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Income protection insurance for nurses

We look at how income protection for nurses works and how it could help you and your family

A photo of Daniel Sharpe-Szunko, the author

By Daniel Sharpe-Szunko

Published on: 11 September 2021

6 min read

Income protection insurance for nurses

Nurses and other medical staff have slightly different needs when it comes to Income protection insurance, but it’s still worth thinking about. 

Many public sector workers don’t feel that they need income protection insurance because of the support that they would be offered by their employer, in this case the NHS. Some of the most common claims on income protection insurance are longer term sickness such as cancer, stroke or heart attacks. 

It is unfortunately fairly common for nurses and other public sector workers to need to take long periods off work due to illness or injury. 

In this section, we look at how income protection insurance for nurses works and how it can potentially help you and your family. We’ll aim to answer some of your most commonly asked questions and explain what this type of cover does. 

Can nurses have income protection insurance? 

Yes, in most cases a nurse should be able to get standard income protection insurance with no exclusions or restrictions. 

There are some things to think about that might have an impact on your application for income protection insurance for nurses. These are just standard factors that would apply to anyone buying this type of cover. 

What effects income protection insurance applications: 

  • Health 
  • Medical history 
  • Lifestyle 
  • Sports and activities 
  • Occupation 

If you disclose certain medical conditions on your application or if you take part in certain high risk activities, then your application might need further underwriting. 

What is income protection insurance for nurses? 

An income protection policy for nurses and other medical professionals will usually cover up to 60% of your gross earnings if you can’t work because of illness or injury. It’s designed to protect you and your family from financial loss during longer periods of absences from sickness. This can be very helpful particularly if your loved ones rely on your income heavily.

Income protection insurance can be used to pay for: 

As a nurse, you will be entitled to sick pay (see below) which will provide you with income for up to 12 months. This is often insufficient for most people to be able to survive for extended periods of absence, such as serious illness or medical issues. 

Sick pay for nurses

In the table below, these are the figures that are quoted by the Royal College of Nursing (for full information you can revert to your handbook, section 14). 

Current sick pay entitlement for nurses in England and Wales: 

Within the first 12 months of employment 1 month full pay and 2 months half pay 
Within the second year of employment 2 months full pay and 2 months half pay 
Within the third year of employment 4 months full pay and 4 months half pay 
Within the fourth and fifth years of employment 5 months full pay and 5 months half pay 
After six years of employment 6 months full pay and 6 months half pay 

How much does income protection insurance for nurses cost?

Your premiums for your own nurses income protection insurance policy is based on a number of elements. 

The reality is that income protection insurance for nurses generally costs less than standard cover. This is because of the fact that nurses get more support from their employer than most and you can choose longer deferred periods (usually 6 to 12 months). 

When you apply for a new income protection policy, your premiums will be based on several things. Also, nurses will be asked whether any of their regular duties are classed as higher risk. 

How are income protection insurance premiums calculated: 

  • Your age (when you apply) 
  • Monthly benefit (amount of cover) 
  • Type of cover (short term or long term) 
  • Term (years) 
  • Deferred period 
  • Smoker status 
  • Health (any pre-existing medical conditions) 

Here’s an example of how much income protection insurance for nurses costs: 

Age Smoker status Monthly benefit Term (years) Health conditions Type of cover Deferred period Premium 
35 No £1,500 25 years None Short term 6 months £9.77 

Why do nurses need income protection insurance? 

There are many reasons why nurses and other medical professionals might need income protection insurance. 

Many nurses simply don’t believe that they can have or that they need income protection insurance. The reality is that we’re all unfortunately at risk of sickness and it can happen at any time which can cause financial difficulty, even with NHS sick pay. 

Some potential medical risks for nurses: 

  • Cancer 
  • Mental illness 
  • HIV 
  • Heart conditions 
  • Serious injury 
  • Stroke 

The sick pay benefit for nurses is a one of the best on offer in the country, but there are still other risks that could result in financial difficulty. 

It’s important to consider what you might do if you were unable to work for longer periods of time and how it might impact your family. Income protection insurance for nurses is designed to cover against longer term sickness and offer the highest levels of financial security. 

If you’re still not sure if income protection is right for you, you can learn more in our ‘Do I need income protection insurance?’ guide.

Will nurses income protection insurance pay out for HIV? 

It is understandable that nurses and other medical staff working in the health care sector will be concerned about HIV from blood transfusions and other risks. 

Some insurers will exclude HIV as standard with any income protection for nurses policies, but that’s not true for all insurers. You’ll need to check your insurance acceptance terms to make sure that you’re properly covered with no exclusions for people living with HIV. 

Cheaper income protection insurance for nurses 

This is one of the best things about income protection insurance for nurses, premiums will generally be cheaper than standard cover. 

Most insurance companies will offer cover on a standard basis for registered nurses with no exclusions or special terms. This is mainly because nursing is generally not considered to be a high risk or hazardous occupation. 

Why is income protection cheaper for nurses? This is because of the amount of sick pay that is offered by the NHS as a standard element of the contract of employment. You should be able to get significantly cheaper premiums than a ‘normal employee’ would get. 

What is the best income protection insurance for nurses? 

There are lots of different options that are available when looking for income protection insurance. It can be difficult to say which are the best options for nurses without knowing your exact circumstances, but there are some simple rules to follow. 

Some of the main things to remember when you’re applying for income protection insurance for nurses: 

  • Deferred periods: the waiting period before your claim payments start to pay out. The best options are 6 or 12 months (depending on your contract and affordability) to get lower premiums and more suitable cover 
  • Short term income protection: you can choose a short term policy that will pay out for 12 or 24 months per claim 
  • Long term income protection: you could also select a long term policy if you wanted to get full and comprehensive cover 

How to get income protection insurance for nurses 

You can speak to an income protection insurance specialist to get proper advice about which options are best for you. An expert will also have access to multiple insurance providers and be best placed to explain your options. 

There are other options of course and you can contact insurers directly yourself to get a quote (which you may want to if you already have a policy such as life insurance with them). You can also apply online if you’re comfortable to do it this way. 


NHS Digital – NHS Sickness Absence Rates

Nuffield Trust – What is the NHS sickness absence rate compared to the public sector average?

Royal College of Nursing – Healthy workplace, healthy you

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