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Critical illness cover

Help protect what's most important to you.

Help protect what's most important to you.

Help protect what's most important to you.

Help protect what's most important to you.

Help protect what's most important to you.

Not sure where to start?
Give our friendly team at LifeSearch a call.

Opening times:
Mon – Thurs: 8.00am – 8pm
Fri: 8.00am – 7pm
Sat: 9.00am – 2.30pm
Sun: 10 am - 3.30pm

0800 072 1147

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 does critical illness insurance cover?

Critical illness insurance can also cover you if you’ve suffered a physical disability following an injury, such as after a serious accident at work. Exactly what’s covered by critical illness insurance will depend on the specific details of the life insurance that you take out.

Critical illness varies slightly between providers, and the severity of the condition can affect whether you’re covered, but conditions may include:

  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Non-terminal cancer
  • Organ transplants
  • Severe head injuries

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 0800 072 1147 (Mon – Thurs: 8.00am – 8pm Fri: 8.00am – 7pm Sat: 9.00am – 2.30pm Sun: 10 am - 3.30pm).  

Frequently asked questions

How is critical illness different to terminal illness cover?

Critical illness tends to pay out if a person suffers a serious ailment that’s not life threatening.

Terminal illness is an incurable disease where a person is expected not to live longer than within 12 months of their diagnosis. A policyholder is typically paid out a lump sum once their life-threatening condition, such as cancer, has been confirmed by a medical professional.  

It's worth being aware that most insurance providers will include terminal illness – which also could include illness or injury resulting in total and permanent disability (TPD) – as part of their life cover.

Are all critical illness policies the same?

No. What defines a critical illness varies from provider to provider. This is why it’s really important to know what is and isn’t covered by your policy. It’s likely that your policy will pay out different amounts depending on the type of condition you’re diagnosed with.  

The policy you’re offered will depend on lifestyle factors and other considerations, such as any pre-existing medical conditions you might have. 

Am I eligible for critical illness cover?

As long as you’re a UK resident and over 18, then you should be eligible for critical illness cover. As with all life insurance policies, this is subject to other factors, including your lifestyle and medical history.

You’ll also need to have a UK bank account so you can pay the monthly premiums via direct debit. It’s important to make sure that you can afford the monthly premiums when you take out cover.

How long does a critical illness cover policy last?

The length of a critical illness policy runs as long as the term life policy you decide to take out.

You may decide to get a term life policy that will run for the same length of time as the term of your mortgage. 

Alternatively, you could calculate the length of cover based on how long your dependants will need financial support from you should you become ill.

Are there policies that last for the whole of my life?

Yes. These are known as life assurance policies, or whole of life policies. Unlike term policies, these don’t expire. They tend to be more expensive than term insurance products. Learn more about how whole of life insurance could meet your needs.

Can I adjust the level of cover I have?

Most critical illness insurance providers will allow you to make changes to the level of cover in your policy. This could be as simple as extending the term, or adding a greater level of cover. You should always check if you can adjust your policy, before taking out cover. 

Can I get joint cover for my partner?

You can take out a joint life insurance policy, which includes critical illness cover as an add-on. However, it’s important to note that you will usually only be able to claim for critical illness once between you. If one of you makes a claim, you will no longer have critical illness cover for the other. 

Can I get critical illness cover for my children?

You can get critical illness cover for children, but this is not usually a standalone product, and so must be bought as an add-on to the policy of a parent or guardian. If your child’s condition requires you to claim on the policy, you must do this as the main policyholder. 

Can I claim on my critical illness policy more than once?

You can only claim on your critical illness policy once. This will provide a lump sum payment that will help you with medical costs or improving your quality of life. Any other payout will come from your life insurance policy upon your death. 

When should you get critical illness insurance?

When you decide to get cover is up to you, but here are some examples of times you may consider getting a policy for that extra security:

  • Buying a home – taking out critical illness insurance alongside your mortgage will protect your home should you fall critically ill during the duration of your mortgage. Upon your claim being approved, you’ll receive a tax-free, one-off payment that could potentially pay off your mortgage entirely.
  • You have dependants – if you get married, or have children, you may be responsible for the financial security of others. If you were to fall seriously ill or become disabled, critical illness cover can help support your family when they need it most.
  • A new job – while getting a new job is often good news, if your employer doesn’t have a benefits package that offers suitable sickness pay, you may want to take out your own insurance policy to keep your future secure.

How can I find the right term cover for me?

Our cheapest quotes may not necessarily be best for you - it’s important to remember that each policy will have different conditions and exclusions. Therefore, you should always choose life insurance with a great deal of care. Get peace of mind today and start a quote.

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