Almost 5 million renters in the UK have no plans in place to cover their rent if they became too ill to earn for three months or more, even though recent cuts to housing benefits could leave them at risk.
The research by YouGov commissioned by Royal London found that over a quarter of renters in paid employment (27%) said they knew someone who had struggled in this situation.
More than one in three renters in paid employment (34%) admit they don't know how long they could survive.
Six in ten people (60%) who had some idea said they could only survive on their savings for three months or less.
Their first port of call would be to apply for state benefits (53%), followed by reducing their household expenses (47%) and then dipping into their savings (39%).
The research found that one in ten (7%) renters in paid employment have ever consulted a financial adviser. The most common place people turn to for financial advice is their family and friends.
Debbie Kennedy, head of protection for Royal London Intermediary, said:"Renters who assume that housing benefit will be there when they need it could find the reality is very different. A series of cuts to housing benefit means that more people would not get their rent paid in full if their income fell unexpectedly.
"It would be bad enough to be taken ill without the added anxiety of getting behind with the rent and facing possible eviction. Income protection may be more affordable than people realise and can provide a financial safety net and enable people to focus on getting better."
Economists predict over the next ten years the UK will experience falling levels of home ownership and rising levels of private renting.
In ten years' time, 59% of 20-39 year olds will rent privately, up from 45% in 2013. A further 15% are in social housing, renting from housing associations or local authorities.