What is critical illness cover?
Critical illness cover (CIC) is usually sold as an add-on to your regular life insurance. It pays out when you are diagnosed with a serious illness, and cover costs you can no longer meet because you’re too ill to work or having treatment.
There are limits on what CIC policies cover. You can’t claim for a medical condition you’re already suffering from when you buy the policy, and insurers tend to have lists of illnesses they cover. These lists vary between insurers, so make sure you read the fine print before you buy.
What are the most common CIC claims?
Most life insurance providers will cover dozens of different conditions with their CIC policies, but there are some illnesses that come up again and again. According to Aegon, one of MoneySuperMarket’s life insurance partners, cancer is the most common reason to claim on a CIC policy.
According data collected by Aegon in 2019
- Cancer: Cancer is far and away the most common reason for people to claim on their critical illness cover. This is partly because it’s quite common, but partly because people tend to have it for a few years and treatment is lengthy and disruptive
- Heart attacks: Heart attacks can be fatal, but they’re often not. Even mild heart attacks require treatment and rehabilitation, and sufferers may have to leave work for a long time – or even for good
- Strokes: Strokes are often life-changing for survivors, who may end up incapacitated and in need of round-the-clock care. A CIC pay-out could be used to help pay for professional carers, either full-time or part-time, for instance
- Heart valve replacement: Heart surgery is famously invasive, and it takes a while for people to recover. So even though many people end up feeling better and more active in the long run, there is an inevitable period where working is out of the question
- Multiple sclerosis: MS is a degenerative disease, which means it gets worse over time. Many people can continue their lives more or less as normal at the outset, but sooner or later things get harder and they require more care. For others, symptoms can come and go, meaning work is impossible during a bad flare-up. CIC cover can be used to help the transition, or to provide for you when things are really tough
- Coronary artery bypass grafts: This is another operation which requires a long period of convalescence
- Children’s benefits: Many insurers allow parents of sick children to claim on their critical illness policies to cover time taken off work and care costs, with certain caveats. Your child should typically be under 18, or 21 in some cases, and you can’t claim for a condition they were born with. Some insurers limit how much you can claim if the policy was initially taken out to protect yourself, too
How much is critical illness cover?
Critical illness cover is usually taken out as an addition to a normal life insurance policy, for a small additional surcharge every month.
When you take out critical illness cover, it’s usually in one of two forms:
- Additional cover: If you take out life insurance with additional critical illness cover, there are two pay-outs: when you are diagnosed with a critical illness and when you pass away (both during the term of your policy)
- Combined cover: This only has one pay-out, either if you become critically ill or if you pass away (both during the term of your policy)
The actual cost is determined by a range of factors, including:
- Your age; the older you are the more expensive it will be
- Your general bill of health, including any conditions you currently have, and past illnesses
- Your job, and whether it is dangerous
- Your lifestyle, including how much you exercise and whether you smoke or drink
- How much cover you want should the worst happen if you die or get sick
Compare critical illness cover
The best way to find the right level of critical illness cover at a price that suits you is to compare life insurance policies with MoneySuperMarket. We’ll ask you a few questions on your health, lifestyle and circumstances, and come back with a range of policies for you to choose from. Be sure to specify that you want CIC included when prompted.