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I was recently speaking with my account manager James Riches from LV= and he asked me this very simple question. Can you afford to retire tomorrow?

It really hit me as one of the most important questions I had ever been asked. No. In all honesty, no I couldn't afford to retire tomorrow. I have a mortgage, two small children and own a business that I run with my husband. There is no way that I could stop working tomorrow and be able to afford to meet all of my outgoings and maintain my current standard of living.

In the UK 20% of families have pet insurance. As a nation we fall below other countries like Switzerland, Australia, Mexico, Malaysia and the United States when it comes to insuring ourselves in the event that we are unable to work. Just 9% of us have income protection in place!

It is difficult at times to explain the importance of income protection to the general masses. As soon as we say "income protection" we are going straight into insurance gobbledygook that turns people off. It is also very easy for us as individuals to think that these situations will never happen to us, or that the state will provide for us if we are ill.

It is true that the state will take care of you if you are ill. If you are employed you will get statutory sick pay for 28 weeks, you can apply for employment support allowance, you can use the NHS. But is this going to allow you to keep living? To pay for your Sky TV, go out for a meal a few times a month, pay for your kids hobbies, buy the latest gadgets. Why not as a test, try and live off £88.45 for a month which is the state statutory sick pay. If you had to, I bet you could, but I know that I would certainly have a good grumble about it.

Income Protection is one of the most flexible insurance policies that you can arrange. You can choose when you want the policy to end, how quickly you want it to kick in once you are unable to work and how long the payments will last for. The beauty of it as well, is that there are so many different policies in the market, from short term to long term income protection, that there are options out there for almost everyone.

The important thing is knowing which insurers policy is right for you and your circumstances. LV= for example have a fantastic income protection policy that will work alongside the sick pay structure of NHS workers. Unum offer a great group income protection package for employers. Many of your Friendly Societies have plans geared towards people working in more manual jobs. There are also providers who can cover hazardous sports and occupations.

It's all about knowing where to look! You could research the market, study the perks and quirks of these policies, or better yet, use us!! This is what we live and breathe and we can provide you complete advice on what will and will not work for you. Our recent win as the UK's Best Small Intermediary of 2016 at the Cover Excellence awards, is a testament to the quality of advice that you will get from us.

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