Is critical illness cover right for you?

Are you worried about becoming critically ill? We explain the cover available, to help give you peace of mind.

Critical illness cover could be right for you

We don’t want to think about getting ill, or even seriously ill. But we’re all human and it can and does happen. It’s fair to say that when moments like this happen in life, the last thing we need to add to it is financial difficulty. Fortunately, there’s a way to make life just that little easier during difficult times.

It’s important that we think about having the right insurance cover in place to help us through financial hardship if this happens. If we become critically ill, life could change for a long period of time and it’s important for us to consider how we would cope financially.

Critical illness cover is a way that you can look to protect yourself and loved ones financially, but it can be misunderstood. To help, we’ve put together some common questions and answers about critical illness cover to help you if you think a policy might be right for you.

What is a critical illness policy?

Critical illness cover protects you financially with an amount if you are diagnosed with a critical illness before the end date of your policy.  A claim is normally paid providing you survive past a specified number of days after the diagnosis or following an operation.

Your insurer will pay out a tax-free lump sum, but the illness must be listed in the policy conditions and meet the definition specified. It’s important to know that a critical illness policy won’t cover you for every type of medical condition. The kinds of illnesses covered are usually long-term and serious.

For example, for some illnesses you would need to have permanent and ongoing symptoms. Every insurance provider has a different list of illnesses they define as critical, so make sure you check what you’d be covered for before you sign up.

What could be covered by critical illness insurance?

This is where advice and reading your policy detail is so important as it does vary across insurers. However, these core conditions are always covered by critical illness:

  • Heart attacks: according to the British Heart Foundation there are 7.6 million people with heart and circulatory diseases in the UK.
  • Cancer:  it’s a well-known statistic that one in three people will get cancer in their lifetime. Some types of cancer are not always covered, so keep reading to get the full breakdown.
  • Strokes: It’s documented that 100,000 people have strokes each year in the UK.

Many critical illness policies will cover around 30 conditions – so do be sure to dive into the detail. Other conditions covered could include:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease – resulting in permanent symptoms
  • Deafness – permanent and irreversible
  • Blindness – permanent and irreversible
  • Paralysis or paraplegia, including the complete and permanent loss of one of or all limbs
  • Kidney failure – requiring permanent dialysis
  • Liver failure

The insurer’s claims team will work with you to go through individual circumstances and claims, to help you understand your policy and any technicalities.

How do you get critical illness cover?

To get critical illness cover, an insurer will require you to go through a detailed medical questionnaire, looking at your previous and current health, plus your family medical history. They will then make a decision regarding cover and level options depending on the answers you give.

A critical illness policy will never cover pre-existing conditions, hereditary illnesses, temporary illnesses, high blood pressure and any broken bones. It will also exclude any activity that has impacted a person’s health, for example alcohol and drug abuse and hazardous sports.

A policy for critical illness cover is often purchased at the same time as a life insurance policy, as you will then be covered should the very worst-case scenario happen.

FAQ: What cancers are covered by critical illness insurance?

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) – non-malignant tumours found in the breast
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia
  • Prostate cancer – if the Gleason score is lower than 6, or the cancer hasn’t progressed to at least clinical TNM classification T2N0M0
  • Other types of cancers that have not yet attacked and infected surrounding tissue

Is critical illness cover worth it?

Thinking about critical illness can be intimidating or overwhelming, so it’s important to work with someone you trust. Getting advice from a broker, such as A-Plan, can help you understand the right policy for you, based on age, affordability, and your medical background. They will also assist you in understanding the specifics of what you’re covered for.

When exploring your options, it might be that the product that best suits your needs is an income protection policy, or perhaps life insurance to protect loved ones if you die. Talking this through with an expert will really help when making sure you are financially protected.

We’re here to help you navigate the process of getting the right life insurance and/or critical illness cover, to leave you with complete peace of mind. Find out more about A-Plan’s life insurance, and ask us any questions you may have.

Sources:, Cancer Research, Critical, British Heart Foundation

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