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“Definitely not! Although the general aim of both types of policy is generally the same – to protect your income – the policies are actually quite different.

We could fill a number of pages on the technical differences between the two, but the bottom line is that an accident and illness policy is generally far more difficult to claim on when compared to a proper income protection policy.

Another important difference is around the term “guaranteed renewable”, also known as “non-cancellable”. With an accident and illness policy, the insurer can cancel your policy at any time if they think you’ve become too much of a risk. They can also exclude certain conditions as they wish.

For example, say you required a knee reconstruction whilst your accident and illness policy was in-force, the insurer would have to pay you for any time away from work, but at your next renewal they could add an exclusion to your policy stating they will not pay any further claims relating to your knee.

If you suffered a minor heart attack or stroke during the policy period, or decided to take up skydiving or some other dangerous pursuit, they may chose not to insure you at all when your next renewal is due. In this case, you may have great difficulty finding another insurer to offer any level of cover to you.

With income protection things are very different. Once your policy is in place, and provided there has been no fraud or dishonesty involved, the insurer MUST offer you a renewal each year and they cannot cancel your policy as long as you keen paying the premium.

If you suffer a dozen different claims relating to your back for example, the insurer will have to pay you each and every time. Furthermore, they cannot increase your premium regardless of the number of claims you make! Income protection and accident and illness can be very different beasts, so please don’t let your insurance broker try to fool you by selling you a “cheap” policy, as it may cost you a LOT more down the track.