Its true many illnesses that years ago would always have been fatal are now survivable although you may not recover completely. And it’s not just physical illness that can be debilitating. There are no guarantees you can return to being self-employed full time, at least not initially and you may find your life never returns completely to ‘normal’.

For the self-employed, a prolonged period of illness can be particularly damaging financially. Think about how you currently spend your money. You probably have a mortgage, possibly loans too. Then there are credit cards, and school fees and money to pay for bills and food. It all adds up. If suddenly you are unable to earn, it’s easy to see how you can end up reliant on your savings. And when they run out there isn’t much statutory provision for the self-employed. You won’t qualify for SSP (such as it is) but will be entitled to a form of ESA. You might also reasonably question whether you’d want to use your savings this way.

Whether you’re a dentist, accountant or window cleaner, if you’re self-employed no one can take your place and when you take time off work, your earnings stop. Some illnesses can last months or years and even when you’re on the road to recovery you may not be able to work much, if at all.

When people mention serious illness they automatically think of cancer. It’s certainly true that the odds of getting cancer are now 1 in 3. But equally, you could suffer back pain or suffer from stress, both of which are frequently chronic or from any one of a number of serious illnesses. There are hundreds.

There are various forms of self-employed illness cover you can consider. Critical illness cover does provide protection but for a limited range of conditions and pays out a lump sum if you meet the usually stringent policy conditions. Some policies linked to life insurance only pay out if you’re terminally ill. An alternative is income protection cover, which provides regular income if you are unable to work, until you’re back working.

Arranging illness cover through income protection provides cover for the widest range of conditions, both physical and mental. Unlike critical illness cover, income protection cover has a high pay out rate against a wide range of conditions and is a flexible form of cover. For example, our policies can be structured to dovetail with ESA or with any other cover you have so there is no overlap. As a mutual society, we are run for the benefit of our policyholders, who all receive a tax free lump sum on retirement.

Of course, when business people are still cautious about the economy you might still say you can’t afford cover. But can you really afford to be without it?