Critical illness cover


Critical illness cover image

What is critical illness cover?

Critical illness cover is a type of insurance designed to help protect against the financial impact that a serious illness could have on you and your family. 

It pays out a tax-free cash lump sum should you fall ill with a critical illness that’s listed on the policy, such as certain cancers, a heart attack or stroke. 

The money can help replace lost income if you can’t work because of your illness. You can use the money to pay for whatever you like. For instance, you might want to use it for household bills, loan or mortgage payments or health-related costs such as installing adaptive equipment in your home to help you cope with your illness, or even to pay for private healthcare treatment.

critical illness cover

How does it work?

You can take out critical illness cover alongside a life insurance policy (known as integrated cover) or on its own as an independent policy.

You pay a monthly or annual premium for the cover. If you buy it as part of your life insurance, the cost is included in your life insurance premiums, but you can see how much extra it’s costing you.

Your provider will have a specific list of illnesses that are covered. If you’re diagnosed with any of these conditions, your cover will pay out. If you get an illness that’s not on the list, you won’t receive the money.

Some critical illness policies include cover for your children if they’re diagnosed with a listed serious condition too. Or you may be able to pay more to include family cover on your policy.

Critical illness cover pays out its main benefit once, then the policy ends.

Who needs it?

It doesn’t matter who you are, or how old you are; anyone could fall ill with a critical illness at any time. If that illness leaves you unable to work, then having a back-up plan in place can at least help you cope with the financial side of things while you have treatment or recover from your illness.

So, you might want to consider critical illness cover if:

  • You don’t have enough savings to fall back on to cover your mortgage and regular outgoings if you’re too ill to work
  • Your employer doesn’t offer any benefits that cover long-term illness, or you’re self-employed
  • State benefits aren’t enough to cover your outgoings

Before buying a critical illness insurance policy, just check you’re not already covered under an existing life insurance policy such as mortgage payment protection cover.

How much is it?

The cost of your policy will depend on a few factors including:

The level of cover you opt for

When choosing the sum assured (how much you’d like to receive if you needed to claim), you’ll need to take into account all your outgoings. Include things like your mortgage or rent payments, loan repayments, childcare costs, monthly bills and so on. Consider any savings you could dip into, plus whether you're entitled to employee or state benefits, and you’ll have a clearer idea of the amount of cover you should choose. The larger the payout you opt for, the more expensive the premiums

Your personal details

  • Your age can affect how much your premiums will cost - the older you are the more expensive it could be
  • Your health, medical history, smoking status and any pre-existing conditions you have will affect your premiums
  • Your occupation - riskier jobs could mean getting charged more

Policy details

  • The length of your policy - You select the term (how long the policy will run for). It might be until you’ve paid off your mortgage or when your children are likely to leave home and be self-sufficient
  • The type of policy - Combining critical illness cover with a life insurance policy can work out cheaper
  • Level or decreasing cover - With level cover, the size of the payout remains the same over the term of the policy. But with decreasing cover, the sum assured falls, often in line with your mortgage or another long-term debt. This makes decreasing cover the cheaper option

Compare critical illness quotes and find the right cover for you

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What’s covered in a critical illness policy?

You can expect certain cancers, heart attacks, heart disease and strokes to be covered by all critical illness policies.

Policies could cover over 50 types of critical illnesses including permanent disabilities, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and organ failure.

You should check the providers policy documents to see what is covered.

What's not covered in a critical illness policy?

Not all conditions are covered in critical illness insurance policies.

And an illness might have to be particularly severe or leave you permanently impaired to qualify for a payout.

For example, some less advanced cancers which haven’t spread or reached a specific severity are likely to be excluded.

You may also only qualify for a payout if you’ve received certain medical treatment for the condition, as specified in the policy.

Pre-existing conditions and illnesses that arise as the result of a pre-existing condition might also be excluded. Plus, hereditary diseases, temporary illness, illness caused by drug or alcohol misuse, injury that’s self-inflicted or the result of taking part in a hazardous sport.

Check the terms and conditions of your policy carefully before deciding if it’s right for you.

Your critical illness cover options

You can compare life insurance and buy critical illness cover through us as a standalone policy or as an integrated policy.

We only offer critical illness cover with level term life insurance. It isn’t available to buy with decreasing term policies.

Standalone cover

You can buy critical illness as standalone cover, without life insurance attached to it.

It protects you against the financial impact of being diagnosed with a critical illness, but it won’t pay out if you pass away

Integrated with life insurance

You can buy critical illness cover integrated with life insurance. With an integrated policy, you get a payout if you die, have a terminal illness or if you’re diagnosed with a critical illness. In many cases, integrated cover isn’t usually much more expensive than standalone cover

Decreasing term or level term

With decreasing term life cover, your payout lowers over time as the size of your mortgage, or other debts, decreases too. For that reason, it tends to be cheaper. You can’t buy critical illness cover with decreasing term life insurance through us.

With level term cover, the size of the payout you’d receive remains the same over the term of the policy

What illnesses are considered critical?

Each insurer will list the illnesses it covers in the policy documents. This’ll vary between insurers, so be sure to check.

For your insurer to pay out, your illness also needs to be of a certain degree of severity. Again, your policy documents should explain how severe an illness needs to be for the insurer to pay out.

Common conditions included in critical illness cover are:

  • Strokes
  • Heart attack
  • Advanced cancers or tumours
  • Organ transplants
  • Comas
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Dementia and Parkinson’s disease
  • Permanent disability caused by illness or injury

Whether you’re buying an integrated or independent policy, it’s a good idea to shop around and compare prices to find the right policy for you

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Alternatives to critical illness cover

These other types of cover can also provide financial payouts if you fall ill:

Income protection insurance (IP)

If you can’t work because of illness or injury, this type of policy will pay you a monthly income. The amount you receive will either be a fixed monthly amount or will cover a percentage of your gross annual salary (normally up to about 70%). You can buy long-term or short-term IP policies

Payment protection insurance (PPI)

This type of cover covers your monthly repayments on a single debt - like a mortgage, credit card or personal loan - if you have an illness or accident that leaves you unable to work

Loan protection insurance

In a similar way, this form of IP is designed to cover loan repayments. But, unlike PPI, it’s not tied to one particular debt. You can use the monthly payments to pay off any debt you choose, whether it’s your mortgage or credit card repayments. The amount of cover can usually be up to 70% of your gross annual income and payouts will normally be tax free

Mortgage payment protection insurance (MPPI)

MPPI covers the cost of your mortgage payments if you find yourself unable to work due to accident or illness. Most MPPI plans will pay out for a maximum of 12 months, though there are a few that will cover payments for 24 months

How to buy critical illness cover

To apply for critical illness cover, you’ll need to tell us:

  • How much life insurance cover you’d like
  • How much cover you need for critical illness
  • Your personal details, including your date of birth and occupation
  • Information about your lifestyle and medical history

How can I save money on my critical illness cover premiums?

Adopt a healthier lifestyle

Give up smoking, exercise regularly, achieve a healthy weight and eat well

Look at integrated policies

Buying cover as an integrated policy with life insurance can keep costs down

Consider decreasing cover

As the amount of cover you have decreases over time, it can be a more affordable option

Compare your options

Whether you’re buying an integrated or standalone policy, it’s a good idea to shop around and compare prices to find the right policy for you

[1]For comparing quotes online, Go.Compare introduces customers to Reassured which is a trading name of Reassured Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority no. 616144. Go.Compare's relationship with Reassured Ltd is limited to that of a business partnership, no common ownership or control exist between us.