Yet only 47% of South African consumers think they will suffer a temporarily disabling injury during their working lives.
These statistics are highlighted in the #RealityCheck Consumer Survey conducted by life assurer FMI.
The survey also shows that many people (48% of those surveyed) believe life assurers offer cover only for death; they do not realise they can get cover for the very real risk of being disabled, says FMI CEO Brad Toerien.
Given a choice on how to protect themselves, however, most people (61% of those surveyed) would prefer to cover the risk of being disabled with an ongoing income benefit rather than a one-off lump-sum cash benefit. Yet 82% of disability cover is sold with lump-sum benefits.
General advice is that lump-sum life and disability cover is most useful to cover debts such as a home loan, car loans and personal loans.
Income-protection disability cover that pays a monthly income is the best match to replace your income and should include temporary disability cover that generally pays from the time you exhaust any paid sick leave you enjoy.
Lump-sum cover will only pay out if your disability is permanent.
Using a lump sum to provide an income is problematic because it is impossible to know how much cover you need, so everyone is either over- or underinsured, says Toerien.
In addition, there is the risk that you may spend the money rather than use it to provide an income, or your investment decisions may put your income at risk.