Around 71% of people in the UK have at least one life insurance policy, compared with 45% of people in Italy and 53% in both Germany and Spain, according to Axa.
The insurer found that buying a home was the most common trigger leading to people in the UK taking out life cover at 41%, while 11% took out a policy after receiving financial advice.
But the research found that just 20% of Britons have income protection insurance to tide them through periods of ill health or unemployment, while only 40% have health or some form of disability insurance.
Among those who do not have a life insurance policy, 23% said they thought the cover was too expensive, 21% did not think they needed it, 11% said they were not worried about it yet and 10% admitted they had never thought about it.
Graham Harvey, managing director of protection at Axa, says: "While it is encouraging to see the majority of UK adults now have a life insurance policy, the reality is many people are still underinsured in key areas, particularly in the event of unemployment. It is particularly worrying to see how many people say they think protection insurance is either too expensive or that they don't need it and this underlines the educational job that is still required to ensure more UK adults view adequate protection as a key part of their long term financial planning."
Life insurance: News update: January 2008