A think tank has called for a quality mark to create minimum standards for Income Protection (IP) as its research revealed cancer costs families the same as 'an average mortgage.'
The report by Demos calculated the financial burden for both sufferers and survivors as on average £570 a month or almost £7,000 a year - equal to the average annual cost of a mortgage in the UK.
It urged the government to work with the insurance industry to develop a quality mark of minimum standards in the IP industry, similar to the minimum standards introduced by the Pensions Act in 2008 for workplace pensions.
"Such as scheme would take place in partnership with the Treasury's Simple Products review and would set a standard model for IP. In return for compliance, IP could also be incorporated as an optional opt-into the NEST workplace pensions scheme" the organisation recommended.
It also called for a greater investment in advice around the risk of financial shock. IP providers should explain clearly to employees what their risk of cancer is and what they can do to protect themselves and their families, the report said.
The report also recommended better training for front line staff in banks to improve specialist rates to specialist teams, encourage early intervention and deliver better customer experiences and outcomes to people with cancer and other long-term chronic conditions.
The FCA should ensure firms are providing appropriate levels of support to their customers, it added.
Meanwhile, there should be "better payment systems" for people to temporarily delegate payments during an illness or treatment, to help people take a step back - temporarily - from managing their finances and alleviating stress.
Demos found 4 in 5 (83%) of those affected by cancer experienced negative financial repercussions, with the biggest impact coming from lost earnings (experienced by 30%).
The report also recommended a greater role for employers and for The Department for Health and DWP work together to find "shared savings" by improving employment outcomes for people with long-term and chronic conditions.
Ciarán Devane, chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, who contributed to the report, said "As well as everything else, a cancer diagnosis can be financially crippling. It also hits when someone is at their most vulnerable. Sadly, there is no magic bullet because the financial challenge cancer patients face is often complex and varied.
"Macmillan is calling on the government, businesses and the NHS to consider these recommendations urgently. People living with cancer should not be left to deal with the terrible financial strain alone. As the report shows, it is good for the individual but also in our self interest to help them."
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