstances and what situations could leave you in a vulnerable financial position.

Do I need Income Protection?

For most single people the most important product you should consider is an Income Protection policy.

Income Protection Insurance helps to protect your income if you were unable to work, as a result of an accident or sickness. The most common reasons for claims are back problems and mental health issues.

This cover should be arranged to dovetail any sick pay arrangements provided by your employer so that the benefit starts to pay out as your sick pay stops. This cover would probably be even more relevant if you are self-employed or if you are a director of a small business.

Having an Income Protection policy in place would mean that you will still benefit from the security of an ongoing income and you can concentrate on getting better without the stress of worrying about money.

Do I need Critical Illness Insurance?

In some circumstances having a Critical Illness Insurance policy would also make sense. This type of policy would pay out a lump sum in the event of you being diagnosed with an illness covered by the policy.

Most critical illness policies cover between 40 – 80 specific conditions, but it would pay to take advice as the ‘policy wording’ can differ tremendously between one policy and the next. All Critical Illness Insurance policies cover certain cancers, multiple sclerosis, heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, coronary artery bypasses, and major organ transplants.

This type of policy would probably not cover you if you had a bad back or were diagnosed with stress or depression unless the diagnosis resulted in you being assessed as never being able to work again.

Critical Illness Insurance cover may well be suitable, probably as well as an Income Protection policy, if you have a mortgage. For example, if you were diagnosed with cancer, and the diagnosis meant that you were unable to work for a year or two whilst you underwent treatment, an Income Protection policy would start paying you a monthly income, and a critical illness policy would pay you a lump sum, which you could use to pay for treatment, pay off some or all of your mortgage, or simply put it into your bank.

Do I need Life Insurance?

Life insurance is probably the least relevant policy for a single person. A life insurance policy is usually beneficial if you have dependents who require the security of a lump sum if you pass away. Probably the only circumstances where life cover is suitable if you are single would be to pay off a mortgage or to leave a lump sum for someone specific in the event of your death, but even in these circumstances, it would probably be worth you taking some advice.

Susan is a 33 year old Marketing Manager. She’s single, a non-smoker and currently rents her property. She’s concerned about putting a policy in place which would provide her an income if she couldn’t work, because of an illness or as the result of an accident. She earns £29,000 a year and her employer provides 1 month’s sick pay.

If she were to choose a comprehensive Income Protection policy, this would pay a maximum monthly benefit of £1,450 a month after a waiting period of 4 weeks. The benefit would continue to pay out until she reaches the age of 65 or until she is able to return to work, for a monthly premium of £37.79.

Alternatively she could arrange a Short term Income Protection policy which would only pay the benefit for a maximum period of 24 months for any one claim, for a monthly premium of £16.10.

A comprehensive critical illness policy which would pay out a lump sum of £100,000 if she was diagnosed with a critical illness, covered by the policy, before reaching the age of 65 would cost from £44.47 a month.

A more basic critical illness policy which would pay out a lump sum of £100,000 if she was diagnosed with a critical illness, covered by the policy, before reaching the age of 65 would cost from £38.41 a month.

Quotes correct as of July 2023.

Please note that any premiums mentioned are indicative only and based on this specific case study/ example, which is shown for information purposes only. Premiums shown are an average of the 5 cheapest insurers. Your own circumstances will determine whether the amount payable is more or less than the figure quoted.

Frequently asked questions

  • A: Yes. What would happen if you were sick or injured and were unable to work and your sick pay had come to an end?

    If this would cause you financial hardship, you should probably be considering arranging an Income Protection policy.


  • A: This means that you would be covered in the event of an accident or sickness and you were assessed as being unable to do your own job. This is a very important definition as some policies would only cover you in the event of being unable to do a ‘suited occupation’ or in the worst case, ‘any occupation’. It is important to talk to an adviser who will help to explain why these definitions could make the difference between a claim being paid or not.


  • A: If your sport of choice is risky, such as mountaineering, or motor bike racing, then yes it could well make a difference. The riskier the hobby or pursuit the higher the premiums, although again this can vary between one insurer and the next, so it is best to take advice.

  • A: It may well be that you don’t need any life insurance, but Income Protection or Critical illness insurance could be suitable. When you’re single you are often self-dependent and having protection in place could provide much needed financial support if you were ill or had an accident.


  • A: This is the period of time you will have to wait between being signed off work and when the benefit from your Income Protection policy starts to pay out. You set the deferred (or waiting) period at the time of arranging your policy. Ideally this should dovetail with the sick pay you receive from your employer.


  • A: In short – yes. Most insurers will assess you based upon your occupation type. The riskier the occupation, the higher the premiums, although this can vary between one insurer and the next, so it is best to take advice.