Critical illness cover

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

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We want to help you better protect what’s important – and that includes your mental health.

We’ll give you Healthy Minds and Wellbeing cover provided by Bupa, free for 12 months when you buy life insurance through us.

You’ll be able to access counselling, online support and 24/7 health advice, for the help you need, whenever you need it.

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* All customers living in the UK and over the age of 18 are eligible. T&Cs and limits apply. 

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Critical illness cover and coronavirus

Covid-19 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 Covid-19.

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 life insurance 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.

What does critical illness insurance cover?

You need to understand what your critical illness policy covers. Not all policies cover the exact same illnesses and injuries, but there are some core conditions that are covered by all policies.  

Your policy documents will explain what’s covered so make sure you’ve read and understood them before you buy your policy.

Covered Possibly covered Not covered
Most common critical illnesses Children’s critical illnesses Pre-agreed conditions
Types of cancer Multiple sclerosis Drug and alcohol abuse
Stroke Loss of limbs Hereditary diseases
Heart attack Blindness Temporary illnesses
Total permanent disability

Compare critical illness quotes and find the right cover for you

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Our life insurance providers

We search for quotes from over 10 life insurance providers including:[2]

  • AIG Life
  • Scottish Widows
  • Liverpool Victoria
  • HSBC Life
  • Canada Life
  • Aegon
  • Royal London
  • Beagle Street

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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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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