Norwich Union reveals the nation's top regrets

Article date: 17 July 2007

Frank Sinatra had a few, Robbie Williams had none, but according to new research from Norwich Union, four out of five Brits (82%) are riddled with regrets, lamenting everything from not taking a job offer to not taking up dancing!

A survey from the UK's largest insurer revealed not learning to play a musical instrument was the top regret afflicting one in eight people (13%). One in 10 individuals (11%) most regretted not going to university, whilst 9% wished they'd followed a different career path. A roguish 4% owned up to regrets over relationships, usually after having had an affair.

The research was carried out to support a new Norwich Union marketing campaign which informs people of the importance of taking out life insurance - and to avoid letting it be something they regret not doing.

The insurer's research reveals the following five biggest regrets:

  1. Not learning to play a musical instrument (13%)
  2. Not going to university (11%)
  3. Not following a different career path (7%)
  4. Not paying more attention at school (6%)
  5. Being overweight/not taking better care of oneself (5%).

Further common regrets include not taking up a sport or hobby, and not travelling more widely.

Paul Stokes, head of marketing and communications for Norwich Union, says: "Although this research is fairly light-hearted, it underlines the fact that most people have at least one thing they regret - from something relatively minor to something potentially life-changing. Life insurance can give comfort at what is a very distressing time, so we are keen that it shouldn't be something people regret not taking out.

"Many people only think about life insurance when they take out a mortgage or have children, but it's something which can offer peace of mind to any person, whatever their circumstances. And given that Norwich Union offers cover from as little as £5* per month, it can be a very small price to avoid one big regret."

Life insurance statistics:

  • Research shows that 50% of the adult population of the UK have insufficient life cover.**
  • The life assurance protection gap in 2005 was £2.3 trillion. ***

Gender variations:

  • Women are four times more likely to regret not travelling the world than men (8% compared to 2%).
  • 16% of males wish they'd taken up a musical instrument, compared to 11% of females.
  • Women are more likely to wish they'd been to university (13% compared to 9%).


Norwich Union press office contacts:                     
Sarah Horner 01904 452828 Out of hours 07800 691569                     Louise Soulsby 01904 452617 Out of hours 07800 699526

Notes to editors:
Images from the marketing campaign are available on request.

The research was carried out in June 2007 by OMD Snapshots, via an online survey of 828 people.

* The cost of cover will depend on the level, term and type of cover selected, in addition to the customer's personal circumstances.

** Source - The Insurance Report

*** Info - The Gap being the difference between the amount of cover required and the  amount of liquid assets plus cover in force in the UK.

About Norwich Union
Norwich Union is one of the UK's biggest life insurers. It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.

Norwich Union has strategic alliances with building societies and other leading UK brand names including CIS and The Royal Bank of Scotland Group. Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at

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