Nearly three-quarters of UK adults have no life insurance, income protection or critical illness cover should the main earner in their household suddenly become unable to work.
That is according to new research by insurance firm Aegon, which estimates that there are more than 36 million Brits without a safety net to fall back on in the event of a financial shock.
It was also found that two-thirds of these people would never even think about buying a protection policy, with almost half of adults saying they would instead rely on savings.
This is despite The Money Charity estimating that more than one-third of UK households have no savings at all, and that a further one in ten have less than £1,500.
"Far too many people in the UK are putting themselves and their families at unnecessary risk," Aegon head of underwriting and claims, Simon Jacobs, said.
"Across the UK, people insure their homes, pets and their mobiles, but overlook the vital component that funds all of their day-to-day spending - themselves."
Life insurance, income protection and critical illness allows people to keep up with their day-to-day expenses should the main earner in a house die or fall seriously ill.
The Aegon research found that almost a quarter of Brits think they have enough savings to get by on without protection, while a fifth think taking out a policy is too expensive.
Another fifth said they don't need it because they don't have any dependants, although one-tenth admitted they wouldn't know how to cope should the main earner stop work for six months.
Jacobs said that there was a need for the insurance industry to raise awareness of the importance of getting protection, highlighting how this can cost as little as £5 a month.
"A little protection insurance is better than none at all," he continued. "There's a clear need for the industry to get this message across to more people.
"Providers and advisers need to work together to make sure that people have a lifetime of financial security and don't get a nasty shock at the worst possible time."