The majority of UK adults have no awareness of limited state support should they be unable to work through illness or disability, according to Zurich research.
The ICM survey, commissioned by ‘The Syndicate' on behalf of insurers, showed a third of respondents had "no idea" how long Employee Support Allowance (ESA) could be claimed for.
In the survey Zurich asked the question: "What constitutes a typical claim period for ESA?" and a fifth thought they were entitled to claim for between four to six months.
Less than a fifth of those surveyed (16%) gave the correct answer of between 9 and 12 months, while other responses varied widely ranging from less than one month to over two years; only 8% had an expectation of ESA support beyond two years.
Nick Homer, protection manager at Zurich UK Life, said: "It's encouraging to see a shift in public opinion with few people now having an expectation of long term state support, however there remains great confusion among the public regarding the level of state benefit provision for those who are unable to work as a result of illness or injury.
"Regrettably, this clouds the important message regarding the need for private provision. As an industry we have a role to play encouraging more people to take responsibility for their financial planning."
The report will be launched in full on 23 January 2013.
Kevin Carr, chief executive of The Protection Review, said: "With ongoing reductions in government benefits we are seeing a huge transfer of risk from governments and large corporations onto individuals and it is important for consumers to act themselves to protect the one thing that pays for everything else, which is their income."
ESA was introduced in 2008 to replace a range of incapacity benefits. Following the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) period the government will pay basic ESA allowance for 13 weeks while applicants are assessed.
Eligible applicants are put into one of two groups; people who are able to work (Work Related Activity Group) and those whose illness or disability severely limits what they can do (Support Group).
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