How we live now - Aviva takes a peek into the 'average' home

Article date: 12 August 2015

But Only One In Three Protect The Roofs Over Their Heads

  • Aviva analysis provides a snapshot of the typical British family
  • Most common home is a 1930s semi-detached property called ‘The Cottage’
  • Families are failing to protect their homes, possessions and income with appropriate insurance
  • 11.7 million households are financially vulnerable to loss of earnings, and almost £140bn of household possessions

Are you living in a 1930s semi called The Cottage? If so, you’re the epitome of the typical British family, Aviva reveals in its latest Family Finances Report.

Figures from Aviva’s database show the typical British family home is a three-bedroom semi-detached house with one bathroom, built in the 1930s and owned with a mortgage. That mortgage is likely to be in the name of David and Susan – British families’ most common names – and the car most likely to be parked in the average family’s driveway is a Ford Focus.

British families also gradually accumulate more expensive possessions over their lifetime. For example, under-25s have £18,834 worth of items covered by their contents insurance. By the time they have reached the age of 45, this rises to £39,167. The average family has household contents worth £35,486 (see table two).

Homes and family finances go unprotected
Our love affair with our homes is clear and almost a third (28%) of families say they feel emotionally attached to their home and 55% want to make improvements to their homes. Yet despite this, Aviva’s Family Finances Report shows that millions of families are potentially failing to protect the roofs over their heads as they don’t have adequate insurance in place in the event of a loss of income.

While over a third (35%) of families have life insurance in place, offering financial protection if an income earner should die, fewer families have critical illness cover (11%) and just 8% have income protection to cover their salary should they become ill or injured and unable to work, equivalent to around 11.7 million unprotected households. This is a serious consideration, given that whether families are paying a mortgage or renting, this cost needs to be covered.

In addition, the report shows that 31% of families have no contents insurance in place. Across England alone, this equates to more than 3.9m households and means as much as £139.6bn worth of possessions are unprotected and therefore at risk of theft or damage.*

Table 1: Families vulnerable to loss of income

Proportion of families without the following types of cover No. of uninsured households*
Income protection – 92% 11.7 million
Critical illness cover – 89% 11.3 million
Life insurance - 65% 8.2 million

With the average family having to spend £505 each month on housing (rent or mortgage repayments), by failing to protect their incomes, families are at risk of losing not just their financial security, but also potentially putting the family home in jeopardy. 

Louise Colley, managing director, protection at Aviva, comments:

“Whether it’s the average 1930s semi, or something else entirely, Aviva’s research confirms that British families have an emotional attachment to their homes. They also own over £30,000 worth of belongings, with the value accumulating over their lifetime.

“However, a significant proportion are failing to keep not just their homes and valued possessions protected, but also themselves. Not having appropriate insurance leaves families at risk of falling into debt – or worse, losing their homes – should the main breadwinner become unable to work. We’d urge every family to check their financial foundations to assure themselves they are secure and protected against all eventualities.”

Table 2: A snapshot of Britain’s average family

Britain’s average family Overall
Man’s name David
Woman's name Susan
Type of house Semi-detached house
Average number of people living in home 2.7
Average waking hours spent there on a weekday 8.1
Contents worth £35,486
Buildings insured for £177,790
Number of bedrooms 3
Number of bathrooms 1
Most wanted home improvement New kitchen
Home built in 1930
Financed with A mortgage
Average car Ford Focus
Likelihood of being a smoker 8%
Most common house name The Cottage

Download the full Aviva Family Finances Report PDF (4.4MB)
View the Animation

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*According to the English Housing Survey (2013/14), there are 12,689,000 households across the 16-54 age brackets.

If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact: 

Instinctif Partners: Andy Lane or Rachel Morrod: 0207 427 1400 : 07815 540 932 : 07815 541 791 :

Aviva Press Office: Sarah Poulter: 01904 452828 : 07800 691569 :  

Notes to editors

The Family Finances Report is designed and produced by Aviva in consultation with ICM Research. The report is an in-depth study into the financial needs of the 84% of the UK population who live as part of a modern family. Based on customer profiles and Government data Aviva has recognised the six most common types of modern family as:

- Living in a committed relationship with no plans to have children
- Living in a committed relationship with plans to have children
- Living in a committed relationship with one child
- Living in a committed relationship with two or more children
- Divorced/separated/widowed with one or more child
- Single parent raising one or more child alone

Unless otherwise specified, data was sourced from the Aviva Family Index which used findings from over 26,000 people who are members of one of the six groups of families identified above via ICM research. This report is a definitive look at the personal finances of families in the UK. Not only does it look at personal wealth, income sources and expenditure patterns but also tracks how these change across the different types of family unit. Due to a change in research methodology, some median values from previous reports have been re-calibrated in this edition to allow direct comparisons with previous years.

This edition also includes analysis using figures from Aviva’s own customer database.
Technical note

• A median is described as the numeric value separating the upper half of a sample, a population, or a probability distribution, from the lower half. Thus for this report, the median is the person who is the utter middle of a sample. All figures in this release are medians unless otherwise specified and are referred to as ‘typical’ rather than ‘average’ (mean).

• A mean is a single value that is meant to typify a list of values. This is derived by adding all the values on a list together and then dividing by the number of items on said list. This can be skewed by particularly high or low values.

About Aviva

Aviva provides life insurance, general insurance, health insurance and asset management to 34* million customers, across 16 markets worldwide

  • In the UK we are the leading insurer serving one in every four households and have strong businesses in selected markets in Europe, Asia and Canada. Our shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange and we are a member of the FTSE100 index.  
  • Aviva’s asset management business, Aviva Investors, provides asset management services to both Aviva and external clients, and currently manages over £245 billion in assets.
  • Aviva helps people save for the future and manage the risks of everyday life; we paid out £24.6 billion in benefits and claims in 2014.
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* Before the deduction of overlapping customers.

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