Critical illness poses a serious threat to 401(k) assets.[@@]

Researchers at a unit of MetLife Inc., New York, have published data supporting that conclusion in a report on a recent survey of 1,004 U.S. adults.

Only 43% of the participants reported having individual or group disability insurance, and 59% said they had less than $5,000 in personal savings.

Researchers also asked survey participants what they would do if they needed $10,000 to $35,000 to cope with a major illness.

About 26% said they had no idea where they would get the money, and 21% said they would tap home equity.

Another 27% said they would have to cash in investments in stocks, mutual funds and bonds, and 25% said they would cash in retirement savings accounts, such as 401(k) accounts or individual retirement accounts.