Most Europeans don’t have enough disability insurance to cover the financial shock of a sudden disability or critical illness, according to a Swiss Re study.

Swiss Re’s European Insurance Report 2015 found that people in the 13 countries surveyed for the report would currently struggle to secure 40% income replacement in case of disability. This amounts to a total shortfall in required disability insurance of around €750bn ($835.8bn)

The report was based on a survey of 13,000 people across 13 countries in Europe and the Middle East.

Assuming that people would need a 60% replacement income if unable to work because of illness or injury, the report said at current levels replacement income would barely cover 40% for most people.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Bruce Hodkinson, Swiss Re’s European head of life and health reinsurance, said: "Although people in the survey were aware of the potential shock that a sudden disability or illness could have for them financially, there are still many people without enough protection and who are reliant on state welfare."

He added: "However, states are reducing their welfare systems as ageing populations and increasing medical costs put pressure on their budgets. The insurance industry has the task to enable the shift from state provision to individual responsibility."

Jean-Jacques Henchoz, Swiss Re’s CEO reinsurance EMEA, said: "It’s not enough to understand the economic arguments for providing health protection. People don’t buy on a one-size-fits-all basis throughout their lives but will want different levels of cover and have different concerns as they move through their lives. Our job as the re/insurers is to ensure that we are meeting their needs."