Critical illness cover

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Critical illness cover and Coronavirus

Coronavirus is not considered a critical illness, so it won’t be covered. If you were to develop a secondary illness, that was considered critical, you would be.

If you have life insurance as part of your cover, and the worst were to happen because of Coronavirus, you would be covered.

For new policies, you’ll be asked more questions by insurers about where you’ve travelled abroad recently, and about any pre-existing symptoms or confirmed but recovered cases of Coronavirus.

More about insurance, your money and Coronavirus >

What is critical illness cover?

Critical illness cover is a type of life insurance that pays out a tax-free lump sum if you’re diagnosed with a condition that’s listed on your policy.

If you get an illness that’s not on the list, you won’t receive the money.

Your provider will have a specific list of illnesses that are covered. If you’re diagnosed with any of these conditions, your critical illness cover will usually pay out.

It can either be added to your life insurance policy for a little extra cost to your premium, or bought as an independent policy.

Compare critical illness quotes and find the right cover for you

How to buy critical illness cover

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

  1. How much life insurance cover you’d like

  2. Whether you want your critical illness to be part of your life insurance, or as a separate policy

  3. How much cover for critical illness you’d like

  4. Your details, like your date of birth

  5. Whether you smoke or not

Integrated critical illness cover

An integrated critical illness policy is combined with your life insurance to form one policy.

This can be cost-effective, but it will still cost significantly more than life insurance on its own.

A combined life and critical illness policy will only pay out once, if you’re diagnosed with a qualifying condition or when you die.

Independent critical illness cover

A standalone critical illness policy allows you to specify the amount of cover you want without affecting the amount of life insurance cover that you choose.

If a successful claim is made on the critical illness cover, that cover will end but you can still claim on your life insurance.

Alternatives to critical illness cover

Income protection pays out if you’re too ill to work (either short or long-term).

Critical illness pays out a set amount, not related to your income, when you’re diagnosed.

Income protection policies will pay a monthly amount that’s calculated based on your income and expenditure so you can continue to pay your bills and debts when you can’t work.

You may have to wait for a set time before you start getting the payments and they’ll usually continue until you’re back at work, when you retire, or when the policy expires.

If you changed jobs, you’d need to tell your income protection provider.

It’s important to balance a useful amount of cover with an affordable plan. When searching for the right policy, you should compare a range of policies to find one that suits you

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Who needs critical illness cover?

Anyone can be diagnosed with a critical condition and it can have a huge impact on daily life, for example, preventing you from working.

Just check you’re not already covered under an existing life insurance policy, or as part of your work’s employee benefits.

Some critical illness policies now include cover for your children if they’re diagnosed with a listed serious condition. It could be offered as part of your policy at no additional cost.

When to get critical illness cover

You might want to consider critical illness cover if:

  • You don’t have enough savings to cover your mortgage should you become unable to work
  • Your employer doesn’t offer any benefits that cover long-term illness
  • State benefits aren’t enough to cover your income
  • You have no dependants, as critical illness cover pays out a lump sum if you become ill, rather than paying out to a dependant

Saving on critical illness cover premiums

Here are a few ways you can reduce the cost of your critical illness cover:

  1. Adopt a healthier lifestyle

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

  2. Consider an integrated policy

    Buying cover as an integrated policy with life insurance can keep costs low, but if a critical illness claim is made, the insurer won’t then pay out a life claim

  3. Compare your options

    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

Frequently asked questions

  • How long does a critical illness policy last?

    If you take out critical illness cover as an integrated policy, it will last as long as the term of your life insurance policy. Remember that if you make a critical illness claim on an integrated policy, the policy will only pay out once.

  • Do critical illness policies differ by provider?

    No, the type of illnesses covered by different insurers and policies can differ. You may also find that some insurers will pay out for less severe illnesses where others won’t.

  • What’s the difference between critical illness cover and terminal illness cover.

    Critical illness cover will pay out for a non-life threatening illness, whereas for terminal illness cover, you will need to prove that you're not expected to live longer than 12 months. Check your life insurance policy though as some policies will cover your for terminal illness.

  • Do I also need income protection?

    This is dependent on your circumstances, but the right income protection (IP) policy can be valuable as a stand-alone product or as an addition to life insurance/critical illness cover. Life insurance won’t cover you if you cannot work due to illness or disability. Some IP policies include an element of death cover.

  • What happens if I don’t pay my premiums?

    Generally if you miss a payment your critical illness cover will come to an end after thirty days - but check your policy wording, and make sure you can afford your monthly payments.

  • Can anyone get critical illness cover?

    In order to be eligible for critical illness cover you need to be a UK resident wen you apply, you may also find that there are maximum and minimum age limits.

  • Are critical illness payments taxed?

    No, if you make a successful claim on your critical illness policy, you will receive a one-off, tax-free lump sum.

  • Are all illnesses covered?

    No your policy will have a detailed list of illnesses that are covered for, and there are some types of illness that are not covered unless you have permanent symptoms from the illness so make sure you know what you’re covered for before you buy your policy.

  • What happens if you separate or one partner dies and you have a joint policy?

    Check with your insurer, but many providers will offer to split your policy if you separate but have a joint life or critical illness policy. If you’re on a joint policy and one partner

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[1]For comparing quotes online, introduces customers to For help, guidance and advice,, introduces customers to Assured Futures Limited. Assured Futures Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority no. 176392

[2]Your cover will depend on your individual needs, circumstances and the premium you choose to pay

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