Critical illness cover is a type of insurance that’s specifically designed to bolster your finances in the event you’re diagnosed with a condition covered by the policy. It provides a one-off tax-free payment that can help pay for your mortgage or rent if you’re unable to work, pay off lingering debts, or perhaps make necessary alterations to your home.
You’re only covered should you get one of the conditions listed in the policy – not all are included – and there may be severity clauses too, though some insurers will pay a smaller amount for less severe cases. The same can often apply if your child is diagnosed with one of the illnesses listed.
When you take out a policy you can choose how long it will last for and how much cover you want. It’s worth working out how much you and your family would need to live on if you were unable to work, such as how much it would cost to pay off the mortgage, clear debts and provide an income for a set amount of time. This can then provide the base amount for your policy.
You can also choose between various types of cover – you may want cover that will increase over the term to keep in line with inflation, or decreasing cover may be more suitable if your main concern is paying off a repayment mortgage. Then you’ll need to decide if you want a single or joint policy; the latter may prove cheaper for couples, but it’ll only pay out once.
Critical illness cover is typically sold alongside a life insurance policy (see below), though it can also be bought on a standalone basis. No matter what kind of policy you opt for, provided you keep paying your premiums, you’ll be covered throughout the term. At the end of it – or if you make a claim – protection stops, and you’re no longer covered.
Every year, the Moneyfacts product specialists take an in-depth look over the complete critical illness cover marketplace to determine which are worthy of our coveted four- and five-star Annual Star Ratings. Many different elements are carefully considered and compared with the other products currently available to determine which critical illness products provide a truly exceptional level of benefits to consumers.
Moneyfacts Star Ratings are both impartial and respected in the world of financial products, being highly valued by professionals, providers and consumers alike.
The features and benefits of each critical illness policy are closely examined. More about this can be found in the ‘What elements of critical illness cover do we look at?’ section below.
Consumers can have total confidence that the Moneyfacts Annual Star Ratings, carried out by our team of experienced product experts, are both independent and impartial. We provide consumers with an expert analysis of the whole market, so they can feel assured that the critical illness policies that we score highly really are the best on offer.
Numerous areas are considered when assessing the ratings for critical illness cover. Some of these include:
• Range and number of illnesses covered
• Age of entry
• Minimum and maximum terms
• Ceasing ages
• Policy terms
• Minimum and maximum ages
• Rate types
• Total and permanent disability
• (TPD) options
• Conditions including:
o Heart attacks
o Kidney failure
o Major organ transplant
o Terminal illness
Moneyfacts Star Rating: 5 Stars
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The list of critical illness providers on this page is a selection of services available and gives you an idea of the kind of options available. You can find out more about the individual products by visiting any of the providers listed. All information is subject to change without notice. Please check all terms before making any decisions. This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts.co.uk will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts.co.uk recommends you obtain independent financial advice.
There are some conditions that tend to be included as standard in a critical illness policy, examples of which include:
Things like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s are often included too, as well as permanent disabilities because of illness or injury. The exact conditions covered will vary between providers – the most comprehensive of which can cover around 50 conditions – though it may be possible to add specific illnesses to your policy for an additional charge.
Things that are not covered include hereditary illnesses, pre-existing conditions and temporary illnesses. Bear in mind too that some policies will require you to be exhibiting permanent symptoms before you’ll be able to claim. It’s vital to compare critical illness cover before you make your decision so you can be confident you’re getting the cover that’s right for you.
Critical illness and life insurance cover are often bought as a package, with critical illness either being an add-on feature or a standard part of the policy. Having both forms of cover means you’ll be protected in the event you’re diagnosed with a covered medical condition, and/or when you pass away, depending on your policy’s specific terms.
For example, you might have what’s known as additional cover, in which case you (or your loved ones) will receive a payout on your death as well as if you’re diagnosed with a critical illness beforehand. Combined cover will only pay out in one instance, so if you’re diagnosed with a critical illness, you’ll receive the pre-agreed payout but the policy ends, with no life insurance payout on your death. Similarly, you may be able to choose between joint and single life cover, with the former usually only paying out once, to whoever falls ill or dies first.
There’s no legal requirement to have mortgage critical illness cover, though for many, it’s worth considering, for the simple reason that if you fell ill and were unable to work it could be difficult to meet the mortgage repayments. This is why people often like to arrange enough cover to pay off the mortgage balance.
Bear in mind that life insurance is often taken out alongside a mortgage, in which case critical illness cover may already be included.
This depends on a whole range of different factors, including:
Your policy will always be tailored to your individual needs and will be priced accordingly. The best critical illness cover isn’t necessarily the cheapest, so it’s worth comparing the options thoroughly to make sure you’re getting the protection you need.
The main downside to taking out critical illness insurance is that not all conditions are covered, and if you happen to be diagnosed with an illness not included in your policy, you could find yourself in financial difficulty yet unable to fall back on your insurance plan. Premiums can be expensive, too, and some policies can be particularly complex, while in some cases you may not even need it – if you’ve got an employee benefits package that pays out compensation should you fall ill during your service, you may already have a financial fallback.
That said, for many people, critical illness cover can provide valuable peace of mind – but it’s vital to choose wisely. Finding the best critical illness policy requires careful comparison and often input from the experts, and we can help on both counts; read on to find out how we rate the best policies and uncover our top picks, helping you compare the different critical illness cover available. .
Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.