Most UAE expats financially unprepared for critical illness

Expats think it is somebody else's responsibility (File)

Expats in the UAE are among the least likely globally from a total of 12 countries to take a proactive approach towards ensuring they and their families are financially protected in the event of disability, critical illness or death, according to HSBC’s Power of Protection 2016 report.

An alarming 65 per cent of expats in the country believe it is someone else’s responsibility to provide financial stability to their families if something were to happen to them and they were no longer able to earn.

Similarly, around one in three (32 per cent), the highest globally, have not taken out life insurance because they expect someone else to arrange it.

The research provides insights into people’s concerns about the future and how they are financially protecting themselves and those closest to them.

The report, Confidence in the Future, assesses the views of over 11,000 people in 12 countries, and over 1,000 respondents in the UAE.

It revealed that tied in with the need for people to take more responsibility towards protecting their families’ futures, residents in the UAE lacked the awareness and understanding about the importance of investing in insurance.

Highlighting the need to take responsibility

People in the US are most likely to take responsibility for themselves (54 per cent) while those in China (77 per cent), the UAE (71 per cent) and Argentina (70 per cent) are the most likely to say someone else should be responsible.

Of the 65 per cent of residents in the UAE who believe that someone else should take responsibility for ensuring their family’s financial stability in the event of an incident, under a third (30 per cent) say that it should be their family.

People aged 55 and over are more likely to think that their family should take responsibility (35 per cent) compared to people aged 25-34 (29 per cent).

Nearly one in three (32 per cent) expect someone else to arrange their life insurance and 29 per cent expect someone else to arrange their health insurance.

Misperceptions about cost

Beyond the lack of awareness, another major barrier to taking out insurance appears to be cost-related as six in ten (60 per cent) expect or know that it is too expensive.

However, on average, life insurance policies for individuals can start at $1,500 (Dh5,500) annually – approximately $125 (Dh460) a month – and can vary based on factors such as age, cover and lifestyle.