While 41% of employees expect to rely on savings if forced out of work due to illness or injury, with the average household savings at only £20 a month (ONS Family Spending 2013), this is less than realistic, Group Risk Development (GRiD) has warned.
Research also found a quarter of employees (27%) would have to rely on state benefits if they were forced out of work for any length of time.
GriD noted that Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) is, at best, £108 a week, after 14 weeks' absence from work.
This, said GRiD, highlights the importance of protecting income against long term absence from work, as the average weekly household expenditure in the UK is £489 a week (ONS Family Spending 2013) - leaving consumers approximately £381 a week short
By comparison, those with employer sponsored income protection, received on average £421 a week during 2013 according to GRID.
Just 15% of employees questioned said they currently have their own insurance in place that would pay out in the event of ill health.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for Group Risk Development, said: "There is a small minority of individuals who protect themselves against long term sick leave but the majority appear to have unrealistic plans to survive financially.
"Employers who make provision for their work force are under no obligation to do so but those that do are well placed to make a real difference to them and their families in a time of financial and personal distress.
"What's more they are also providing a vital means of reducing the UK's sickness absence burden and producing a more financially resilient society."