Critical illness cover

Compare life insurance with critical illness cover quotes with[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.

Compare critical illness quotes and find the right cover for you

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Integrated and independent cover: key differences

The main differences are:

  • Integrated tends to be a more cost-effective option than a standalone policy
  • With integrated cover, you’ll only get one pay out. But with a standalone policy, you can claim on your critical illness cover and still claim on your life insurance later (if you have it)
  • With a standalone policy, you can specify how much critical illness cover

You can't compare and buy critical illness cover through us as a standalone policy, but you can compare life insurance with critical illness cover included. 

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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Types of critical illness cover

Similarly to life insurance, there are two main types:

  • Decreasing term

    With decreasing term cover, your pay out decreases over time as the size of your mortgage, or other debts, decreases too. For that reason, it tends to be cheaper.

  • Level term

    Level term cover is arguably the simplest type, though it does tend to be more expensive than decreasing term. 

    That's because the pay out amount stays the same throughout the policy term, regardless of when a claim is made.

  • Joint Policy

    You could choose a joint policy with your partner, where the policy pays out if one of you becomes critically ill – this can be a cheaper option than you both having policies.

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 mothly 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.

Average price by age of decreasing term life insurance and critical illness cover 

AgeAverage monthly premium with critical illness cover
Under 30£48.41
30 – 39£74.23
40 – 49£109.46
50 – 59£123.48
60 – 69£195.94
70 – 79-

Premium prices based on quotes with in February 2020

Average price by age of level term life insurance and critical illness cover 

AgeAverage monthly premium with critical illness cover
Under 30£71.23
30 – 39£96.40
40 – 49£162.67
50 – 59£180.48
60 – 69£262.63
70 – 79-
Over 80-

Premium prices based on quotes with in February 2020

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. Consider a joint policy

    Usually premiums will work out cheaper than if you both buy separate policies two separate policies – but remember that the policy will only pay out once

  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, 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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