British Friendly Income Protection Insurance Review

9 min Read Published: 04 Aug 2023

British Friendly Income Protection reviewBritish Friendly offers Income Protection insurance, sometimes called sick pay insurance and in this article, we'll take a close look at how British Friendly income protection insurance works, how much it costs and the added benefits that British Friendly offers. We also explain if you can get sick pay insurance based on your occupation and if British Friendly income protection is any good.

If you would like to read more about Income Protection insurance and whether it is something that you need, you can find some very useful information in our article, Income Protection - Do you really need it?

Or, jump ahead if you want to know How to buy British Friendly Income Protection insurance and get up to £100 cashback when you arrange your policy.

What is income protection insurance?

Arguably the most important personal insurance, Income Protection insurance provides a monthly income to replace lost earnings due to illness or injury. It can be especially vital when you consider that statutory sick pay only pays around £110 per week, falling a long way short of what most people need to cover their bills and put food on the table.

Certainly, the risks of falling ill or becoming injured and not being able to work are higher than the risks of dying prematurely. The problem is that many people working in hands-on, manual or risky occupations, feel that the insurance is either difficult to arrange or too expensive. Also, if you're self-employed and your income fluctuates, you might feel that you can't take out any sick pay insurance because it will be difficult to prove your income when you go to claim. British Friendly's products offer an option that strives to overcome these hurdles.

Who is British Friendly?

British Friendly is a mutual society, specialising in Income Protection insurance. Being a mutual business means that it is owned by its customers and not by shareholders.

Founded in 1902, British Friendly first set out to provide sickness insurance for commercial travellers and their families. It continues to provide Income Protection insurance that is focused on protecting those who would usually find it difficult or expensive to arrange this type of insurance. The focus is on providing flexible, affordable insurance that pays out when it is needed.

Impressively, Bedford-based British Friendly paid an average of 95% of claims over the last 16 years.

British Friendly is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. It is also incorporated under the Friendly Societies Act 1992. BFS Member Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

British Friendly has won awards over the years for its customer service, claims and innovation, including Best Income Protection Provider 2018 at the Health Insurance Daily Awards. British Friendly was also highly commended in the category, Best Claims Management/Claims Team 2020 and Cover Excellence Awards' Best Added Value Award 2020.

British Friendly Overview

  • Provides 3 different types of Income Protection insurance, called Breathing Space, Short Term and Long Term.
  • Specific income protection for teachers and NHS employees with Protect Teacher and NHS Sick Pay Protection
  • Breathing Space offers income protection without the need to prove your income as long as you can prove that you're working.
  • Includes a discretionary Death Benefit that is also payable upon diagnosis of a Terminal Illness.
  • Includes a discretionary Carer Benefit that provides financial support if you have to take time off work to care for a seriously ill or injured partner/spouse, child or parent/parent-in-law.
  • Includes a discretionary Bereavement Benefit that pays out if your partner/spouse or child dies or becomes terminally ill.

British Friendly Policy Summary

Breathing Space Short Term Income Protection Long Term Income Protection
Who can apply? Most Occupations (See below for excluded occupations)
Do you need to prove your income? Not required at any stage Required at the claim stage
Selection of waiting periods 1, 4, 8 or 13 weeks Day 1 or 1, 4, 8, 13, 26 or 52 weeks
How much income can you insure? £125 - £288 per week without proving income Up to 70% of the first £65,000 income before tax and 45% of income between £65,000 and £100,000
How long will the benefit keep paying? 1, 2 or 5 year options Until retirement
A claim is paid if you can't do: Your own occupation
Does the monthly cost increase? Yes, with your age each year and if you choose to index-link your benefit, the benefit and cost increase.
Inflation proofing included? Option to index-link to RPI up to a maximum of 10%. Benefit and premium will increase.
Discretionary Benefits Included See below for full details of British Friendly's discretionary benefits
Minimum age at entry 18 18 18
Maximum age at entry 59 64 64
Minimum term 5 years
To what age can you be insured? Age 50-70
Changes possible during policy life Monthly benefit can be increased or decreased; waiting time can be changed; retirement age can be changed; career break can be applied.
Cashback Offer

Up to £100 cashback on income protection insurance

Our partner LifeSearch will help you get the best and cheapest income protection.

  • Search the market and all the leading insurers
  • Free advice with no obligation to purchase
  • Up to £100 cashback for new customers

Get Advice Now*

British Friendly Protect Teacher and NHS Sick Pay Protection

This specific type of income protection plan with British Friendly protects employees who receive teachers' or NHS sick pay and is designed to complement the sick pay that you can expect to receive in these occupations. You can qualify for Protect Sick Pay Protection if you are a Dentist, Doctor, Midwife, Nurse, Surgeon or Teacher. The cover assumes a waiting period of 52 weeks, making the insurance very cost-effective but will pay in concurrence with your sick pay period which may be tiered when you begin in your particular profession.

Sick pay periods usually increase with length of service for teachers and NHS workers and the British Friendly Protect Sick Pay policy allows you to assume the longest period of 52 weeks while ensuring that the policy pays you after a shorter sick pay period if you are early in your career. It also means that you need not amend your policy or arrange new cover every time your sick pay increases during the early years of your career.

British Friendly's Discretionary Benefits

Discretionary benefits, whilst extremely valuable, are included at the discretion of the company and can be removed from the policy. The following are some very relevant and generous benefits that are included with British Friendly's insurance at no extra cost. There is a package of mutual benefits that are categorised as Mutual Support, Mutual Rewards, Mutual Wellbeing and Mutual Partners.

British Friendly Mutual Support benefits

Carer Assistance Benefit

  • Payable if your partner/spouse, child or parent/parent-in-law requires at least 35 hours of care per week.
  • The benefit can be claimed after your family member has been in need of care for 4 weeks but the payment is backdated to the first day that care was needed.
  • Pays out £125 per week for up to 26 weeks if you're caring for a partner/spouse or child and for up to 13 weeks for a parent/parent-in-law even if you haven't stopped working to provide care.
  • A benefit equal to 13 weeks of the sum you are insured for is available if your partner/spouse or child either dies or is diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Death/Terminal Illness Benefit

  • Payable if the person insured dies or is diagnosed with a terminal illness within the term of their policy.
  • Pays out 6 times the monthly benefit that you are insured for.
  • Excludes suicide in the first 12 months after starting a policy

Bereavement Benefit

  • A benefit equal to 13 weeks of the sum you are insured for is available if your partner/spouse or child either dies or is diagnosed with a terminal illness.

British Friendly Mutual Rewards benefits

  • Access to discounted gift cards and e-vouchers for high street shops
  • Free entry to quarterly prize draws to win £1,000

British Friendly Mutual Wellbeing benefits

  • Up to 35% off Fitbit devices
  • Access to Health MOTs
  • Access to healthy living tips and resources

British Friendly Mutual Partners benefits

  • Online Wills and Power of attorneys through Legal for Life
  • Health cash plans
  • Discounted travel insurance through Staysure

Important Tip - British Friendly does not offer fixed cost Income Protection insurance and so the premiums increase as you get older. You should consider whether a fixed cost policy (with an alternative insurance company) is more suitable for you. While it is more expensive at outset, you'll have the peace of mind that you're covered for years to come without the worry of whether you can afford the policy further down the line.

How much does British Friendly Income Protection cost?

Earlier in the article, we highlighted the appeal of British Friendly's Income Protection policies for people who have more manual jobs and the following costs will demonstrate this.

The cost table below looks at an example policy that will:

  • Pay after you've been off work for 13 weeks (this ties in with the general guidance to save 3 months of outgoings)
  • Pay the benefit for up to 12 months of incapacity
  • Provide insurance up to the age of 65, regardless of how many claims you make

You can see that the cost of Income Protection insurance for a builder with British Friendly is significantly less when compared to the cheapest competitor. Conversely, the cost of Income Protection insurance for an Office Worker with British Friendly is more expensive. This is because British Friendly specialise in providing affordable Income Protection cover for more manual occupations. It would be best if you kept in mind that the British Friendly cost is one that increases with your age so it will go up every year but the increases are guaranteed so you'll be shown these from the outset.

Cost of Income Protection for a person aged 35 non-smoker - BUILDER

Monthly Benefit Payable  British Friendly (Monthly Age Increasing Cost) 
Cheapest Competitor (Monthly Fixed Cost)
£1,500 £12.76 £18.47
£2,500 £19.48 £30.89

Quotes are based on a 13-week deferred period and benefits are payable for up to 12 months and correct as of May 2022

Cost of Income Protection for a person aged 35 non-smoker - OFFICE WORKER

Monthly Benefit Payable  British Friendly (Monthly Age Increasing Cost)  Cheapest Competitor (Monthly Fixed Cost)
£1,500 £12.76 £9.06
£2,500 £19.48 £12.32

Quotes are based on a 13-week deferred period and benefits are payable for up to 12 months and correct as of May 2022

Which occupations does British Friendly exclude?

Having reviewed many other insurance providers, British Friendly covers a reasonable cross-section of occupations. We listed some of the occupations that British Friendly income protection will not cover and you can also read "British Friendly Occupation Guide" to check whether you can be covered in your current occupation. If your occupation isn't listed below then you'll most likely be able to get cover with British Friendly. Remember, if you're not sure what category your occupation falls into, you should speak to a specialist insurance adviser who will be able to work this out for you so that you can be certain that the policy will pay out if you ever need to claim.

Occupations not insurable with British Friendly for Income Protection include:

  • Fire-fighters & reserved or retained Fire-fighters
  • Handling Explosives
  • Merchant Navy
  • Divers
  • Underground Miners
  • Oil Rig Workers
  • Professional / Semi-Professional Sports Person
  • Nightclub Security Personnel / Bodyguards
  • Equestrian Professions
  • Police Officers, Police Community, Support Officers & Special Constables
  • Armed Forces Personnel & Members of a Military Reserve Force
  • Pilots, Test Pilot, Airline Pilot, Commercial Pilot, Helicopter Pilot - Onshore & Crop Sprayer Pilot

British Friendly reviews

British Friendly is deemed 'Great' by the customer review website, Trustpilot where it has been awarded 4.2 out of 5 stars based on nearly 200 customer reviews. Nearly 80% of the customer reviews of British Friendly gave it 5 stars deeming it excellent with around 20% awarding it 1 star. The 5 star reviews of British Friendly reflect good customer service experience as well as a supportive claims experience while some of the 1-star reviews cite a poor claims experience that has involved delays and non-payment. Some poor reviews that point to declined claims include information about non-disclosure of facts during the application stage that lead to the decision to decline. However, it is worth noting that almost all income protection providers would deny a claim if you did not disclose all material facts that you were asked about at the application stage.

Is British Friendly any good?

British Friendly is an excellent provider of income protection insurance for people with certain high risk occupations as well as workers who cannot prove their income readily. British Friendly's claims record is very good with over 94% of claims paid over the last 17 years and a benefits bundle that policyholders can access even when they are not claiming. To be sure that British Friendly is the best income protection provider for your personal circumstances, speak to a specialist income protection adviser* to compare prices and policy benefits.

How to buy British Friendly Income Protection insurance

Like many other insurance products, there will be options and types that suit you and your circumstances better than others. When looking for Income Protection insurance, your work, your income and your health will have a significant bearing on deciding which insurance will give you the best cover and price. It can be very difficult to make these choices online and unfortunately, some of the technical language might be difficult to understand, so speaking to a specialist Income Protection adviser will help you.

An adviser can run a search of the whole market and select the best price and the best policy for you. We have personally vetted the services of a specialist Income Protection insurance broker that can provide tailored advice. The advisers understand the variety of policies available very well and they're trained to ask you all the right questions so you don't have to worry that you may have forgotten something. Arranging a call to discuss this in detail before making your decision is easy. Fill out this form and an income protection adviser will call you back to discuss. Additionally, you will receive up to £100 cashback as a Money to the Masses reader for arranging your policy.


If a link has an * beside it this means that it is an affiliated link. If you go via the link, Money to the Masses may receive a small fee which helps keep Money to the Masses free to use. This link can be used if you do not wish to help Money to the Masses and do not wish to qualify for the cashback referred to in the article