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Comment: Renters aren’t immune to illness

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Generation Rent have as much need as homebuyers for income protection, but is the message getting through?

We all know how hard it is to get British people to place as much importance on protecting their income – and, indeed, their life – as they do on protecting their pets, their home and their car.

Arranging a mortgage is still rightly considered one of the best opportunities to initiate a protection conversation. However, do shifting homeownership trends and the emergence of Generation Rent mean we need to refocus?

In the UK, buying a new home and securing a mortgage on it are increasingly difficult. Unless you are fortunate to have relatives who can help with a deposit, it is likely that living with your parents or renting for longer will be your only options. Hence the average age of first-time buyers is 33, up from 31 in 2004-05, according to the English Housing Survey Headline Report 2014-15.

It is important to note, however, that people who rent require protection just as much as homeowners. They have bills to pay and credit commitments to honour and any savings they have may be earmarked for use as a deposit on a home. And they are equally susceptible to the risk of illness and its impact on their ability to earn an income.

The EHS report also highlights an increase in the number of families in the private rented sector with dependent children. It is important they understand the impact from loss of income should the main breadwinner be unable to work.

It would be great to see letting agents introduce the need for protection. And landlords would probably be keen to let to a tenant whose income was protected.

This issue relates mainly to Generation Y, otherwise known as Millenials. Communication to this age group ought to be straightforward and they should find it easy to apply for products.

The industry must continue to focus on ensuring that every mortgage holder has income protection. However, we also need to communicate that message to Generation Rent.

Mike Aldridge is sales director at London & Country

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