Furthermore, 14 per cent of respondents said this had happened to them more than once.
The study of 2,000 homeowners and buyers revealed a third had to take four weeks or more off work to recover from an illness or accident. As a result, 47 per cent said they needed financial support to meet their mortgage repayments.
When it came to medical care, 61 per cent of respondents had taken four weeks or more off work to look after themselves while a fifth took time off to care for a partner. A fifth took leave to care for a family member while 17 per cent did the same to look after their children.
Lack of protection
Nearly half the respondents had no mortgage financial protection in place despite 43 per cent saying they were worried about making repayments if they had a drop in income.
Some 14 per cent regretted not taking out mortgage protection and two-fifths said they had no savings to fall back on if illness or an accident caused them to take time off work.
Rich Horner, head of individual protection at MetLife, said: “Despite a challenging economic outlook, 2020 saw many people turn their dream of homeownership into a reality. The stamp duty holiday extension announced in the budget, coupled with the government guarantee on mortgages, means the number of homeowners is set to rise even higher.
“But, as ‘Generation Rent’ becomes ‘Generation Buy’, there is an increased need for financial protection and advisers have an invaluable role to play in providing impartial advice and identifying protection gaps.
He added: “Our research found that more than half of homeowners, and those buying a home, claimed to have mortgage protection in place, a much higher figure than the industry average.
“This raises an interesting question around what constitutes mortgage protection and suggests more needs to be done to enhance understanding and awareness of what financial protection is available, and what is best suited to meet their needs. And as providers, we all have a role to play in that.”