A new report reveals that the vast majority of self-employed workers have no contingency plan or critical illness cover in the event that they cannot work.
A study by Scottish Widows has found that 93% of the UK's 4.8 million self-employed workers have no critical illness cover. With one in seven UK workers now self-employed, it means that around 4.4 million people have no protection in place to cover illness or injury.
In addition, nearly half of those surveyed (47%) said they did not have any other kind of contingency plan. Taking time off due to illness would cost them an average of £67,550 each per year according to the report.
Four in ten (42%) uninsured, self-employed workers say they don't need critical illness insurance or don't see it as a financial priority - even though 76% of business owners are sole traders with no-one to cover for them should they fall ill.
The findings show that the average self-employed worker only has enough personal savings to last an average of 9.2 months if they were unable to work because of injury or ill health.
The survey also found that 50% admit that they don't insure key pieces of work equipment, such as laptops and tools. And 70% of self-employed workers say they don't have life insurance.
Johnny Timpson, protection specialist at Scottish Widows, said: "Self-employed workers put immeasurable amounts of time and money into getting their businesses off the ground, but our research reveals that they're failing to protect their greatest asset - themselves. This is particularly concerning when you consider that this workforce has a more limited range of working-age welfare benefits.
"Self-employment and self-reliance go hand in hand, so it's absolutely vital that these workers have a back-up plan in place should the unexpected happen."