The survey, polling over 2,000 UK adults, found that just 6% rated critical illness and income protection as the most important product from a list including mobile phone insurance, appliance cover, pet insurance and private medical insurance.
Three in 10 felt that none of the insurance products listed were of importance to them.
Peter Le Beau, co-chairman of The Protection Review, said: “One of the most frustrating things for industry insiders is when the British public reject a need which we can perceive very clearly.
“This tends to make us concerned that they are putting their world at risk. In truth, we are failing to get our message across by not engaging enough people in an effective way.”
Consumer perception of protection costs also seems low, as 18-24 year olds on average believed life cover costs £66.
For someone aged 18-24 taking out £150,000 of life cover over 25 years the average premium would be under £10 a month.
Some 41% felt that price is the most important factor when buying protection rather than having easy to understand information or receiving professional advice to make a decision, which 19% and 11% prioritised respectively.
Over half of people meanwhile said they researched protection cover on the internet as their primary source of information.
Kirsteen Grant, marketing & communications manager at Hannover Re UK Life Branch, said: “It is perhaps not too surprising that in such a material world it is difficult to get people to focus on buying something that they hope never results in a payout.
“It is perhaps too simplistic to call insurance a ‘grudge purchase’, although undoubtedly for many people it is.”