'Catastrophe life cover gap' in which people's fear outweighs level of life cover in place
An annual report by LifeSearch investigating lifestyle choices, spending habits and work/life balance has found that nearly half (48%) of the Brits surveyed were willing to sacrifice five to 10 percent of their salary for the free time that they think they would need to make them 'happy' (£2000).
The Health, Wealth & Happiness Report 2018, which surveyed 2008 UK adults, also found that the number of people who believe they have a poor work/life balance is up 10% on last year - with 44% of the full-time workforce saying they work too much - and 60% said they would sacrifice some of their salary for more free time (4% more than 2017).
Meanwhile, almost half (46%) of millennials believed they have a poor work/life balance and a quarter said they are concerned by work-related stress compared to one in seven (15%) of 35-54 year olds, and less than one in 20 (4%) over-55s.
When asked to put a value on their free time outside of work, the average Brit said £61,829 per year, with women having a significantly higher self-valuation than men (£62,020 versus £59,533) and millennials valuing themselves more than twice as highly as baby boomers (£83,701 compared to just £34,651).
According to the report, more men than women (62% versus 57%) are willing to sacrifice their salary to regain free time, but women are prepared to part with more, with 6% of them saying they would be happy to let go of more than 20% of their yearly salary for time away from work.
Scotland is the region most willing to sacrifice the highest proportion of their salary (8.4%), followed by Wales (8.2%), the South West (7.6%) and the North East (7.5%).
"After marrying up the findings on what people say makes them happy and unhappy, with how people say they protect themselves and their families against the catastrophe of potentially losing their income through disability or death, we've identified what we're calling 'the catastrophe life cover gap'," said Tom Baigrie, chief executive at LifeSearch. "This is where a person's situation highlights to us that having life cover in place would be good for their peace of mind, but they've not protected themselves in this way."
According to the research, nearly one in five women (18%) cited being unable to pay bills as a worry and they are also more concerned than men about poor health in the future (33% compared to 29%), however 60% of women said they do not have life insurance. Men however are more protected, with just over half (51%) saying they have no cover. "This gap in cover between the genders, echoes other findings in the research and clearly needs to be addressed," said Baigrie.
The report found that the average value of life cover in place for people in the UK is £105,303, with Scotland recorded as having the lowest average (£69,792) and West Midlands showing the lowest uptake, where just over a third (37%) have life insurance. London residents are most likely to have cover (57%), the research suggested.
Men's average policy value is much higher value than women's, the report showed - £113.032 compared with £94, 759 - and 14% of men had polices worth over £100,000 compared to 7% of women.
"We as a nation are getting better at expressing our financial fears and hopes - which is good news. But the whole subject of money is still shrouded in mystery and anxiety for most people," said Iona Bain, financial commentator and author. "That's why so many of us sleepwalk through our working lives, never realising that more money isn't necessarily the answer - it's about managing the money you have so you can lead a more fulfilled, balanced life and sleep well at night.
"We all too often revert to the belief that more money will sort out our financial problems, particularly when the economic outlook seems so frightening," she continued. "But if you don't know what to do with your money, and if you don't know where to go to get advice and insure yourself against life's worst possibilities, you'll remain stuck. The UK's workforce is getting itself into a bizarre muddle where we're working longer, trying to earn more but aren't necessarily happier or more secure in the process."
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