Critical illness cover

Compare life insurance with critical illness cover quotes with Neilson[1]

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, like kidney or lung failure, 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.

Find out 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. You can use it however you like. Whether that's to help cover health-related costs, monthly expenses, or lost income while you get better.

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

It’s a lot like life insurance in that you choose how much cover you need and how long you want your policy to be in place for (the term). The main difference is critical illness cover pays out on diagnosis, whereas life insurance pays out if you pass away.

It can either be added to your  life insurance policy  for a little extra cost to your premium (integrated cover), or bought 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 more it’s costing you.

Critical illness cover: your options

  • Standalone cover

    You can either buy standalone cover on its own or with life insurance. When you buy it with life insurance, both bits of your cover pay out if you die. If you get a critical illness, your critical illness cover pays out and your life insurance continues.

  • Integrated with life insurance

    You can buy critical illness cover integrated with life insurance – usually it’s level term. With an integrated policy, you get a payout if you die or if you get a critical illness. There’s only one payout, so it tends to be a more affordable option.

  • Decreasing term

    With decreasing term cover, your payout decreases 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.

Compare critical illness quotes and find the right cover for you

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What illnesses are considered critical?

Each insurer will define what illnesses they cover, so it varies a little – what’s covered will be outlined in policy documents.

For your insurer to pay out, your illness also needs to be severe. 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:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Advanced cancers or tumours
  • Organ transplants
  • Coma
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Dementia and Parkinson’s
  • Permanent disability caused by illness or an injury

You can get pretty extensive cover, which includes a wide variety of conditions. Some policies will also cover your children if they’re diagnosed. But expect it to cost more. Read the policy documents carefully to get a good idea of what’s covered before you buy.

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

  • Family income benefit

    You might want to consider family income benefit. It's a cost-effective option that can cover your monthly income for a pre-set period of time.

    You choose how long you want to be covered for, say 20 years, and if you make a claim within that period your monthly income is covered for the remainder of the term your policy is in place for. 

    It can be a cheaper option than standard life insurance. 

  • Income protection

    Income protection pays out if you’re too ill to work (either short or long-term). It'll pay a monthly amount based on your income and expenditure so you can pay your bills and debts if 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.

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. How much cover for critical illness you’d like

  3. Your personal details, like your date of birth and occupation

  4. A bit about your lifestyle and medical history

How much is critical illness cover?

How much it costs very much depends on your personal circumstances. How old you are, whether you’re in good health or not and your lifestyle and occupation all make a difference to your premiums.

Generally speaking, the more cover you want, the more expensive it’ll be. So an extensive option, that doesn’t decrease the payout alongside your debts, will cost a lot more.

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 by 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 down

  3. Consider decreasing cover

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

  4. 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 bought through us, the life insurance sum paid out when you pass away will be reduced.

  • Do critical illness policies differ by provider?

    Yes, 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 when 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.

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[1]For comparing quotes online, introduces customers to Neilson. Which is a trading name of Neilson Financial Services Limited who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority no. 594926.'s relationship with Neilson Financial Services Limited is limited to that of a business partnership, no common ownership or control exist between us.

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

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