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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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  • Enjoy peace of mind once you're covered
  • Personalised quotes, suited to your needs

*Customers who have received a voucher/gift card before aren't eligible. Eligible customers and online purchases only. Minimum 6 payments required see full T&Cs. Restrictions apply, see

What is critical illness insurance?

Critical illness cover 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.

Do I take out critical illness cover separately 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.

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Do I need critical illness insurance?

Critical illness cover can offer valuable financial support if you fall ill and are forced to stop working. 

For example, a critical illness insurance policy pay out can be helpful for:

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Mortgage payments

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Lost earnings

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Household bills

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Private medical treatment

Get a £100 Gift Card*

*Customers who have received a voucher/gift card before aren't eligible. Eligible customers and online purchases only. Minimum. 6 payments required see full T&Cs. Restrictions apply, see


What type of critical illness cover do I need?

If you take out critical illness cover on top of a life insurance policy, you’ll be able to choose between:

Additional cover

Life insurance with additional critical illness cover means you’re insured for a payout both when you pass away and if you’re diagnosed with a critical illness

Combined cover

A combined life insurance and critical illness policy will only pay out once, either when you pass away or if you’re diagnosed with a critical illness. MoneySuperMarket don’t offer a comparison service for combined life insurance and critical illness, however we do compare a range of other life insurance products 

You should also consider whether you’ll be buying the policy just for yourself or for your partner too – you’ll be able to take out joint life insurance with critical illness cover. However, you should keep in mind that these policies will usually still only pay out once – for whoever on the policy is the first to be diagnosed with a critical illness.

what type of critical illness cover do i need

What does a critical illness policy cover?

The specific conditions covered by a critical illness policy will depend on your insurer and the type of cover you take out, but you can generally expect the same core conditions to be included – such as:

  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Some types of cancer

Some critical illness policies might cover certain types of conditions, or conditions at a certain level of seriousness – for example, different types or stages of cancer. You should check for sure if other conditions are covered, some critical illness policies do not cover the following:

  • Organ failures
  • Organ transplants
  • Permanent disabilities resulting from an illness or injury
  • Traumatic head injuries
  • Parkinson’s

The more comprehensive critical illness policies available often cover around 40 to 50 conditions listed on their policy documents – it’s always important to read these before taking cover out.

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

How much does life insurance cost with critical illness cover?

Around a quarter of all people who take out life insurance with MoneySuperMarket opt to add critical illness cover to their policy – at an average extra cost of just over £12 a month.

And if you are part of a couple, it’s worth knowing that the average cost of a joint life insurance policy with critical illness is £47 a month, compared to the £26 average cost of an equivalent single policy. While other pricing factors are at play, a joint life and critical illness policy can be more cost-effective than buying two separate ones.

Comparing quotes online is the easiest way to find the cheapest life and critical illness insurance which offers the cover you need. 

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

You’ll also be able to take critical illness cover out for yourself and your partner with a joint policy. Some joint policies pay out for both of you, but some allow just a single claim. It might be the case that your policy will only pay out the first time either of you make a claim.

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.

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.

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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