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Critical Illness Cover

Helping to protect you and the ones you love

Life insurance and critical illness insurance

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What is critical illness insurance?

Critical illness cover is a form of insurance that pays out a tax-free lump sum if you’re diagnosed with an insured medical condition during the term of your policy. It’s not the same as life insurance, which pays money to a person or people you name if you pass away.

You can spend the money how you wish, so you can use it to clear debts, pay medical bills or adapt your home to your particular needs.

Is critical illness cover separate to life insurance?

Most insurers offer critical illness cover as an extra you add to a life insurance policy, while some also include it as standard. You may also be able to find standalone critical illness cover, but it isn’t as common.

life insurance illustration

What conditions are covered by critical illness cover?

The specific conditions covered by a critical illness policy will depend on the type of cover you take out and what your insurer offers, but certain core conditions are always included. The most comprehensive policies can often cover between about 40 and 50 conditions – so always read the terms of the policy before you take it out.

  • List Icon

    Core conditions

    Heart attacks, strokes, some types of cancer

  • List Icon

    Sometimes covered

    Multiple sclerosis, alzheimer’s, deafness, blindness, loss of limbs, organ failures, permanent disabilities, traumatic head injuries, parkinson’s

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    Not covered

    Pre-existing conditions, hereditary illnesses, temporary illnesses

What type of critical illness cover do I need?

If you take out critical illness cover on top of a normal life insurance policy, you’ll be able to choose from the following options:

Additional cover

This means you’re insured for a payout both when you pass away and if you’re diagnosed with a critical illness

Combined cover

Pays out once, either when you pass awayor are diagnosed. MoneySuperMarket does not list combined policies

Joint cover

One policy covered two people in a couple. These usually only pay out once, to whoever dies or falls ill first

what type of critical illness cover do i need

How much does critical illness cover cost?

Around a quarter of all people who take out life insurance with MoneySuperMarket opt to add critical illness cover to their policy. The average cost varies according to your age group, with prices rising as you get older.

Age Group

Monthly cost of level term life insurance policy for single policy*

Monthly cost of level term life insurance policy plus critical illness cover*

18-29

£5.80

£10.13

30-39

£7.93 

£14.97

40-49

 £13.12

£26.23

50-59

 £24.56

£47.22

60+

£44.80 

£103.20

 

*Average costs based on MoneySuperMarket customers searching for level-term single life insurance, with and without critical illness cover as an additional policy, and a sum insured of £150,000 to £200,000, between October 2019 and September 2020

Factors that affect the price of your premiums

Type of policy

Type of policy

Whether you choose to take out a single or joint policy – buying a joint policy could be cheaper

Your occupation

Your age

The earlier you take out critical illness cover, generally the cheaper the premium

Your occupation

Your occupation

Insurers ask about your job to help calculate how likely you are to make a claim – as some occupations carry a higher risk of health problems 

Your health and medical history

Your health and medical history

Insurers will assess your medical history to determine the risk of you becoming ill

Your lifestyle

Your lifestyle

Some lifestyle habits, such as smoking, will also affect what you pay for critical illness cover

Your level of cover

Your level of cover

The more cover you add to your policy the higher the premiums will be

Which life insurance brands do we work with?

We compare 12 of the leading life insurance brands in the country, including:

company logo for Scottish widowscompany logo for lvcompany logo for virgin moneycompany logo for Royal Londoncompany logo for Beagle streetcompany logo for Budget insurancecompany logo for post office
Neal Cross

Our expert says

"Critical illness cover protects you when you are diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer, or suffer a heart attack or stroke. The lump sum payout can provide valuable financial support and could be used to pay household bills, cover loss of earnings or pay for private medical treatment. The value of the cover can be tailored to suit your personal needs."

- Neal Cross, senior commercial performance manager of life insurance

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You and your partner can take out a joint critical illness cover policy. Think carefully about how you want the policy to work. With most joint policies you will only be allowed a single claim. So, for example, if you were to be diagnosed with a critical illness and then claimed on the plan the policy would end and your partner would no longer have the cover. In some cases however, you can buy joint policies that continue to cover the second person – even after a partner has claimed.

Some insurers offer automatic cover for your children under their critical illness policy, while others may add family cover at a lower cost – either way you should check beforehand if you think it’s something you might need.

What you should keep an eye out for is the amount of cover your child will get – it could be a range, a set amount or even a specific percentage of the amount of cover you have for yourself.

When you consider the level of cover you take out on your critical illness policy, you should factor in the level of financial support your dependants would need if you weren’t able to provide an income as a result of your illness. For example, you should think about:

  • How much your household would need without your income
  • How much remains on your mortgage or any other debts
  • How much you can afford to pay every month for cover

Most insurers will let you adjust the level of cover you have with your policy, as well as the duration of the policy term and any extras you might want to add or remove. However you shouldn’t automatically assume this is the case – check with your insurer to be certain.

Your critical illness policy is unlikely to have a cash-in clause, either during or at the end of the term.

If you have combined critical illness cover as part of your life insurance policy you’ll only get one pay-out – which means if you claim for a critical illness your life insurance policy will end.

However, if you have additional critical illness cover with your life insurance policy, you’ll get a pay-out both when you’re diagnosed with the illness and when you pass away.

The purpose of the lump sum is generally to pay for medical costs or treatment to improve your quality of life, but you’re free to spend it however you would like.

Your chosen insurer will have a list of all the critical conditions covered on your policy on their website. The conditions covered can vary significantly between insurers and policies, so read the small print.

 

No. Once you have claimed and a lump sum is paid out your coverage under the policy automatically ends.

 

Not all insurers will offer critical illness cover if you have a pre-existing condition, and you may have to pay more in premiums for the policy. If you do have a pre-existing condition you should always declare it, or your insurer might refuse any future claims you make.

 

Terminal illness cover is different to critical illness cover, and is usually included as standard in life insurance policies. It means your insurer pays out if your doctor has confirmed you have a terminal condition and you’re likely to pass away within 12 months.

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But you might have other questions. Do we provide access to all the companies operating in a given market? Do we have commercial relationships or ownership ties that might make us feature one company above another?

We commit to providing you with clear and informative answers on all points such as this, so we have gathered the relevant information on this page.

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