Most of us are happy to insure our cars, homes and knick-knacks but when it comes to our incomes it's not even on the radar.

Just one in five people said they had considered a loss of income because of illness or injury to be a risk, according to research carried out for the Financial Services Council - the industry body for New Zealand's life, health and income protection insurers.

That's despite two thirds of those surveyed saying they would have a moderate to high risk of major financial problems should they suffer a serious injury or be unable to work.

FSC chief executive Richard Klipin said Kiwis lived in a country where risks were top of mind - there were regular earthquakes and many lived on a volcanic field.

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"New Zealanders are risk aware. What they are not really good at doing is doing anything substantive about it."

More than 50 per cent of those surveyed said they disliked having to think about the impact of financial risk and when they do think about it 43 per cent said they then promptly forgot about it.

Klipin said many Kiwis just seemed to be putting it in the too-hard basket.

"The research indicates that a stigma still remains in New Zealand around discussing, managing and engaging with financial risk.

"Adding to this high stakes gamble, the research also found that two thirds of New Zealanders don't have sufficient savings to cover an unexpected short-term loss of income."

Kiwis know about risk - but few do anything about it. Photo / Supplied
Kiwis know about risk - but few do anything about it. Photo / Supplied

Just over half (54 per cent) said it was important to have the right amount of insurance cover although 13 per cent disagreed with that and half of those believed in "self-insuring" rather than using a private insurance provider.

Affordability was the biggest barrier to getting insurance, followed by having other priorities and believing it was not good value for money.

Klipin said that sent a clear message to the industry of the need to make insurance relevant and to have the "value conversation".

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He compared it to people's aspirations to buy a flash house in Remuera and questioned whether the price of the house should come down or if people needed to adjust their expectations by looking in another suburbs.

But he said the industry did need to consider issues like pricing and different product types to suit different markets as well as the potential for digital advice models.

Klipin said buying life and income insurance was very life-stage driven as people took on more debt, had a family, or made a major life decision.

He said people needed to think about where managing risk fit into their household budget.

"It is worrying that many of us spend more time worrying about protecting our car than our life, family or source of income and that we are still very reliant on family and friends to help us out.

"We need to drive an honest conversation about improving the way we think about and manage these risks."

How to reduce your financial risks
• Identify how much money you might need to cover you and your family should the worst happen
• Understand how much risk you are willing to take, and protect yourself for the rest
• Aim to save enough to cover three months' pay or income
• Life changes, so review your cover and risk regularly to make sure you are adequately covered
• If in doubt, ask questions and seek advice from an adviser or your provider

- Source: Financial Services Council