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What is critical illness cover?

Critical illness cover is a type of life insurance policy that offers protection in the event of a serious illness or injury.
Designed to leave you with peace of mind, if you’re diagnosed with an illness that your policy covers, you’ll usually receive a tax-free, one-off payment, that will support the change to your life and alleviate the financial concerns that may come from it. It may be as simple as paying off your mortgage, covering any loss of earnings, or perhaps making necessary adjustments to your home. If you have dependants at home, the money from your policy will lighten the financial burden placed on your family. 
There are two types of critical illness cover:  

  • Additional cover policies can pay out more than once. It will pay out if you are diagnosed with a critical illness and in the event of death. 

  • Combined cover policies pay out 100% of your chosen cover amount upon diagnosis of a critical illness or at death (not both).

What isn’t covered by critical illness insurance?

It’s important to know that critical illness and terminal illness are classed differently by insurance providers. Terminal illnesses (defined as a life expectancy of less than 12 months) are excluded from critical illness cover, so you should consider taking out life insurance instead, if that’s important to you.

On the other hand, some illnesses are excluded for not being severe enough. Even conditions mentioned above, including heart attacks, strokes and non-terminal cancers, may not be included in your policy, unless they are deemed a significant threat. Please be careful, when agreeing your policy, to check exactly what you’ll be covered for.

Do you need critical illness cover?

While the Government does offer benefits for sick pay, these are only normally up to £100 a week, and may therefore be too low to replace your income, or help you adapt to your new circumstances. That’s where critical illness cover comes in. If you don’t have enough in your savings to cover an extended period of illness or disability, a critical illness policy could be right for you.

Ultimately, getting cover is your choice. If you do choose to insure yourself, it’s important that you find the policy that’s right for you, and that you are fully aware of what you’ll be covered for. There’s also income protection insurance available, so it’s worth considering all of your options, but general income protection insurance is likely to be more expensive than critical illness insurance.

How much does critical illness cover cost? 

The amount that your critical illness insurance will cost depends on: 

  • The amount of cover you’re looking for 

  • Your age 

  • Your health and lifestyle (including smoking and alcohol consumption) 

  • Any pre-existing medical conditions you have 

  • Your current personal circumstances 

  • The term of your policy   

It can be quick to add critical illness insurance on to a  life insurance  policy quote.

Age is one of the most significant factors in the cost of your critical illness cover. We’ve put together this useful table, to show you how it can make your cover more expensive: 

Average costs of life insurance based on age^^

Age           With critical illness cover         Without critical illness cover                   Difference 

20-24                          £42.13                                          £13.76                                             £28.37 

30-34                          £70.77                                          £23.58                                             £47.19 

40-44                          £110.01                                        £34.99                                             £75.02 

50-54                          £140.95                                        £46.27                                             £94.68 

60-64                          £178.39                                        £67.50                                             £110.89 

70-74                          £595.34                                        £142.17                                           £453.17 

^^^Based on the average top five prices, by critical illness cover selection, between December 2019 and May 2020. 

Where can I buy critical illness insurance? 

There are providers who offer standalone critical illness policies, but this cover type is typically bought as an add-on to a term life insurance policy. You can’t buy this type of cover as a standalone policy on our site, but you can select critical illness insurance as an add-on during the quote and on the results page.   
If you have any further questions you can call our partner LifeSearch, a specialist adviser for life insurance, oN (Mon – Thurs: 8.00am – 8pm Fri: 8.00am – 7pm Sat: 9.00am – 2.30pm Sun: 10 am - 3.30pm).  

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