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'I'm my own dependent – I need protection'
13 Feb 2020
LifeSearcher Ste knows the single story from two sides: as a veteran single and someone whose job is to help people – of all circumstances – protect themselves.
As Ste explains, it's important that singles investigate protection in order to cover the one dependent they do have.
Does the £10,000 Single Tax surprise you?
No it doesn't. It's higher than I thought, but I'd have guessed there'd be a big gap.
Why do you think it's so high?
I'm very close to my sister and brother-in-law and I see how well they manage their money and save as a couple: family deals, discounts, splitting costs. I'm just me.
I'm the older brother so when the three of us go for breakfast my instinct is to try and pick up the tab (not that they let me). Sure, there may be pride and ego there, but I also think singles assume that we can afford to spread the wealth because we only have ourselves to worry about. In fact the opposite's true.
I have friends who are coupled-up, and for them a nice Friday night looks like Netflix and pizza at home. Obviously I can do that too, but I think singles put ourselves under more pressure to go out, be among people, and 'enjoy life'. Pubs, restaurants, travel, dating - it quickly adds up.
Is protection necessary for singles?
Couples have another person to fall back on; they're more likely to have money saved and two families to help out. Singles are less likely to have these same robust safety nets - so we have to build them.
If you think about it - I do have a dependent: me. My mortgage and my life depends on me pulling in a wage. If something happens to me and I can't work, benefits wouldn't cover my overheads – the life I've built. I'd probably have to sell my house and give up the things I enjoy. I don't want to do that.
How might income protection help a single?
I've got an operation coming up. Operations need a certain amount of recovery time and sick pay only lasts so long. Income Protection is not expensive and it's a way I'll bridge the gap when I'm laid up and off work.
One of my single friends recently broke his leg in a motorbike accident. Obviously he insured the bike against damage – but not himself. The broken leg forced him off work and he was in big trouble. He actually gave up his flat and moved in with me to buy time and keep costs down. Income Protection would have avoided a lot of hurt and hassle.
What about Critical Illness Cover?
Again, I'd strongly advise looking at CIC. If I survived a heart attack, cancer or stroke, I could be looking at big lifestyle changes, at least in the short term. I don't have a partner on-call to lean on so I'd probably have to pay for help to keep the house running. My own running costs might go up too – I might have additional medical bills, travel and hospital visits to think about.
Paying for all this would be tough. I don't have a partner's wage to fall back on and I don't have any savings.
This is where CIC steps in. I'd get a payout and be able to keep a certain quality of life, with financial breathing room while I figured out the next chapter. There's also the stress factor. Suffering a life-altering illness is going to be stressful, you don't need or want money woes in the mix.
What if I have savings to fall back on?
If you're a single with savings, my guess is that you've had to sacrifice experiences and nice things to get there. If something unforeseen should happen, you do have a cushion but you've clearly worked hard to get there. Why lose it when you don't have to?
Protection is a relatively small monthly cost that can cover you getting hurt or sick or losing your income without needing to tap your savings. Protection means protecting you, your lifestyle - and your savings too.
Think of it this way, we're single now but that may not always be the case. Maybe we'd rather keep those savings on ice for when we are talking marriages, kids, mortgages.
Get sick or hurt and those savings could disappear almost overnight. Get covered and they won't.
Lastly – any good tips to help fellow singles save cash?
Yes - make a 'couple' with another person! Other people are in the same boat and us singles need to stick together. I share subscriptions to online streaming platforms, TV and gaming packages with friends – it’s an easy way to cut costs and spread the benefits.
Say an online streaming service costs £10 a month, that's £120 per year. Share it with another person and you claw back £60 to put towards food or clothes or travel. For me, I enjoy five entertainment subscriptions for the price of two-and-a-half.
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