Guide to Unemployment Insurance


What does it do?

Unemployment insurance has that rare attraction of doing just what it says it will do - it provides an indispensable financial safeguard in the event of the policy holder's unemployment. If the policy holder is made compulsorily redundant, the insurance will pay out a regular monthly benefit, the level of which is determined at the start of the cover.

What can the benefits be used for?

One of the beauties of unemployment insurance is its flexibility. When buying the cover, the decision is made whether its purpose will be to provide a general, replacement income in the event of unemployment, or whether it will be used specifically to protect regular monthly commitments such as mortgage repayments or for continuing repayments on a personal loan.

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What is the relevance of deciding which commitments to safeguard?

If the principle of unemployment insurance is simply to ensure a regular payout in the event of compulsory redundancy, does it matter to what purpose the benefits will be applied? This decision is relevant in a number of ways. Most obviously, if the intention is to cover a specific monthly commitment, such as the mortgage or other borrowing, this will determine the amount of cover that needs to be purchased. But the choice of cover is also relevant to the maximum cover that can be arranged. Typically most payment protection insurance policies will allow cover of up to 50% of the policy holder's normally earned income, or £1,500 a month (whichever is less), for unemployment income. The precise limits, however, may vary from insurer to insurer.

If I have to claim, how long would the insurance benefits be payable?

Whether unemployment insurance is arranged to provide a general replacement income or to cover mortgage or other borrowing commitments, the benefits will be payable for as long as the policy holder remains unemployed and until he or she has found another job. If alternative employment has still not been found after 12 months, the majority of policies will then cease payment of benefits, although some offer the facility - on payment of an additional premium - to extend the maximum period of any payment to 24 months.

Am I eligible for unemployment insurance cover?

Eligibility is open to anyone of working age (18 to 65 years) who is permanently resident in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man. Any prospective policy holder must be in regular employment at the commencement of the cover and have been regularly employed for at least the previous six months. Furthermore, given the nature of this type of insurance, there must be no actual or impending notice of redundancy known to the policy holder at the start of the cover. In order to prevent unfair claims from those likely to have known about an impending redundancy at the start of the cover, unemployment insurance policies will have an initial "exclusion period" - typically 120 days (but varying from insurer to insurer) - which specifically exclude claims under the policy.

Unemployment insurance is certainly something that anyone in full time employment may wish to consider, particularly in times of an uncertain economy.


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