Six million homes, half of all mortgaged residential property in the UK, could be at risk because the owners are not covered by any form of protection insurance; according to research.
The survey of 2,000 people conducted by Friends Life found nearly 60% of people said their main source of income, if they were diagnosed with cancer and unable to work; would be their partner's salary or savings.
That is despite almost half of mortgage payers admitting they have £10,000 or less in savings and investments, far less than needed to provide for average household mortgage debt.
But the Friends Life research found more than half (57%) of all UK mortgage payers do not have any form of protection insurance which means they would have to find a way to cover their monthly mortgage repayments even if they were unable to work.
Life insurance continues to be the most popular form of protection. However, only two in five (38%) mortgage payers hold a policy, and take up falls even further for critical illness cover (14%) and income protection (7%).
Friends Life said that Londoners are most at risk with those owning property in the capital least likely to have any kind of protection insurance, despite property prices being the highest in the UK.
The survey showed that just a third (34%) have any form of protection insurance, lower than anywhere else in the country. It means owners of more than 775,000 homes in London are unprotected.
Meanwhile residents in Northern Ireland were more financially savvy with nearly double having some form of life insurance, critical illness cover or income protection.
Steve Payne, managing director of UK Protection at Friends Life, said: "To find that six million homes are at risk because the owners have no financial safety net protecting them is almost unbelievable. Buying a house is the biggest investment most people will ever make and it's hard to comprehend why people wouldn't want to safeguard that.
"It has never been more important for people to be getting advice about protection insurance. Property prices are continuing to rise so a home as an investment is getting more valuable - another reason why protecting it is so important."
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