A survey by LV= highlights that more than one in ten of the self employed would not be able to last any time without using long-term savings.
Almost a third (30%) would run out of money in less than a month, whilst almost half (48%) said they would be unable to turn to friends or family for financial support.
An additional one in ten said they would be forced to turn to credit cards or payday loans.
This comes as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the number of self-employed workers in the UK increased from 3.3 million in 2001 to nearly five million in 2019.
Whilst a quarter (25%) of those surveyed said they would seek help from the state, benefits provide little or no support for this group.
More than half (55%) have no life insurance, private medical insurance, critical illness cover or income protection should they find themselves unable to work due to illness or injury.
Nearly half of those surveyed (45%) worry that sickness will prevent them working.
The survey also revealed that 37% worry about consistency of earnings, whilst over a third (35%) of those workers who took time off for illness or injury last year returned to work before they felt they had fully recovered.
Half (50%) of these said they did so because they couldn’t afford to take any more time off work.
Justin Harper, head of protection marketing at LV=, said: “The world of work has changed enormously over the past 20 years.
“Being self-employed, freelance or working on a contract basis has become the norm for all sorts of professions from barristers to boat masters.
“Although it has many benefits, working for yourself means that the responsibility for providing a financial safety net shifts from the employer to the individual.
“People in full-time employment commonly receive sick pay and life insurance through their employer but self-employed people need to provide it for themselves.
“Although many self-employed people and contractors worry about the consequences of an accident or illness preventing them from working, too few are taking steps to protect themselves from any loss of earnings if they are unable to work.
“Many wrongly believe they would not be eligible for income protection but consulting a financial adviser will help them find a policy that best meets their needs.”